Can you make work joyful?

Can you make work joyful?

December 5, 2013: 11:01 AM ET

By Polly LaBarre

(TheMIX) — For too long, the ruling ideology of too many organizations has been control — controlling people, controlling information, controlling deviations from the norm. Of course, that kind of high fear, low trust culture is exactly the wrong design for unleashing and mobilizing the full potential — the full imagination, initiative, passion—of every single person, every single day.But what is the right design? What would it take to build an organization that inspires, engages, even elevates people (and produces extraordinary performance in the process)?

For Richard Sheridan and his colleagues at Menlo Innovations, a fast-growing software company based in Ann Arbor, MI, the answer to all of the above is one little word: joy. Yes, joy. As Sheridan puts it, “it’s a concept that has no place in the corporate world. It certainly doesn’t sound profitable.” Yet, “joy is the core belief of our workplace…. It defines what we do and how we do it. It’s the single shared belief of our entire team.”

There is no chain of command at Menlo. There are no bosses, no managers, no secrets, no rules, no walls, and no fear. What they have instead are a series of clever mechanisms and radically practical approaches to cultivating collaboration, collective decision-making, focus, and performance — from working in pairs (and rotating partners on a weekly basis), to a strict (and strictly humane) 40-hour work week, to a peer-led approach to hiring called “Extreme Interviewing,” to a wholly original (and refreshingly analog) paper-based approach to planning and setting priorities, to daily 13-minute all-hands meetings and weekly “show and tell” sessions with customers.

There is so much to unpack when it comes to Menlo’s relentlessly clever and deeply human approach to work. Which is why we’re delighted to be hosting a Maverick Hangout with Menlo Innovations co-founder and CEO Richard Sheridan on Thursday, December 5 at 11am ET. We’ll dive into the principles behind building a joy-based culture, talk about what it means to unleash so much freedom, experimentation, openness and amp up productivity, ingenuity, and alignment at the same time. And we’ll get into the details of Menlo’s redesign of so many core management practices. Hangout participants will get a sneak peek into the themes and insights in Rich’s soon-to-be-published book, Joy, Inc.

Rich will be answering your questions, so please tee them up in the comments section here (and via Twitter during the Hangout #joyinc). In the meantime, be sure to check out Rich’s winning Leaders Everywhere Challenge entry.

And if you’re inspired by the ideas behind Menlo Innovations’ original design for work, share your own story or bold idea in the Digital Freedom Challenge. Learn more here.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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