I had coffee this past Easter Monday with Richard Sheridan, President and CEO of Menlo Innovations, a software factory located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Menlo Innovations isn’t another pretty face in the software universe. The company, the founders, and their unique spin on software innovation, have been featured in Forbes magazine, the Wall Street Journal and earned a spot on the 2007 Inc. 500 List of Fastest Growing Private Companies in America.
Whoa. What’s up with this?
Menlo’s Mission is to “end human suffering in the world as it relates to technology™.”
You know something’s up from the get-go with a mission statement like that.
Menlo gives form, function and strategy to project sponsors who, on their own, would run out of funding and patience. Menlo gives joy to end users, compared to their traditional experience of being used as a beta test group for most software innovations. Menlo teams work from 9 to 5: no overtime, no missed vacations or family celebrations or broken relationships and unrealistic expectations on the road to projects which go nowhere.
You know you’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto, when you walk into the innovation space Menlo Innovations occupies. It’s open. No cubicles. No hierarchy. No corporate silos. No bull. Just a whole lot of collaboration and learning and synergy going on. Based on Thomas Edison’s 120 year old model for his Menlo Park, New Jersey “Invention Factory.”
The most unique aspect of Menlo Innovations is that creativity, innovation, programming, coding, and quality work hand-in-hand, in concert throughout the creative process. With rapid product iteration, validation, testing, and client collaboration, projects move forward at warp speed compared to the status quo of companies trying to accomplish these daunting tasks with internal resources.
Mission critical at Menlo Innovations are the High-Tech Anthropologists®, who translate customer needs and provide the unique interface between programmers, software designers, and the real life end users and clients. It is an atmosphere like none other. And the energy is palpable.
Plus, it’s just plain fun to observe. I can imagine what it’s like to be an active participant. And that’s the real essence of Menlo Innovations. It’s all about JOY.
The team culture at Menlo sets them apart. Yes, the company has the right folks for the team. Yes, there is a crazy level of teaching and challenging by these very right people. So everyone gets to the finish line together, with a synergy that should be trademarked. Everyone learns to lead and to follow and to teach and to challenge.
And you thought you created value for your customers. Take a page out of Menlo’s book. In fact, take a training course from Menlo, since “creating value is our passion.” The transparency of their creative process sometimes can create creative tension. Sort of like decision-making plate tectonics. That’s what clients come to Menlo for: to learn how to make the hard calls that result in breakthroughs, enlightened thinking and fluid processes.
I told you it was a culture like none other. And a joyful one.
Software developed by Menlo for its clients is designed for everyday people by Menlo’s High-tech Anthropologists®, built to last by Menlo’s world-class agile software development team, and managed by a set of professional project managers listed among the nation’s 50 Most Prolific by the Project Management Institute. Sheridan and Menlo have won numerous awards and honors, and he and his team regularly are invited to present nationally and internationally sharing the secrets of the Menlo Software Factory™ with all who wish to learn how to build a Learning Organization that can keep pace with today’s advances in software and design.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.