The CIO invited me into his office and closed the door. Before he took me for a tour of his operation, he had a few stories to share. Important stories. Last year’s project was a disaster. Late, lots of quality issues, in short, a failure in every dimension. His boss, the CEO, had just presented him with a very personal ultimatum: deliver the next project by April 4th, “or else”.
“Or else what,” I asked?
His team was burned out and scared. They were a hard-working and dedicated group, but fear and demoralization had set in and he didn’t know what to do next. That’s why he wanted to talk to me, he had heard things about my company, things that seemed too good to be true, but he had to hear them firsthand. He wanted hope, inspiration, and a practical way to get there.
I told him about my own journey from joy to fear to disillusionment back to joy. It was simple, but, of course, simple isn’t easy. I wasn’t sure he and his organization were ready; “manufactured fear” is a powerful drug.
In this talk, I will share with you what I shared with him. I will explore what an intentionally joyful culture must choose as its focus. I will discuss what joy looks like, feels like, how it is organized. Along the way, you will be confronted by paradoxical approaches of how workplace noise increases productivity, how two people at one computer outperforms hero-based organizations 10-to-1, how rigor and discipline emanate from a shared-belief system, how transparency conquers fear, how all of the disciplines you study including agile, lean, and six sigma when done well are really about building human relationships at the intersections of business and technology, between project management and software development, between development and design and how quality can be a natural result of a team built on trust.
This is not a theoretical talk, but rather a talk built from well over a decade of experience of leading a team focused on “the business value of joy”. There will be lots of room for discussion with the audience. The audience will begin to understand why thousands of people make the journey to Ann Arbor, Michigan every year to see The Menlo Software Factory firsthand, and why so many more are reading about it in Joy, Inc. – How We Built A Workplace People Love.
Menlo Innovations CEO Rich Sheridan had an all consuming thought during a difficult mid-career in the chaotic technology industry ...
things can be better. Much better. He had to find a way. His search led him to books, authors and history, including recalling childhood visits to Greenfield Village every summer. The excitement of the Edison Menlo Park New Jersey Lab served as his siren call to create a workplace filled with camaraderie, human energy, creativity and productivity.
Ultimately, Rich and his co-founder James Goebel invented their own company in 2001 to "end human suffering in the world as it relate to technology" by returning joy to one of the most unique endeavors mankind has ever undertaken: the invention of software.
Their unique approach to custom software design, they named it High-tech Anthropology® has produced custom software that delights users rather than frustrating them. The programming team creates the software that works every day without the emergencies that are all too common in the tech industry. The process itself is so interesting that almost 4,000 people a year travel from around the world just to see how they do it. Many spend a week or more studying "The Menlo Way" being taught by the Menlonians who love to share their experience and knowledge.
In 2013, Rich and his publisher Penguin Random House took a chance that a business book with the words joy and love on the cover might have impact. They had no idea how the world yearned for such a message. His best selling book, Joy, Inc. - How We Built a Workplace People Love now has Rich traveling the world speaking about joy, creativity, and human energy in the workplace.