Stinky Fish Exercise

Stinky Fish Exercise


After you have implemented the Fish Philosophy issues, become known as “Stinky Fish,” and teams get excited about identifying new “Stinky Fish Exercise” because they can PLAYSTORM ways to make that Stinky Fish FRESH again.

Introduce a new way to solve problems and encourage your team to share tasks, behaviours, procedures, policies, or other roadblocks that are making work difficult. When we bring these issues to the surface we are showing our team that we value and appreciate their opinions


Often it is the people that are doing the job that can identify where the business is going wrong.

Let’s face it they are doing the workday in and out and will most likely already have several ideas that they think will improve efficiency and increase outcomes.  

We all want to go to work to do a good job and achieve. 63%* of employees who are recognised are very unlikely to look for a new job.

Also, 40%** of employees surveyed would put energy into their work if they were recognised more often.

You have already hired these people because you thought they were a good fit and could do a great job, right? So let’s give them the opportunity to shine. Now, this activity is not one we would recommend right from the beginning because some people are not going to be open enough to PLAYSTORM right away. There may not be enough trust build up in your organisation therefore they don’t think anything will actually change as a result. 

Learn » How the Fish Philosophy is used in Education.

It only takes one enthusiastic idea to be shot down for a passionate employee to give up and stop offering suggestions.  

You will have to first create an environment of trust and respect by making sure everyone is Practising Being There for each other and the customers, Choosing Attitudes that are helpful and uplifting, and making sure that their actions are still Making People’s Days.  

Once you have this foundation then you have a greater chance of success with your Playstorm. 

So what is Playstorm? It is like Brainstorming but on steroids. Our guidelines to Playstorming are as follows: 

  • Come up with as many crazy ideas as possible (as long as they follow the other 3 practices of Be There, Make their day, and Choose your attitude)
  • Let everyone in the group have a say and appreciate and value their input
  • Stay on track for the topic of the ‘Stinky Fish’ you are trying to solve
  • Write everything down
  • Review and determine what you could actually implement
  • Follow up on your idea
  • Have FUN, Add Music, Be Creative!

Source of Stats used above:

* SurveyMonkey partnered with Bonusly to find out how recognition and retention are related. Out of 1,500 respondents, 63% who were ‘always’ or ‘usually’ recognised said they are ‘very unlikely’ to job hunt in the next 3-6 months. In contrast, only 11% of those who are ‘never’ or ‘rarely’ recognised would agree.

** A survey by OGO found that the lack of recognition has a massively negative impact on how employees feel about the workplace. According to the survey, 82% of American professionals feel that they aren’t adequately recognised for their contribution. This could easily lead to turnover of staff.

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