I enjoyed this book written by CEO Richard Sheridan: Joy Inc.: How we built a workplace people love. The book is about the workplace practices, culture and vision that Rich introduced into his software development company, Menlo Innovations.

Although I do not work in software development, I enjoyed the book’s lessons on what motivates Menlo’s software developers to find meaning and joy in the workplace. And I will introduce some of these practices (pairing, continuous learning, leadership development, growth mindset) myself when I am in a position to do so. Here are some highlights:

  • Deep down you know that there is a better way to run a business, a team, a company, a department. You’ve always known it. These thoughts come to you just before falling asleep or just after waking. Then your day begins, and the idea of transformational change evaporates like a maddening dream you can’t seem to reassemble after waking from it.
  • Joy is designing and building something that actually sees the light of day and is enjoyably used and widely adopted by the people for whom it was intended.
    • For Menlo, building a culture of joy was simple: we wanted to create a place where we were excited to come to work every day.
  • In the long run, the only sustainable source of competitive advantage is your organization’s ability to learn faster than your competition. —PETER SENGE, The Fifth Discipline
  • Pairing fosters a learning system, builds relationships, eliminates towers of knowledge, simplifies onboarding of new people, and flushes out performance issues. In the paired environment of Menlo, we are continuously building our skills.
    • Each pair partner brings his or her own unique experience and knowledge to the conversation. When pairs work together, they often learn something new about their pair partner’s unique breadth of experience.
    • Learning happens every minute of every day while actual work is being done. One person in the pair teaches her new partner what she learned the previous week.
    • One of the key elements of a joyful culture is having team members who trust one another enough to argue.
    • …we are not looking for the perfect someone with the exact skills. At Menlo, we are looking for able learners with curiosity. We can teach skills all day long. If they have a decent foundation, teaching is trivial.
  • For a make mistakes faster culture to thrive, you must remove manufactured fear as a management tool.
    • When we pump fear out of the room and give the team permission to make mistakes, the team starts to feel safe. If team members feel safe, they will begin to trust one another. If they trust one another, they will begin to collaborate and we see teamwork. When mistakes are made, the team owns up to the mistake because there is no fear of reprisal or penalty. No time or human energy is wasted by organizing a posse to nab the culprit.
  • By sharing your ideas while still at the conceptual phase, you are letting go of the feeling “This is my idea—isn’t it great? Aren’t I smart?” This is particularly difficult for engineers like me, whose self-worth is often derived from being seen as the smartest one in the room.
    • The power in this, though, is that most ideas can be made so much better with more minds involved.
    • During this period, the personal vision of an individual evolves into the shared vision of a team.
  • If members of your team show a spark of inspiration or passion, support them. Feed their dream and encourage them as they pursue it. It’s the best way to support someone’s leadership development.
    • We seek to grow leaders who act like gentle teachers rather than schoolyard bullies.

Sunset at Barangaroo Reserve

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Food: muesli, banana, papaya, cake, chocolate, cheezels, bread, hummus, untuna, salad, noodles, mandarin.

Workout: none.

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