I spent the week getting oriented, getting wired into the Borg, and, you know, getting the lay of the land. A lot of up and down stairs. There are elevators too, but mostly stairs. After meeting someone in the lobby, on more than one occasion, I was asked “are you a stair person or an elevator person?”
building itself is a landmark: it was built in 1905 and survived the earthquake and fire of 1906; later it housed Baker & Hamilton, a company that sold shovels to the miners during the California gold rush. It still has many of its original structures, skylights and stairwells. There are original foot-square columns of solid, perfect redwood that are stories tall. There are cool bank vaults with enormous black steel doors, to be discovered here and there as I poke through the cube farm. It’s also profoundly earthquake reinforced, and I have to duck under a monstrous girder extending into the third floor to get to my cube.
Perhaps because my title is “senior innovator” in a group charged with “disruptive innovation” I am consistently getting introduced to interesting, dynamic folks where ever I go. I suppose what surprises me most is just how many really amazing and innovative things are actually going on here. I was lulled into believing my little piece of the Adobe world would be the innovative part. Now I better understand that we’re just one execution of innovation, and that the path to the future would have many faces and require a number of approaches. There’s a lot going on all around me.
When I was at Netflix, I used to say that the leadership of the company had two agendas, a public one and a private one. The public one was to build a new movie distribution business. That’s the Netflix everyone knows. The private one was about the business itself: could a start-up company grow by some set of principles in such a way as to maintain the excitement, fun, and nimbleness of a start-up even as the organization grew larger. The now-famous “Netflix Culture Deck” is a snapshot of learnings there.
Similarly, I have two agendas at Adobe. First, a public one about delivering delightful and useful media tools; but privately addressing a different challenge: how can a large industry leader be innovative enough not to get disrupted from the outside, and ultimately clobbered by newer companies. I hope that in time we can release an “Adobe Innovation Deck” that outlines our recipe for successful disruptive innovation. It’s only my first week, but that’s my plan.