My Favorite Mistake — 220: Rich Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovations, Says Run the Experiment … and Make Mistakes Faster

Episode page with transcript, video, and more

My guest for Episode #220 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Rich Sheridan, the 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 the author of two books — first,  Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love, and then his latest, published in 2019, Chief Joy Officer: How Great Leaders Elevate Human Energy and Eliminate Fear.

I’ve interviewed Rich twice in my “Lean Blog Interviews” podcast, we’ve crossed paths at conferences, and I’ve been able to visit the Menlo Innovations office in Ann Arbor (2014).

In this episode, Rich shares two favorite mistake stories from his time as a senior leader at a previous company. Why did one mistake change his life? How did the second mistake help him put himself in the CEO's shoes?

Rich also kindly endorsed my new book:

“At Menlo Innovations, one of our favorite phrases is ‘Make Mistakes Faster!’ It’s not that we like making mistakes, we just prefer making small mistakes quickly rather than BIG mistakes slowly. The difference comes from creating a culture where we are safe to share our mistakes. In The Mistakes That Make Us, author Mark Graban teaches all of us how to do this and shares story after real story of the benefits. It would be a BIG mistake to ignore this wisdom!”

Questions and Topics:

  • Why the title “chief storyteller?”
  • How do you define “joy” in the workplace?
  • What’s your role as CEO in helping others find joy or be joyful?
  • Joy vs. happiness?
  • Deming connections: pride, fear
  • Why is eliminating fear so important to you and Menlo?
  • You say, “one of your favorite phrases at Menlo Innovations is ‘Make Mistakes Faster!” — tell us more about that… 
  • “Fear makes bad news go into hiding…”
  • “Let’s run the experiment” — tell us more, “try stuff and see if it works”
  • Being open to small mistakes as a way to avoid big ones? An experiment in working with you?
  • “Without the stories, Menlo doesn’t make sense”
  • Paired work

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