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Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,328 ratings  ·  155 reviews
The moment you walk into Menlo Innovations, you can sense the atmosphere full of energy, playfulness, enthusiasm, and maybe even . . . joy. As a package-delivery person once remarked, “I don’t know what you do, but whatever it is, I want to work here.”

Every year, thousands of visitors come from around the world to visit Menlo Innovations, a small software company in Ann Ar
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published December 26th 2013 by Portfolio
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Nate Mckie
Feb 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
I am grateful for this book. Some partners and I formed a very similar company to Richard at around the same time; he started out Agile whereas we found Agile after a few years of struggle with traditional methods. What Richard describes is music to my ears; Menlo seems to have carried the concepts we embraced much farther than we ever did, and it encourages me that they are still working.  It tells me that we need to find ways to push the envelope even more with the way we work in projects and ...more
Sergey Shishkin
May 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: leadership
The idea to put employee happiness first in order to make customers happy is not new. What is unusual is the openness with which Richard Sheridan talks about experiments – both successful and failed – that his company ran over the years in pursuit of joy at work.

I don't necessarily agree with every aspect of the Menlo way of working. Nonetheless I've enjoyed every chapter of the book and the stories Richard had to tell.

I'd like however to see more discussion on cultural diversity at Menlo. The b
Jan 22, 2015 rated it liked it
This was a pretty good book about work (and I really wish I could give it a 3.5). It was amazing to read of how the author built a workplace that inspires people to do their best while allowing for family life and encouraging community interaction. I just found it difficult to see how this could be translated into other arenas - I'm pretty sure that it would not work in the hospital I work at; well, at least not for the physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other staff - it might be okay in the a ...more
Tony Bottrell
Aug 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: business
If you're a programmer who has always dreamed to work at an assembly line type environment -- where you're surrounded by constant noise, do not have your own place to sit and think, have no ownership over any of your code, take turns holding people's babies while you're trying to work; though half the time you're just watching someone else (dual programming) -- and as a bonus, get to work for a CEO who is in love with himself - then submit your resume right away to Menlo Innovations - and defini ...more
Zach Hughes
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
I didn't enjoy this as much as I hoped I would. With a title like "Joy, Inc" and tagline like "How we built a workplace people love," I expected some big transformation leadership ideas. Instead, I found a tedious and detailed account of software project management tactics and methodologies. Additionally, Sheridan describes the ideal workplace as a "factory." This is hardly a joy-inspiring metaphor. I felt like this was a big bait and switch. ...more
Feb 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some useful insights, but felt it was repetitive and not that much of a how do you. The final chapter provide the most insight on how to begin a journey towards a work place of joy.
Sep 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Sheridan's approach really boils down to letting people's lives not be overrun by work and getting rid of the fear of failure at work. One of the most memorable things Sheridan talked about in his presentation was parents being able to bring their babies into the office if they had childcare problems. This blew me away. It started when an employee was ready to come back to work after maternity leave and her childcare fell through. Since then, other parents have been able to have their babies 'wo ...more
Nic Brisbourne
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love a book that makes me think, and this is definitely one. From the way he tells it Rich Sheridan has done a great job of building a strong business, but more importantly a fantastic culture. His people are happy. On the back of reading this book I'm more sure that's what we should do at Forward Partners and more ambitious for how good that can be.

My key takeaways:
- Pair work sounds amazing, but may be hard to implement working for startups like we do given cost constraints. I believe the a
Alexander Teibrich
The story about Menlo and its unique work style and culture is definitely worth sharing. The personal story telling format makes it a fascinating and easy read that makes you wonder how you can integrate pairing and other practices into your own work. What I am missing is a frame or mental model that provides context and guidance.
Nov 23, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was a lot more about programmers' process than intentional corporate culture. I wasn't able to take anything away that I could really incorporate in my day to day at work. ...more
Feng Ouyang
Sep 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love by Richard Sheridan
This book tells the story of Menlo Innovations, the software service company that the author serves as founder and CEO. The book describes the value, operating principles, and success of the company from various angles. Fundamentally, the book promotes three practices.
• Open space. All employees, including the CEO, share a common workspace without walls. The primary communication tool is “rapid voice system,” which sounds like an
John Gillis
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Richard Sheridan and his partner have dared to act on the belief that man is a being that in and of himself possesses a moral conscience, which springs from his original and essential character, and which his human nature requires. I am paraphrasing the 18th century Radicalists (and Shari’ati). Too melodramatic? I don’t think so, and I have studied businesses (and the human condition) for a lot of years.

The only arguments against Joy, Inc. are that man must be controlled because he is incapable
Apr 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: leadership
This was a very encouraging read. Sheridan finds me to be a like-minded vocational hedonist. If I am going to spend thousands of hours at work each year I want to enjoy this time. There are two factors that distinguish this book from the typical leadership book. First, Sheridan is in the trenches and is actually working as CEO of Menlo Innovations. Second, he convinced me that he actually had helped create this joyful work culture at Menlo. The proof is in the pudding.

The major lessons I will t
Bob Wallner
Jul 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really liked Joy, Inc. You get to look into the world of a company who broke "the rules" of business to build an organization that people really want to work for and with.

The sad reality is that most of us may never have the opportunity to work for a truly joyful company. I don't think that the textbooks are ready to be rewritten to include the word "Joy" into their vocabulary and I think we are still several years/decades from (if ever) from Wall Street embracing this thinking as a business s
Kelsey Yates
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a really good business book. Since it outlines exactly how their business model works, there were fewer principles for me to glean. I loved all the "low-tech" processes (paper, tape, the human voice)they used, especially since they are a software company. Their solution to scope or project creep helped me think about how I plan my time. They have a large square drawn on paper or poster that represents the 40 hour work week. They have cards that are folded to represent the number of hours ...more
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Richard Sheridan and his colleagues at Menlo Innovations have built one of the best places to work in the world -- and it's a software company. The respect, clarity, and fairness of the culture they have created mean that Menlo regularly wins "best company" awards and gets visitors from all over the world studying them to see how its done. And of course the irony is that simple human decency is at the base of their success. It shouldn't be rocket science. It shouldn't take a genius. Then why is ...more
Evgen Schekotihin
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lots of culture elements and processes from Agile.
But here you can find information about:
- pair programming and it stunning cosequences for quality and knowlege sharing
- very poverfull description of fear which kills willingnes for changes, and it`s the main reason of unsuccesfull end of the projects with heavy losses
- and genius win-win position when clients can pay for 50% of work with royalty, and people who works on creation of this product can use 50% of their salary to by that royalty.
Mar 28, 2021 rated it it was ok
This is one relatively small software developer's approach to creating engagement at work. There are some good ideas in here for how to manage software projects in a pair-programming and agile environment, and I think those are the strongest parts of the book. But there's definitely some evangelistic fervor for this one right way of working that feels misplaced and out of touch. This is one book that did not age well at all as a result of the pandemic, because the author insists that WFH can't a ...more
John Newman
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Its wonderful to see the Menlo Innovations story in a book. Rich, James, Bob and team have built a very special company that is worth our attention. I highly recommend reading the story of how they put joy at the top of their corporate mission. And I highly recommend signing up for a tour of their factory (in Tally Hall on Liberty). It will change the way you think about "the office". ...more
Jerico Aragon
Sep 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Some part felt too good to be true, it felt like there's more to it than how it was portrayed. Others are just hands-down insightful (fear being a mind-killer, how they deal with problems, experiments). I read this with a grain of salt: taking what's useful to me, ignoring what my gut tells me to ignore. ...more
Sep 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Reads more like a PR press release or company prospectus. Interesting subject, but I'm very sceptical about the implementation details. I suspect these folks stumbled into a good place and continue to stumble around.
Sarah S.
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Yes! This book totally changed my way of thinking that things had to be a certain way. I love the freedom that it is already bringing into my office.
Dec 16, 2015 rated it liked it
A fascinating, eye-opening read for many, but I've lived the Menlo life. I wanted more examples and a bit more coaching. ...more
Toni SCRUMptious
Re-reading: hot topic at work right now!
Very excited to be going on a virtual tour of Menlo this week.
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I normally avoid tech evangelist books written by CEOs using their life and company as models for changing the world. But when I saw there were 12 copies in my company's library, I decided I should at least read one so I can have an informed and passionate debate with other people who read it. To my surprise, I finished this book to completion in less than 24 hours, finding myself in agreement with many of the concepts presented.

Joy is organized into fifteen chapters and pivots between implement
Suraj Krishnan
Since I am on the verge of setting up my first company, I was tempted to read “Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love“ to build a company culture where everyone loved to come to work. Richard Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovations, a small software company in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has successfully strived to create a culture filled with ”Joy“ which has garnered praise from all around the world.

Richard has attempted to explicate these stories regarding his company’s culture and how it increa
Steve Brown
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Please note that my reviews aren't really review, they are more like my cliff notes that I take while reading books.

Menlo Innovation is a small tech firm in Ann Arbor (been there) Michigan.

Their mission, "end human suffering in the world as it relates to technology"

Being an Active learning organization strengthens our team and make them more valuable to Menlo and our clients. Sustaining and enhancing our ability to share our message with one another and with those outside the company is centra
Max Rohde
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, business, it
Reading through the first 10-20 pages of this book, I was expecting to find revolutionary ideas and practices that can help make work more joyful. I was quite surprised then that most of the practices portrayed are just what I believe most modern software development firms practice (the companies I work(ed) for certainly do). Specifically, a lot of the ideas in the book originate from the so called extreme programming methodology.

Notwithstanding many of the ideas feeling familiar, there were sti
May 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Reading group read. I was hoping to gain overall ideas for improving Joy, outside of the workplace as a retiree. As I was reading I found the book lacking, but in the end, I realize that I fully embraced many of these concepts years ago and because of it I continue to feel an overwhelming sense of joy!

The book is about a software development company, so discussions of QA, programmers, documentation systems, Lean, Six Sigma, etc tickled my career funny bone!

I can always receptive to MORE JOY, so
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reinforced the need for executive level sponsorship for an agile initiative. Although the focus of the book is on how his team adopts and adapts the agile mindset the foundation of that behavior is his support and encouragement. The Menlo process is a blend of scrum and extreme programming. especially as detailed in Chapter 4 "conversations, rituals, and artifacts." Notably, Menlo does 1 week sprints and estimates in hours, not points. But their rigorous reflection and adaptation strike to the h ...more
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