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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January 2021 Menlo Bits


Happy New Year!!!

Goodbye 2020, hello 2021. While we all know it was a tough year, it was also a great year for trying new things. We worked in ways we would have never considered in the past. But best of all, when we opened our virtual doors we made lots of new friends and strengthened relationships with old friends. We would love to hear what you discovered this past year.

I’m sure 2021 will bring its own set of surprises. Let’s hope that most of them are good ones.

Here’s looking at you 2021!



How Would THIS Scale?
Bringing Joy to the Workplace

A frequent question that visitors raise on our tours is "How would this scale?" How would the practices and culture they see at Menlo be applied to organizations that are twice, ten times, or even over a thousand times larger than Menlo? Rich unpacks this question and how joy can scale in his recent blog post.


What, How, and When
Developing an Executive Voice

Having an executive voice isn't just about speaking confidently and articulately in a meeting. It's about understanding the context of the situation so you know when to speak up and when to listen, offering solutions and not just pointing out problems, and staying calm under pressure. Rebecca Shambaugh provides coaching strategies for adding a more strategic executive voice to your leadership tool kit.

Read more here.

Joy and the Bottom Line
Business Value of Joy® Virtual Workshop

Joy in an organizational context is now more important than ever. Start off the new year with a Business Value of Joy® workshop led by one of our co-founders, Rich Sheridan and James Goebel. In this four-hour customizable session, immerse yourself in the business value of joy. We’ll provide an experience tailored for your group on a topic of your choosing.

Some examples might include: building the culture you really want, hiring the right people through Extreme Interviewing, using visual management to plan and track work, how to promote collaboration in your organization, and pursuing democratic leadership. As a team, you’ll walk away having experienced a different way to work, comparing and contrasting your way of working with Menlo’s systems.

Learn more here!

Checking in Without Overstepping
Talking About Mental Health With Your Employees

"Talking about mental health can feel tricky at best and terrifying at worst," Deborah Grayson Riegel says. In her article she talks about how to start a conversation with coworkers about how they are doing without overstepping. She offers advice for how to talk about health holistically, actively listen to one another, and create an open and safe work environment.

Read more here!


The Power of a Venn Diagram
Aligning the Concerns of Tech, Business, and Customers

Mark Hurst's short article clearly communicates one of the most common problems technology teams face: finding the proper overlap between what the tech team can build, what the business can sell, and what the customer actually wants. 

You can find the article here.


You're Not Listening: What You're Missing and Why It Matters
By: Kate Murphy

Recommended by:
Sarah Ball, Software Developer

When we read books or attend courses on communication the emphasis is usually on learning to speak or write in a certain way. Persuasive argument, debate, how to lead a discussion, give a presentation, overcome public speaking anxieties, etc. Too often there is little or no content on the other side of effective communication: listening. Kate Murphy's book unpacks how integral listening is to the equation and how it should take up the majority, not a single chapter, of a communication textbook.

She emphasizes going beyond the performative active listening behaviors most recommend: looking attentive, making eye contact, and parroting back thoughts to the speaker to prove you are listening. Truly listening isn't about looking like you are listening, but actually doing so.

One of the areas I found particularly relevant to how we do things at Menlo was the chapter on user research and focus groups. While the industry trend has been towards big data and quantitative surveys, many valuable insights into product design and customer engagement have come from qualitative studies, where asking potential customers about unrelated topics or allowing them to share personal stories provided key insights into making a successful product.

Likewise, I had to smile when Murphy described businessmen and women being sent to improv classes to learn to better communicate and learn how to "make their partner look good" in the skit. It's a skill we practice regularly at Menlo in our pairing structure, and I'm glad to see other people pursuing the same goal.

Get your own copy here!

Collaboration in Solo Work

Menlonians are used to working in pairs. And when not in a pair, to still be in close contact and collaboration with others. Our more routine marketing tasks are often done solo, but when we were co-located the Menlonians scheduled on marketing on a given day would still be seated at desks in a shared pod with other team members. 

Missing that more connected feeling while remote, the marketing team has been running the experiment of being on a shared video call during the day, even when not actively pairing with others. The video chat is open all day with a rotating number of participants as people peel off for other meetings or tasks and alternate between collaborating and being heads down.

Menlonians can mute and unmute as necessary to indicate if they are working independently and turn down the call's volume to a background noise level while they work. Ethan, one of our developers who has been handling a number of marketing tasks said, "It's a great way to be able to reach out for help with a problem or get a second pair of eyes when you need it."

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.