Stinky fish

Stinky fish

29 November 2022
Veerle Seymus
Veerle Seymus
  • "My stress level is sky high," I admitted.

  • Hearing my colleagues acknowledge this first made it much easier for me. We were in for some hard conversations and came out relieved, untethered, energized, and optimistic.

    🐘 Like many organizations, Ambits keeps elephants in the room. We needed them out of the building. Hence, an afternoon of tough love.

    🧫 This was the first time we tried something like this. Here's how we did it.

    🕐 Preparation: 
    - Think about what would make this a success for you and how you'll contribute to that success
    - Don't write a script because you don't know what the others have to say, and you can't predict how they'll react

    🕑 State the ground rules out loud:
    - We treat each other respectfully
    - We speak honestly
    - We listen to understand
    - We regulate our emotions

    🕒 Frame the discussion:
    - What is the exact goal of this exercise?
    - Decide what is in and out of scope
    - We discuss roles, responsibilities, competencies, behavior, and expectations. We do not vomit gossip about our colleagues

    🕓 Set your mind in Kaizen-modus: 
    - We seek to improve continuously
    - Without feedback from others (no matter how tough it is to hear), it's impossible to grow as a person and as an organization

    🕔 Check-in: ask your colleagues how they feel and tell them truthfully how you feel

    🕕 Uncover the smelly fish: 
    - Address the silent issues, fears, anxiety, and uncertainties with the stinky fish exercise. Now is the time to be brave and bold.
    - Consolidate and choose which fish to fry collectively
    - Put the rest of the fish on ice for 1-2-1 discussions

    🕖 Fry the stinky fish together: 
    - Discuss and draft a plan with the what, who, how, and when
    - Set up an accountability structure

    🕗 Check-out: how does everyone feel now

    🕘 Celebrate: express appreciation and gratitude, congratulate each other, and let the cork fly

    Elephants or smelly fish … Not addressing them doesn't make them go away.

  • Fearless culture

  • We based this exercise on Gustavo Razetti's blog post.

    The team's psychological safety is essential in determining the outcome. Without psychological safety, no honesty and willingness to engage in productive conflict. You can consider bringing in a facilitator.

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