The Rotation

Menlo Innovations is a software company based in Ann Arbor.

They’ve become well known for staying true to their innovative title – not only in the work they produce but in the way they do the work.

One example is in pair programming. This isn’t anything extraordinary on its own; in fact it’s now common to the point of being standard practice at many technology companies. 

What Menlo did a little differently was the rotation.

Each week one of the pair would rotate out and someone new would rotate in.

But the difference wasn’t the rotation itself. It was about who rotated and the outcomes that created.

Every so often, someone with no technical knowledge would go into the rotation. A marketer, a human resources manager, an intern.

And just like the pairs before them, they’d pair program alongside another programming.

Why do this?

It was surely incredibly inefficient. Projects would fall behind, other work would fall by the wayside, and team members would become frustrated.

The rotation of non-technical people into the programming pairs meant that everything had to be simple.

It meant there was no excessive terminology, overly complex systems, or hidden or hoarded knowledge.

It meant diverse perspectives, ideas and experiences came together.

It meant everyone could learn, and everyone could teach.

It meant everyone could tell the story of the company, of the work, and why it mattered.

Rotation is something we could probably use a little more of.

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