When Fish Fly
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Innsbrook Today Magazine

November 2004 Vol. 14 No. 4

Off the Shelf

by Hilary Burns
Business Resource Center
Country of Henrico Public Library

Making Work Work

High job satisfaction is a frequent concern for workers and for organizations, as employee happiness is directly related to performance. The following recent titles offer suggestions on creating an enthusiastic workplace, how confidence and dedication to customer service are essential to success, and how to achieve a more satisfying work life.

John Yokoyama, owner of Seattle's Pike Place Fish Market, has joined author and consultant Joseph Michelli to write When Fish Fly, his story of how changing the culture of his workplace helped him to save his business and achieve amazing success. In the past few years, Yokoyama's fish market has been featured in corporate training videos and the best-selling book Fish! for its energized workplace and legendary employee morale.

After suffering a major financial crisis, Yokoyama hired consultant Jim Bergquist to find ways to improve his company's performance. During a brainstorming meeting, one of his employees declared that they should become “world famous.” After considering the idea, they decided that they could become famous for being great with people, from their suppliers to their customers. Guided by this purposeful vision, the Pike Place Fish Market evolved from a business dedicated to selling fish to an organization dedicated to extraordinary customer service.

Yokoyama admits that before this transformation he behaved like an angry dictator who yelled at his employees and created a hostile work environment that caused high turnover. Once he understood the creative power of his people and the importance of offering a place where they could make a difference, the fish market's mediocre profits began to soar. People were attracted to the fun, energetic atmosphere and soon the small fish market was getting free television publicity and was actually becoming world famous.

With the release of the corporate training videos featuring the Pike Place Fish Market and it's enthusiastic, empowering culture, Yokoyama received so many speaking requests that he eventually started a training company, Flying Fish/bizFutures.

Yokoyama discusses his own personal journey, his company's transformation and how he had to begin by changing his attitude and management style. This slim volume effectively conveys the exciting atmosphere of the Pike Place Fish Market and the power of a creative, energetic and supportive workplace.