In this month of joy, I can think of no better post than writing a review of Joy, Inc. Personally, a big part of this year, for me, was bringing joy back to work. I wanted to feel happy going to work each day not just for myself but for my teammates too. I wanted them to feel joy in the work we do because I believe that’s when we produce the best results.
Joy, Inc. is a mix between author, Richard Sheridan’s memoir and practical applications of leadership and Agile methodology. This book is a great read for those looking to help inspire their teams, increase productivity, and bring joy back to the workplace.
I enjoyed reading about Sheridan’s career and his descriptions first falling for computers in the 1970’s to working in an IT department in the 1990’s. We have learned so much in that time that what seems common sense to us now was still being figured out then. Sheridan’s “journey to joy” is definitely an entertaining tale.
Sheridan is an advocate of Agile Scrum methodology and Joy, Inc. is filled with examples, ideas, and experiments to try for your team. For Sheridan and his company, Menlo, they use co-located teams, paired programming, real paper to track User Stories, and in-person daily standups. I especially like his advice on trying out office experiments for one to two weeks to see if they work or not. Some examples are switching up team roles (project managers try being a developer, business analysts try their hand at project management) or holding daily standups.
The only qualm I have with Joy, Inc. is its insistence that software development can’t happen in remote teams using Scrum. We live in a world today where 45% of IT teams work remotely and 88% of development teams practice agile. We are continually moving towards a world of remote, flexible work. Technology enables us in these remote capacities, especially with the advance of AR and VR.
So, while some of the concepts in the book are out of style (a developer told me that no one uses paired programming anymore), the message is clear. Create joy in the workplace that fits into your corporate culture.
My Own Menlo Experience
I volunteered at Menlo during the summer of 2006. I had just graduated high school and was about to start my freshman year at college. Little did I know what the impact volunteering at Menlo would have on my professional life.
I knew I liked computers, web design, and interacting with people. I wasn’t super technical but I could tell what seemed to work and what didn’t as far as functionality goes. Because of this, they decided to put me in the position of “High Tech Anthropologist”.
At Menlo, I heard terms thrown around like “persona cards” and “daily standup”. We worked in pairs, and Menlo hosted “Agile Workshops”. I attended these workshops and daily standups without really understanding what I was taking part in.
It wouldn’t be until four and a half years later after I started working on my first project for Atos, did I understand the great value of what I had participated in at Menlo. That first introduction to working with diverse teams, true team spirit, and Agile Scrum shaped my workplace worldview for years to come.