Episode 20 | Pt. 1: How to Maximize Joy in the Workplace

with Menlo Innovations’ Richard Sheridan

David Hassell interview David Hassell interview

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From kid programmer in 1971 to Forbes cover story in 2003, Joy, Inc. author and Menlo Innovations CEO Richard Sheridan has never shied from challenges, opportunities, nor the limelight. His focus has always been around technology, but his passion is actually process, teamwork and organizational design, with one overarching goal: unlock the business value of Joy.

Strangely enough, it all began in 1967, when a ten year old Richard Sheridan decided to surprise his parents by building a piece of furniture while they were away for the evening.

In today’s Awesome Office interview, Richard tells us how this experience – and the joy he felt after delivering a wow moment to his parents – was the start of a journey that would lead him to his mission of changing the way we work.

The laboratory for his radical ideas about workplace joy has been his own company, Menlo Innovations, a software design and development firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

An avid reader and historian, Sheridan insists that he and his team didn’t invent a new culture, but copied an old one – Edison’s Menlo Park New Jersey lab.

Richard was a pleasure to talk to, and we hope you get as much value out of this conversation as we did.

Key Takeaways

  • Richard takes us back to one of the most formative experiences of his life, and explains why he credits this lesson as the inspiration behind Joy Inc.
  • Richard explains that, while he’s a technologist, his greatest innovation came in the way he thinks about people, organization design, and process.
  • Richard describes why we typically lose our sense of joy as we transition from childhood to adulthood, and why that’s detrimental to our businesses and our lives.
  • Richard opines why most managers fall into the trap of mimicking their predecessors, and how that has perpetuated harmful organizational cultures and management practices.
  • Richard explains how playfulness and productivity aren’t mutually exclusive, and how the TV show M.A.S.H. actually demonstrated that levity can exist in the midst of stressful or important work.
  • Richard tells us the utterly unique way that Menlonians schedule all-staff meetings, and how the company is able to conduct these meetings in under 13 minutes.
  • Richard explains why ear buds are forbidden at Menlo, and why he believes chatter helps fuel creativity.
  • Richard describes the Menlo hiring process, which actually involves no resumes and no interview questions whatsoever.

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