Lean Blog Interviews — 448: Rich Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovations, on Eliminating Fear and Increasing Joy in Work

Episode page, video, transcript, and more

My guest for Episode #448 of the Lean Blog Interviews Podcast is Rich Sheridan, co-founder, CEO and “Chief Storyteller” of Menlo Innovations, a software and IT consulting firm that has earned numerous awards and press coverage for its innovative and positive workplace culture.

He’s a returning guest from Episode 189 back in 2014 — the same year that I had a chance to visit the Menlo Innovations office.

We talked then about his first book Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love.

His latest book, published in 2019, is Chief Joy Officer: How Great Leaders Elevate Human Energy and Eliminate Fear.

Rich is giving a keynote talk, “Lead With Joy and Watch Your Team Fly!”, at the Michigan Lean Consortium annual conference, being held August 10-11 in Traverse City. I’ll be there and I hope you’ll join us.

Today, we discuss topics and questions including:

  • For those who didn’t hear the first episode, how would you summarize “The Menlo Way”? And how has “the Menlo Way” evolved over the past 8 years?
  • Why is “eliminating fear” so important and what drains joy from the workplace?
  • “Tired programmers make bad software”
  • Sustainable work pace
  • Paired work – Erika and Lisa
  • Individual performance reviews?
  • “We’ve eliminated bosses” — nobody to review you, the team gives feedback, develops growth plan
  • “Let’s run the experiment”
  • Toyota talks about the need for humble leaders — why is humility such an important trait? Do you hire for humility or try to screen out those without much humility?
  • No longer say “we hire for culture fit”
  • “Not an interview, an audition”
  • Leadership lessons from the pandemic– 4 blog posts
  • In “Chief Joy Officer” you write about the proverbial “mask” that leaders feel pressured to wear… masking how we really feel. Were you able to be your authentic whole self at work, fears and all, during the early stages of the pandemic?
  • “Scared and panicked” – was it OK to share that with the team?
  • “They’re all adapting” – as a result of everything we’ve been doing for 19 years

The podcast is sponsored by Stiles Associates, now in their 30th year of business. They are the go-to Lean recruiting firm serving the manufacturing, private equity, and healthcare industries. Learn more.

This podcast is part of the #LeanCommunicators network