Ann Arbor's Menlo Innovations focuses on staff participation, wins award

One of the big knocks against businessmen turned politicians is they won't be able to make the transition to the consensus-building political world from the autocratic universe that typically pervades corporations. That latter description doesn't exist at Menlo Innovations.

The Ann Arbor-based company was recently named one of the 40 Most Democratic Workplaces by WorldBlu, an Austin-based non-profit specializing in organizational democracy. The idea behind the list is to highlight firms that give employees more freedom, letting them have a voice in how the company runs instead of bowing before a cubicle dictatorship.

Menlo Innovations is the only Michigan company on the list.

"It's so embedded in how we do things it would be almost unnatural for us to do it any other way," says Richard Sheridan, president and CEO of Menlo Innovations.

Sheridan maintains that providing this type of freedom in the workplace helps empower employees to be more creative and productive. And then there is the morale boost such empowerment brings to the workforce.

Sheridan also draws the comparison that today's economic woes are magnified by a lack of ethics and transparency. Employee empowerment helps dispel both of those, allowing employees to reveal and nip problems in the bud sooner when they are more easily correctable.

Menlo Innovations also relays this type of culture through its work space. There are no cubicles, assigned computers or even set job assignments in its Kerrytown office. Instead there is a wide open space employees can customize and they are often grouped or regrouped for projects. It's these employees who were surveyed to see if the company deserved the award from WorldBlu.

Richard Sheridan, president and CEO of Menlo Innovations
Writer: Jon Zemke
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Related Company

  • Menlo Innovations
    410 N. 4th Ave., Godfrey Building, 3rd Floor
    Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104 Website
    Menlo Innovations is an Ann Arbor software design and development firm that strives to forever end the "stupid user" syndrome by making products that are intuitive to their clients' needs. From their iconcoclastic work space to their underlying ...