Menlo Innovations

Menlo Innovations

Menlo Innovations is a custom software design and development company located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The mission of Menlo Innovations is to “end human suffering in the world as it relates to technology.” This done by intentionally focusing their company culture on joy. 


Their story

“Their filtering process begins with the Extreme Interview, an event in which applicants are paired to interview for a handful of positions with the explicit goal of getting their pair partner hired. The pair is given a timed, role­ specific task to work on. Current Menlonians document their observations of the pair collaborating under pressure. If they pass this basic test for kindergarten skills and team members can imagine themselves successfully pairing with the candidate, the individual is invited back for a paid one ­day trial to pair in on a real project. The team begins to assess technical skills, ability to ask good questions, admit gaps in knowledge, and give, receive, and respond to constructive feedback. Candidates who make a positive impression are asked to return for a three­-week trial, where the same evaluation will continue at a deeper level. At each step in this process, it is front­line team members who pair with the candidate to determine fit, value, and potential based on first­hand experience with the person, as opposed to what a resume suggests. Once hired, it is the team who takes collective responsibility for the continual evaluation, growth, and success of their co-workers.”

“Collaboration at Menlo is the core part of organizational culture and, therefore, has a huge impact on what it looks and feels like to work here. The fact that all work at Menlo is the collaborative product of many employees also allows people to share the joy of their successes and the burden of their failures.”

Their advice

“Hire people who are a good fit for the collaborative culture you want to promote. Be honest and open about your expectations, giving feedback along the way so they know the areas to work on improving. Remember that feedback can be difficult and requires both patience and vulnerability, so encourage your team to work together to improve communication. Finally, whether your candidates become a permanent part of the team or not, pay them for their work and praise them for their contributions.”

“To improve the ability to collaborate in your existing physical environment, take down the walls and cubes, and ask team members to take out their ear buds. Observe the changes and adapt accordingly, recognizing that change can be uncomfortable… Also, provide areas where team members can still find privacy, such as conference or break rooms.”

“Start with smaller teams so that you can demonstrate success. Once a small group can show that the process is working within your organization, it is much easier to continue and spread the practice throughout the rest of your business.”

Submitted 2017