Never work weekends again: The keys to a sustainable work pace

A conversation with Rich Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovations, on how agile methods enable his team to build a sustainable and humane work pace while still meeting the needs of his business.

Brought to you by: Project Management Telesummit: March 8-10, 2011 – Don’t miss hearing Rich speak at the Telesummit.

richardsheridanSoftware development projects are notorious for being driven by emergencies and constantly shifting priorities. This often leads to long days, nights and weekends for everyone involved in the project. My guest today says it does not have to be that way.

What if the process you adopt allows you to never work weekends or nights again and yet still accomplishes the business goal by the deadline?

Today, I have the distinct pleasure to chat with Rich Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovations, about his 10 years experience using specific agile processes that enable a sustainable, humane work pace while still meeting the needs of his business. The result is high morale, better quality, and a work/life balance that most employers and employees can only dream about.

Rich will share with us how estimation, planning, and emergencies are handled as well as how resources are assigned to multiple projects in a way that is both efficient and effective for cross-training and mentoring.

Richard Sheridan’s team at Menlo Innovations breaks all the rules and, in doing so, produces phenomenal results for its customers. No walls, offices, doors or cubes — one big open room, a la Edison’s original invention factory in Menlo Park, New Jersey. In this noisy, fun atmosphere Menlo has produced software for all walks of industry from health care, to scientific equipment, to high-fashion ecommerce, to diesel motor vehicle diagnostics, and many more. Sheridan and his team regularly are invited to present nationally and internationally sharing the secrets of the Menlo Software Factory™ with all who wish to learn how to build a Learning Organization that can keep pace with today’s advances in software and design. He has been working with Agile teams for more than a decade and has recently undertaken a new mission: returning joy to the world of software development.

The Interview

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  • How did you get interested in the topic of a sustainable work pace and why should project managers pay attention to this topic?
  • Define for us what you mean by a sustainable work pace and why it is challenging to achieve this state with the current ways we manage projects.

  • At a high level, how does agile enable sustainable work pace?

  • You describe current planning process in most organization as “emergency driven PM”. Describe to us what you see as inefficient way of planning and contrast that with the agile planning process.

  • Talk to us about what you see wrong with this approach and how you approach planning using the weekly “planning game” in the Menlo Software Factory.

  • Walk us thru the agile tools that teams can use to increase resource flexibility and faster/better prioritized decisions
    • War rooms
    • Co-located cross-functional teams
    • Visualization through wallboards displays
    • Strong estimating practices
    • The planning game
    • Pairing, code stewardship, automated unit testing, and overcoming brooks’ law
  • Tell us about the type of work that you do as part of Menlo Innovations and give us examples of types of projects that shows how you help your clients achieve their goals.

Contact Information

About Menlo Innovations:

Several books reference Menlo’s unique approach including Creativity @ Work by Jeff DeGraff, and Innovate Like Edison by Michael Gelb and Sarah Miller Caldicott.

A listing of awards and honors include:

  • Inc.’s 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies in America (Inc. Magazine)
  • Fast Track Award (Washtenaw Development Council)
  • Top Small Workplaces – Finalist (Wall Street Journal & Winning Workplaces)
  • Emerging Leader (Automation Alley)
  • Cool Places to Work (Crain’s)
  • Alfred P. Sloan Award for Workplace Flexibility (When Work Works)
  • WORK/SPACES award for Creativity (Ann Arbor Business Review)
  • Entrepreneur of the Year – Finalist (Ernst & Young)
  • 101 Best & Brightest Companies to Work For – Elite Winner
  • Leaders and Innovators (Lawrence Technical University)
  • 50 Most Prolific Leaders in Project Management (Project Management Institute)
  • World’s Most Democratic Organizations – WorldBlu
  • IAESTE (International Association Engineering Students for Technical Education) Employer of the Year

Listen now:

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*Our opening and closing theme song is music by the wonderful Paul Hardcastle and www.paulhardcastle.com

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One Response to Never work weekends again: The keys to a sustainable work pace
  1. [...] Aidane posted a podcast of his interview with Rich Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovations, who talks about using Agile methods to set a sustainable pace.  He also [...]

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