Stinky Fish

An activity that creates openness within a group by sharing fears, anxieties, and uncertainties.

Stinky Fish Overview

Identifying the stinky fish is an effective exercise for both individuals and groups to face the issues that are getting in their way of success.

The Stinky Fish exercise helps teams identify four types of issues:

  • What everybody is thinking but no one is saying (silent problems)
  • The uncertainties that make people feel that they lost control (unknowns)
  • Things that are making people feel nervous or lose their focus (anxieties)
  • The emotions that get in the way and paralyze us (fear)

How to Facilitate

  1. Introduce the goal of the exercise. Set a safe space for people to be candid and speak up. Clarify that the intention is to uncover silent problems so that the team can solve them.
  2. Start the brainstorming in "Private" mode, so participants only see their posts.
  3. Change the board mode to "Open" and ask participants to speak to their contributions. Discuss commonalities, tensions, and contradictions.
  4. Prioritize the key issues that the team wants to address. Have participants like the cards that they feel need to be addressed the most.
  5. (Optional) Create a new board or column where you can brainstorm solutions for the most significant issues.
Use Cases
Group Coaching
Ideal Participant Count
15 - 45 minutes
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