How a Stinky Fish Helped Hattrick Forge a New Way Forward

With Google as our first client, we’ve been moving away from our traditional PR roots from day one. But 2018 was the biggest year of change for the agency. For onlookers, this was in the shape of a swanky new pad in Exchange Quay. But from the inside-out the changes ran much deeper. A new floor plan represented a complete restructure. Gone was the old delivery model (dependent on hierarchy and reliant on generalist knowledge) and in came a much flatter ‘squad-like’ structure. The idea being that by playing to individuals’ strengths we could build on genuine areas of expertise and achieve a more agile way of working. One more fitting for an increasingly digitized world. An approach famously championed by Spotify.

While this was met with enthusiasm, internally, the reality was we had to completely redefine ‘team working’. And that’s where the stinky fish comes in…

Being a curious, learning organisation that takes pride in our ability to ‘seek beyond the obvious’ we sought external perspective to support us on this next and important step towards digital transformation. Technological know-how wasn’t the issue; it was the very human response to change that we needed to address.

So we ventured to Lever Street, Manchester, to the hidden and inspirational world of Hyper Island. A Swedish export that has developed a unique and enlightening learning experience for digitally minded companies and individuals that want to take it even further.

What we discovered, was what we hoped. A completely different way of looking at things. And at each other.

At one particularly tense point in the proceedings the Surstromming came out to play. This is another Swedish export (you’ll see there’s a theme). A canned, fermented herring that’s reportedly so putrid, it can only be opened in the outdoors and is frequently disposed of down the toilet.  Its smell is likened to rotten eggs in a sewer, yet its taste considered a Nordic delicacy. Further afield, however, many a curious sampler have become international internet sensations by completing the ‘stinky fish challenge’ and eating the fermented fish – purely for YouTube entertainment. Check it out. It’s a thing.

Meanwhile, back at Hyper Island, team Hattrick had a similarly torturous yet invigorating encounter with the Surstromming. A bit like ripping a plaster off – momentarily painful but necessary and wholly satisfying. Using the stinky fish as a metaphor we laid bare our own personal challenges in dealing with the outcome of change. And agreed ways forward that meant we could leverage our new found agility and together reach common #SquadGoals.

We also learnt Amy Winehouse once made one of us a G&T, we have a closet qualified nail technician in our midst and we have enough former brass players to make an ensemble. All we need now is percussion. Interested in joining the band? Take a look at our current vacancies here.

*Disclaimer*: If you’re thinking of taking on the stinky fish challenge Hattrick will not be held responsible for volatile reactions. Please also be advised that several major airlines have banned the product, so getting hold of it might be a challenge in the first place!

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