As Featured In:

Welcome to Menlo Innovations, a custom software design & development firm whose mission, since its founding in 2001, is to end human suffering in the world as it relates to technology.®

Menlo’s primary goal has always been to return joy to technology, for the business sponsors who pay for it to be built, for the end users who need it for their daily work, and for the software teams who do the work to build it.

While its primary business is designing and developing custom software on behalf of its business customers, it is Menlo’s culture that garners a lot of attention. So much so, that over 3,000 people a year make the trip to visit Menlo to tour and learn from their unique approach to company culture in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan.

What visitors see is a big open room, with Menlonians working in pairs … two people, sharing a keyboard and a mouse, co-designing and co-developing the unique software to meet their clients’ needs. Visitors can actually feel the human energy of those pairs in constant conversations as they work through the challenging problems of complex software development. They see walls filled with visual management systems to keep everyone transparently informed about the work plans for each project, and the up-to-date progress on all the tasks associated with the projects.

The pairs are assigned and are switched at least every five business days. The amount of information exchange that occurs every day ensures that no one person is a singular tower of knowledge on a project or technology. It means that team members can take vacations without taking work with them.

When Menlonians need to share anything with each other, they typically don’t use electronic communication, rather they use what they affectionately refer to as High-speed Voice Technology … they talk to one another. Quaint AND effective!

Visitors also learn about Menlo’s unique approach to design. It is called High-Tech Anthropology®. Menlo firmly believes that if you want to have software work well for the people who use it, you must study those users the way an anthropologist would: in their native environment. We must learn their workflows, their habits, their vocabulary, and their very personal goals and then use all of this information to design the user’s experience. The result? Software that does not need user manuals, help text or training classes because it is intuitive.

Menlo’s belief is that joy derives from being able to go to work, get meaningful things actually done, and do so in an environment that allows everyone a chance to work with pride.

Their ultimate joy occurs when they see the results of their hard work out in the world, delighting the end users so much that those same users exclaim “I love this software. It makes my life better.”

Menlo achieves this, not by chance, but by intention. Menlo has built an intentionally joyful culture that they readily share with the world through tours, classes, talks and books.

Other INNOVATE® Ecosystems