What is the business value of joy?

What is the business value of joy?

I recently had an in-depth conversation with Rich Sheridan, the CEO of Menlo Innovations – a world-renowned software development company in Ann Arbor Michigan. Rich shared some fascinating details about how his company has grown from his basement to their new 17,000 square foot headquarters.

Rich explained that at the center of Menlo’s business model is something rather unusual. It’s a single word: Joy. When he told me this I’m almost certain my eyebrows crinkled into a “whaa?” sort of look.

Whaa?

Rich Sheridan - CEO of Menlo Innovations

Rich Sheridan

As a software development company, Menlo’s focus isn’t merely on cranking out code. They recognize that the tools they build impact people’s lives. Rich said that building software is sort of like building someone’s home – they live in it, they use it, and it’s part of their lives. Success for Menlo is when the people who use their software have joy brought into their lives as a result of what Menlo has produced.

Menlo’s focus on joy has made a huge name for themselves in the software-development and business communities. More than a thousand people from all over the world have come to the Menlo offices in the past year to learn about how they do what they do. Clearly, they’re on to something.

How do you do this?
If you want the by-product of what you produce to create joy, then joy certainly has to saturate the entire creation process.

[quote style=”boxed”]“If half of a team has joy and the other half does not, which half would you want working on your project?” – Rich Sheridan[/quote]

To make sure this happens, Menlo puts a tremendous emphasis on the culture of their team. Every facet of the Menlo process has been carefully and intentionally designed to help their team be fully engaged and satisfied in what they are doing while they work. There is certainly more to it, but their focus includes these elements:

  • The hiring process
  • The daily rituals and habits teams conduct with each other
  • The office layout
  • Practically no bureaucracy

All of these facets of work life have been carefully designed to maximize the joy potential on the team.

The time employees are not working is also important. Menlo doesn’t do long hours, marathon weekends or all-nighters. Menlo understands that treating employees like machines does not pay off. Get this – employees can even bring their newborn babies to work! If people are stressed and unhappy in one area, it impacts every area. Menlo recognizes this and tries to make sure employees’ needs are met in every area of life.

We Should Do This
So many businesses could differentiate themselves by placing an emphasis on joy. Our world is full of cheap, mass-produced experiences and products; people who are willing to become artisans and craft solutions that bring genuine joy will be massively successful. Menlo is an outstanding example of this.

Stay Tuned – Video Coming Next Week
Next week I’ll be posting a video of my conversation with Rich Sheridan. He shares deep nuggets of wisdom that any entrepreneur could benefit from.

8 Comments

  • Lisa Weikel says:

    Wow, Grant, thank you so much for sharing this fascinating information about Menlo and Rich Sheridan’s outstanding perspective.

    It seems to me that “cultivating joy” is a strategy that will meet with greater and greater success in the very near future. We are close to a tipping point vis-a-vis the way we conduct business and treat each other, including (especially) our employees, that’s going to revolutionize society.

    That may sound hyperbolic, but I truly believe that the vast majority of people in the world, particularly in the “western” world, are tired of treating people (and being treated) like widgets. We really are all in this together. The joy is catching.

    • Grant says:

      Lisa – thanks so much for your kind remarks. The Menlo story and Rich are amazing. I’m encouraged that companies like this exist too. Being an artisan and trying to bake joy into everything you do takes a surprising amount of discipline and focus.

  • Lisa Weikel says:

    Wow, Grant, thank you so much for sharing this fascinating information about Menlo and Rich Sheridan’s outstanding perspective.

    It seems to me that “cultivating joy” is a strategy that will meet with greater and greater success in the very near future. We are close to a tipping point vis-a-vis the way we conduct business and treat each other, including (especially) our employees, that’s going to revolutionize society.

    That may sound hyperbolic, but I truly believe that the vast majority of people in the world, particularly in the “western” world, are tired of treating people (and being treated) like widgets. We really are all in this together. The joy is catching.

    • Grant says:

      Lisa – thanks so much for your kind remarks. The Menlo story and Rich are amazing. I’m encouraged that companies like this exist too. Being an artisan and trying to bake joy into everything you do takes a surprising amount of discipline and focus.

  • Stan Bush says:

    I echo Lisa’s comments. Very good writing and information. Video coming soon too! What fun!

  • Stan Bush says:

    I echo Lisa’s comments. Very good writing and information. Video coming soon too! What fun!