Podcast #189 – Rich Sheridan (@MenloPrez) on his book, “Joy, Inc.”


Joining me as my guest for episode #189 is Rich Sheridan, CEO and Chief Storyteller at Menlo Innovations, a software development company in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Rich is the author of the new book that I'm really enjoying: Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love. Learn more about the author and the book at www.menloinnovations.com/joyinc. You can also download a free chapter here.

There's so much to love about his book and what they are doing at Menlo. I think it's great to start a new year, 2014, with a look at a book that gives us hope about creating workplaces where employees are fully engaged and everybody wins – customers, company, and employees. I'll have a chance to visit Menlo in about two weeks when I'll be in Michigan for my public Kaizen workshop, so I'll report back on what I see during that visit.

For a link to this episode, refer people to  www.leanblog.org/189.

Some of the topics I was taking notes on as I read the book (through chapter six):

  • “You can be joyful without being happy all the time”
  • Menlo has built upon “extreme programming” and Kent Beck‘s work there
  • Their “Menlo Way” is worth looking at
  • As Toyota has done, Menlo doesn't mind teaching competitors about their methods (because this serves their mission to reduce suffering in the world, including the suffering in bad workplaces)
  • They work really hard to break down “towers of knowledge” in the organization
  • Menlo emphasizes direct customer contact and understanding their problems and what they need (often better than the customers could articulate on their own in a traditional software approach)
  • Their “high tech anthropology” approach (HTA) starts with understanding customers better and then iterating and testing designs (often starting with crude prototypes and mockups)
  • Their QA process focuses on reducing delays and shortening lead time (along with other approaches that are different than traditional QA)
  • A reader will recognize ideas that are similar to Deming, Lean, Lean Startup, Agile, and more… combined into a powerful and cohesive articulation of culture and strategy

For earlier episodes, visit the main Podcast page, which includes information on how to subscribe via RSS or via Apple Podcasts.

You can also listen via Stitcher.

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If you have feedback on the podcast, or any questions for me or my guests, you can email me at leanpodcast@gmail.com or you can call and leave a voicemail by calling the “Lean Line” at (817) 993-0630 or contact me via Skype id “mgraban”. Please give your location and your first name. Any comments (email or voicemail) might be used in follow ups to the podcast.

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  1. Paul Martel says

    I realize there is much more to the overall vision for Menlo described in “Joy” than just the open office environment. Nevertheless, it was interesting to see this recently-posted article that cites research showing the potential downsides of the open office environment: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/currency/2014/01/the-open-office-trap.html

  2. […] has been on a couple of podcasts (here and here). Something he says that really strikes me, and he says this in the book, is that many […]

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