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October 2021 Menlo Bits


Happy Halloween from Menlo!

This spooky season, Menlo software developer Sarah decided to draw an evolving Zoom background featuring the scary and unpleasant things that go bump in the night for developers. Sarah says, "It was really fun throwing in some by special request, such as a ghost trap for Ember after one project team had a particularly harrowing time upgrading Ember."


My Journey to Menlo

The journey to Menlo looks different for all Menloninans, and this has to do with our untraditional, but intentional hiring practices. With our culture being key to our organization, we’re always thoughtful of who we bring on the team, and the unique perspectives they can bring. Because of this, our team members have all kinds of stories of their journey to success at Menlo, and we’re happy to share them!

This first story comes from one of our software developers, Samantha White, sharing how not everything always goes to plan, but can still work out in the end. Read about her journey here!


How to Be an Ethical Designer: What I Learned From Interviewing Ethical Designers
What it takes to actually practice ethical design.

When organizations talk about their design departments, are they adequately including ‘ethical design’ practices? In this article, Michelle Scott of the All Tech Is Human Mentorship Program investigates what it takes to actually practice ethical design, and where there are still gaps.

‘All inclusive design’ is often stated as important but is secondarily – or if at all – thought of in final product design. Ethical Designers – when Scott could find them – felt like their contribution was difficult to make or be heard. Tech companies especially often state that they are designing ‘inclusively’ but need to make sure those design voices are heard and supported.

We’re grateful for two projects we’re working on now that help keep us honest on maintaining the right perspective – designing a mobile application to allow riders to utilize paratransit services and, more subtly, an application utilizing 3D scan technology to support users who are sometimes color blind. This thoughtful article points out to us that we have more work to do. Read the full article here!


NEW WORKSHOP: Pairing to Solve Business Problems
Pairing: Not Just for Software Development!

Pairing - it’s not just for software developers! Did you know that most roles at Menlo also pair, and all roles pair at some point? This crucial practice has been instrumental in coping with the rapid change to a remote, and now hybrid, workforce. If you find your team members struggling with loneliness and isolation, observe communication breakdowns, or are held hostage by a ‘tower of knowledge’ in any role - you may want to see how pairing could help your organization. Learn more and register here!


A Joyful Moment for Your Day
Watch a mama bear teach her cub how to use a playground slide

Take a little break and watch this unbearably cute video of a mama bear caught on camera showing her cub how to use a playground slide at an elementary school in North Carolina. Watch the full video here!

The Prosperity Project - Menlo's Levels Board

Background: Menlo’s employee feedback and promotion process is run by the team, reinforcing the company’s cultural intentions of joy, collaboration, and collective ownership. Menlonians decide who gets hired, promoted, or fired. As a team, it is our responsibility to evaluate the “appropriate level” for each team member, give them actionable feedback on how to grow and help them along on this journey. 

The Problem: Two problems have actually emerged: One, when we switched to remote work, away from our open office environment, it became more difficult to observe team members’ performance. And two, determining the right pay level for an employee - a challenge pre-pandemic/remote work - became amplified. Not only did the expectations change for performance, but this less defined process was difficult to follow when we were remote. 

The Experiment: We have made several attempts at improving our level evaluations and feedback process over the years. This time, we looked to our well-understood Menlo systems, and we created an internal project called “Prosperity” to tackle these problems. (The story behind how the project got its name is a tale in and of itself that we will reserve for another day.) The Prosperity team created a standard set of story cards that map out the steps that should be used when conducting a level review. We have so far run level reviews for five team members using the Prosperity process. The results have been wonderful so far. 

We are holding a free virtual lunch panel discussion on the Prosperity Project on December 10, 2021. Drop your email here and we’ll let you know when registration opens!

Menlo Innovations Notebook

Take notes in style with a Menlo notebook! The softcover notebook is black and measures 5" x 7", and fits inside the executive notebook cover. The hardcover notebook is orange and measures 5" x 8" with elastic closure and included pen.

Order yours here!

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.