I met a guy named Rich Sheridan two years ago, and have had the pleasure of touring his company (Menlo Innovations) several times.  Menlo is a software company that has developed a very unique culture and Rich has just published a book about it called Joy, Inc.  How We Built a Workplace People Love.  I read a lot of business books, and rarely do I finish any of them.  I am good for 150-175 pages, but at some point I run out of gas.  I read Joy cover to cover.  It was part because I have experienced the culture and personal tours from Rich, and part because it gave me a chance to hear all of Rich’s journey with the culture at Menlo.  He is coming to speak at our local chamber on June 6, so I look forward to sharing him with some of my high growth second stage companies.

At the very end of the book, he gives three next steps to any leaders who want to open up the conversations in their workplace and make JOY a greater part of their business, and I loved them. Here is the excerpt.

WHERE DO YOU SIT? Most visitors are simultaneously intrigued by and uncomfortable with the thought of a space without walls, offices, cubes, or doors. As I mentioned earlier, our guests are intrigued by the fact that I sit out in the room with everyone else. This kind of managerial experiment builds trust, the kind that comes from treating your team members like the adults they are.

Changing your seating is a simple experiment to run. If you are a leader trapped in an office or caught by the trappings of an office, turn the office into a conference room, grab a small table, and move out among the rest of your team. Ask them to select the table’s location. Tell them it’s okay to move it whenever they like without asking permission. Post a sign-up sheet outside the new conference room that was your old office and let the team know it’s available to anyone, first come, first served. Have them name the room.

You can always book the conference room yourself for those truly private conversations. I’m guessing you will be amazed at how few there are. If you are having a lot of private conversations, there is likely something else amiss with your team that requires deeper attention.

Remember my earlier admonition: everyone has to change in order for you to achieve the dramatic change you seek. This includes you. What’s the worst that can happen?

TRY A STANDUP MEETING FOR A WEEK: Go back to chapter four and read about how we do our daily standup meeting. Try it for a week. Set a timer, pick a goofy token, and experiment with some silly traditions. Find something fun in your current culture and blend it in.

COME VISIT: There’s one thing you have that I didn’t: Menlo. Come visit, explore[…]”


Excerpt From: Sheridan, Richard. “Joy, Inc.” Penguin Group, USA, 2013-12-26. iBooks.

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