I came upon Richard Sheridan and his writings only recently. He clearly loves what he does at Menlo Innovations, and this comes shining through in his book Joy, Inc (from 2013) and elsewhere (like Twitter).
One of the big takeaways I keep coming back to after a couple weeks is the damage that fear does to people and organizations. It drives all sorts of behaviors that lower the productivity of everyone around us. Even more is the belief that we aren’t operating under fear. Any time you think “I couldn’t possibly …” or “they won’t .…” there is fear under the surface. There is also fear when you feel like you have to protective your turf in the organization.
So what is “joy”? Of course, that is in the opening pages. It is the satisfaction that comes in seeing the results of extensive, exhausting, difficult work. In reading the opening, I was reminded of Eli Goldratt’s writing on “how to have a full life” - Have meaningful successes through collaboration, many opportunities, and stamina (to overcome the inevitable failures). There are a lot of parallels in Sheridan’s writings here.
The book is primarily the journey Sheridan took to develop Meno Innovations. He provides a lot of examples of what they did and how they learned. They have developed a strong environment of rapid experimentation - keeping and improving what works, tossing or modifying what doesn’t. And toward the end of the book he also talks about what is still to be developed - there are always opportunities to learn and grow as individuals and as organizations.
While the book has plenty of examples from Menlo’s perspective, I was hoping for more explicit how-to, in the book. I suspect that wasn’t the point of the book. There is a follow-on book that he published last year, Chief Joy Officer: How Great Leaders Elevate Human Energy and Eliminate Fear. Back to eliminating fear. Interesting. And while the how-to wasn’t black and white in the book, it was there: Experiment. Learn. Grow.