Our tours of Menlo Innovations' factory floor have now gone virtual. We'll spend 90 minutes together sharing Menlo's history, values, culture and practices - and how we've transitioned to where we are today.


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February 2021 Menlo Bits

We're running a new experiment: our Extreme Interview has gone virtual!  We recently ran our first virtual Extreme Interview for 10 candidates and plan to run another session soon. 

If you are interested in participating in the Extreme Interview, we are currently interviewing for Software Developer and Quality Advocates. Check out our careers page for more information about how to apply.  We're so excited to be adding to the team!

Leadership Toolkit
How to Create a Psychologically Safe Workplace

One of our Menlonians found this gem of an article by Rebecca Carnahan. In it she covers Professor Amy Edmondson's Leadership Toolkit for how leaders can build a workplace in which people are comfortable expressing and being themselves, without fear of retribution or embarrassment. This can be done by:
  1. Setting the stage so that employees know how their open expression of feedback and ideas can advance team goals.
  2. Inviting participation by having leaders present a learning mindset that communicates to employees that bosses know they don't have all the answers. The voices of others in the organization need to be heard to help achieve their goals. 
  3. Responding proactively to feedback lets employees know that their input is appreciated and respected and informs the path forward.
You can read the full article here!

Reimagined High-Tech Anthropology® Tours: 
Covering Discovery and Design in Two Parts

There is so much to cover when it comes to our High-Tech Anthropology® process, so we decided to give this topic the time it deserves! Our 90 minute Taste of High-Tech Anthropology® virtual tour has now been split into two tours: Discovery and Design. Part 1:Discovery covers how we collect data from observations and interviews and how we debrief and synthesize what we have learned. Then Part 2:Design picks up where Discovery left off covering workflows, brainstorming designs, and running design assessments. By popular demand, we have added more examples of how we are doing this work in a remote environment.

Each tour is 60 minutes long +30 minutes of Q&A time at the end. We've added more case studies, drawn in more artifacts from our past projects, and left ourselves more time to answer all your questions.


Outcomes Achieved, Not Credits Earned
Learning and Development Done Right

It's easy to mandate employees participate in professional learning or incent them by linking their participation to promotions, but is that actually effective? Is the $359 billion spent globally by organizations on training money well spent? Probably not. Steve Glaveski breaks down not only how learning and development can fail, but how it can be done right instead. Read more about lean learning here!


Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
By: David Epstein

Recommended by:
Sarah Ball, Software Developer

Specialization is big across industries. From athletics, to medicine, to technology, people are told to narrow their expertise and build their careers accordingly. Those who follow the "cult of the head start" like to point to success stories like the Polgar sisters, raised to be chess prodigies, or Tiger Woods, who started golfing before he was two. Their claim is that mastery requires 10,000+ hours of practice, so dedication early without divergence is needed to stand out in one's field.

Epstein's book turns this on its head and instead unpacks how generalists can often outperform their specialist counterparts. Chess and golf might favor the specialist, but they are not representative of all fields. In "kind" environments where similar challenges occur repeatedly—such as chess and golf—experience can be key to success. However, most environments are "wicked", and instead offer novel situations, where the rules of the game are unclear or incomplete. For example, to cure cancer requires novel thinking, and that's where generalists thrive.

I really enjoyed the variety of examples Epstein offers across industries of how knowledge from one field enriched another. The book also includes advice for how to improve one's generalist skills and watch out for the pitfalls of specialization. A great read and highly recommended!

Get your own copy here!

Our Experiment With Using Mural: A Tale of Two Experiments

Our transition to working remotely left Menlo questioning, “How in the world will we continue to share joy with others through our workshops?” 

In typical Menlo fashion, when faced with a problem we decided to run an experiment.  We did not want to invest too much up front because one of our key tenets for running experiments is to start with the simplest thing. At the time, Google Suite was one of our most used tools when collaborating remotely, so we utilized it when building the hands-on exercises for our workshop. We knew this likely wouldn’t be a perfect match for all the exercises, but we knew we would learn a lot about running workshops virtually by trying something. Fast forward to today and our virtual workshop experiment is still ongoing. We are running regular private and public workshops and are thrilled to often have multiple countries represented in any given workshop! Joy!

Then came part two of the experiment. We were seeing patterns in workshop attendee feedback that the Google Slides format presented some challenges, especially for our Planning Game exercise in our Project Management (PM) Workshop. Several attendees suggested that we try using Mural, so we decided to run another experiment. Rather than completely update the entire PM workshop content, we started small, only updating the Planning Game exercise and testing it out in our next workshop. The user feedback was very positive. Our instructors noticed the exercise took much less time for groups to complete and we received some concrete suggestions on how to improve upon the exercise in Mural.

Since then, we have run many other experiments using Mural to facilitate our Persona Mapping and planning sessions on some of our projects along with many other forms of internal collaboration. We are very excited to keep running experiments to see where else Mural can support our needs!

Menlo Bits

The Menlo Bits is Menlo's monthly newsletter, filled with all the latest in science and technology trends as well as what's been happening at Menlo.