I attended a local Fish! workshop a couple of years ago at my library. I remember being excited about this because I have watched the fish mongers at the Pike Street Market fling fish and funny quips in equal measure. I can’t recall now what I got from the session those years ago, but I remember that the Fish! philosophy was innovative and fun.
Now at Pegasus, Cyndi Laurin—who actually worked with the fish mongers at Pike Market—did a similar presentation titled “Catch! Leadership Lessons from Seattle’s Famous Fishmongers.” Some the things Cyndi talked about:
- You can’t duplicate the successes of another group. Similarly, you cannot sustain innovative thinking or actions when attempting to emulate the outcomes of others.
- What’s the thought behind the action? The answer lies not with what they [fish mongers] are doing, but with who they are being. It’s not the yelling and hollering that get the action going, but the thinking about generating something new.
- The top-down corporate thinking doesn’t work anymore.
So what makes the Pike Place Fish so innovative and (world) famous?
- Individual and collective responsibility.
- Selling fish for 12 hours is exhausting work, but they have trigger words/phrases (“it’s over here!” or “It’s over there”) to keep people on track; everybody has to be 100% there for this to work.
- These are really driven into who they are and what they do; they’re very aware of their team and their energy; if someone is having a bad day, they address it, deal with it. If the people can’t self-manage, then they bring the manager.
- An expansive, intention-driven vision
- They have weekly meetings, talked about what worked and what didn’t; one day someone had the idea to be world famous; conversation ensued as to what being world famous meant to each member—so they became world famous by defining what world famous means to each of them—there was no 100% agreement as to what being “world famous” was to each other, but collectively they agreed on the shared vision.
- They think: what’s our potential, what do we want to achieve; how are you going to do that tomorrow.
From there Cyndi talked about what it takes to instill (the Pike Place Fish employs about 12 individuals) larger constitutional greatness.
- Vitalizing the relationships between the parts has a far greater value than optimizing the parts. We need to know about each other before we “team” ourselves to achieve a goal. “At what cost are we optimizing”…who are we killing in our effort to optimize?
- Goals vs. outcomes.
- Goals can be a place to get to – or goals can be a place to go from…it is your choice
- What is the goal of leadership—of leading from where we are?
Cyndi also touched on the detrimental environment of current leadership practices, which has been great for profit but horrendously poor and dangerous to the individuals that support it. Her thoughts on leadership:
- Leadership = commitment to the success of the people around you.
- You cannot assume people know this—it has to be communicated with actions and words.
- Coaching equals an expression of your commitment.
Again, it comes to how we relate to our responsibilities, our friends/family, and our coworkers. There has to be a conscious effort of being in the moment, of taking responsibility for your actions and your thinking—there’s always something we’re contributing to the mix, either positive or negative, that trigger negative/positive behavior in others. Start with your own thinking, and make it a positive one.