Shantanu Narayen Curated

Chairman, President, and CEO of Adobe Inc

CURATED BY :  

This profile has been added by users(CURATED) : Users who follow Shantanu Narayen have come together to curate all possible video, text and audio interview to showcase Shantanu Narayen's journey, experiences, achievements, advice, opinion in one place to inspire upcoming operations managerss. All content is sourced via different platforms and have been given due credit.

  • Did the subscription model affect the customer relationship?

    The subscription model put the customer experience front and centre. And we became a company that embraced the always-on reality of the digital business, delivering a continuous stream of innovation to our customers and focusing on building our customer’s business and trust every single day.

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  • List some of the product-line expansion challenges faced by Adobe.

    Adobe wasn’t growing in line with the explosion of content that was being created. Its product cycles were too slow to keep up with the pace of innovation that its engineers wanted to deliver. It didn’t have a direct relationship with our customers to understand which features would have the most value. They were struggling to attract the next generation of users.

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  • You were at Adobe for the transition from point products to the Creative Suite that bundled them together. You've said some customers complained about that, too. Is the Creative Cloud backlash worse this time around?

    What's common across all of them is that when we first introduced the offering, there were questions that came up. I don't know how to relatively measure it, but we successfully innovated against the Creative Suite agenda, and now everybody looks it and says that was absolutely the right product. If we do our job right, which we will, people will look at the Creative Cloud and say it was the right agenda for Adobe.

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  • I recognize that you're innovating. What I was asking is whether this is getting customers to spend more money than they were spending before?

    If you look at the spectrum of customers, you'll find it is a lot cheaper for a lot of them. And for some it was an increase in money. We're trying to drive the next generation of creativity.

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  • With the Creative Cloud shift, are you in effect upselling customers who otherwise wouldn't be upsold?

    Absolutely not. We have point product offerings, and we will continue to innovate around point products. This is about enabling us to innovate at a faster pace and letting us deliver directly to customers through the cloud.

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  • I recognize it's ancient history by Silicon Valley standards. Is it fair to say the upshot is that you're in effect reimplementing Flash with Web technologies?

    When we want to have great standards for people to express their creativity, if standards exist, we support them, and if standards don't exist, we create them. We're still pushing the envelope with Flash in what happens [in] gaming and high-definition video. We're pushing with HTML in publishing and animation and interactivity. Standards are a means to an end.

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  • Are you on the same page with Apple now? There was that fractious period with the Flash wars and Steve Jobs.

    We were always aligned delivering great products on the Mac platform. There were business areas where we disagreed. With digital publishing, we're downloading millions of editions of Folio on iPad devices. With products like PhoneGap, we want to enable people to build great apps, whether they be HTML or native apps, for the iOS platforms. We showed at WWDC that we're supporting their graphics capabilities to provide greater functionality. It's always been a case where we're jointly focused on customers. We agreed to disagree, but that's all so behind us right now.

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  • Are we going to see a relative shift toward online services in the value delivered through Creative Cloud?

    You will see more emphasis on services that extend the functionality in the areas of collaboration and tying together all these desktop and mobile applications, yes.

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  • Can we expect the balance between packaged software and online services in the Creative Cloud to stay the same, or are online services going to become more important?

    There's no question we'll be delivering more services. But when there's magic technology that needs to be embedded in our applications, we've done that. As we've invested more in the video, [we have] been gaining market share with video products, Premiere, and After Effects. We've been buying technologies to help make that video work better for our customers. We'll continue to innovate as well as acquire. We get great DNA with desktop products, mobile products, and services.

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  • Two years ago, you acquired Web publishing companies like PhoneGap and TypeKit, but there's still a certain lack of enthusiasm for your Web publishing and app development tools. Unlike with Flash, you no longer own the platform anymore, so the competition is a lot stronger. Are you up to scratch, or is there a lot more work to be done?

    At Max, we talked about tremendous progress we've made associated with our Web strategy, first with contributing to standards. We're taking a number of our desktop publishing technologies and making them available through WebKit [the browser engine used by Apple Safari and on which Chrome's Blink engine is based]. With our digital publishing solutions, a lot is delivered through HTML technology. We are contributing actively to the browsers. When you look at the Edge set of tools [for interactive Web site development], we have millions of downloads. We have a family of tools, starting with Edge Animate. We have Muse as a mechanism for people to update their Web sites. I'm pleased with the number of contributions our team has made, but we're not done yet.

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  • When you talked about bringing disgruntled customers into to the Creative Cloud fold, is that just appealing to photographers and addressing the file-access issue? Or are there grander plans afoot -- for example pricing changes or maybe smaller sub-clouds, not the full package, that might be cheaper?

    David [Wadhwani, general manager of Adobe's digital media business,] is championing the outreach to the community. It is a little premature in terms of having plans finalized that I can share with you.

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  • I wasn't trying to suggest you wanted to leave customers behind. But is it fair to say the folks who aren't happy with Creative Cloud are the ones who are most expendable from a business standpoint -- the ones would not upgrade frequently and who weren't actively engaged in the Adobe road map?

    Every customer is a customer we want to make the journey with us. We will work hard to demonstrate why innovation is better accomplished through the Creative Cloud.

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  • But who's not signing up for subscriptions? Casual users? Hobbyists?

    We segment our customers as creative pros who use it to make living, people at work who use it to make their jobs more productive, and hobbyists and people at home who enjoy digital creation. The Creative Cloud composition today mirrors fairly well, both for customer segmentation and geography, people who've subscribed to Creative Suite. This notion by moving to Creative Cloud we're intending to leave customers behind is false. In other words, the majority of the people who bought Creative Suite were creative pros, and that's true for the Creative Cloud. It's the same thing as at work and at home.

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  • So what customer types are you leaving behind?

    We don't want to leave a single customer behind. Even with previous Creative Suite products, there are people who choose not to do business with Adobe.

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  • Does a predictable revenue stream make life easier for Adobe compared to the fits and starts of the upgrade model?

    I think that's a byproduct, honestly. The best part of the business is to be able to innovate at a rapid pace. What could be more important to a company? Apple comes out with the Retina display; we can have a version of Photoshop that runs with it. There's a new GPU [graphics processing unit] that Apple shows at WWDC; we can have a full version of Photoshop with filter effects optimized for that. That's what product people and engineers like to do. That's the biggest business advantage we have.

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  • From the standpoint of Adobe's business, what are the advantages of a subscription model, and how does that payback customers in the longer run?

    The first and fundamental part of the business is allowing product teams to innovate at a more rapid pace. At the end of the day, innovation leads to better business because it leads to better customer solutions. With the traditional 18-month product cycle, an engineer could come up with great product ideas and they'd have to wait for the next version of that software to get that idea to market. Today, application stores are changing how you get your content delivered, with new devices emerging all the time. The second huge advantage from a business point of view is we're having a direct relationship with customers. On the Creative Cloud whether it's good, neutral, or [negative] feedback they want to give us, customers now have the ability to give us feedback in real-time. We understand who is coming to Adobe.com and how they want to transact business with us. The next generation of creatives is very comfortable with this approach of being able to pay for software as you use it. The world is moving increasingly toward subscription models being the norm on the Internet. If we innovate and attract new customers, it will lead to growth.

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  • How much impactful was the Adobe shift to the Creative Cloud solutions?

    The results overall say we're ahead of where we thought we would be when started the move to the Creative Cloud. If I look at the key goals we had of trying to move to the cloud, to be able to attract new customers, we're certainly attracting new customers as a result of the affordable pricing. We're hearing from customers that they like access to the new updates. [With the subscription, Adobe releases new features as they're done instead of waiting for a major release cycle to end.] We're showing things like what we can do with [improving photos with] deblur in the cloud, or potentially to run Photoshop streaming on an iPad. In the big picture, we've successfully migrated the ability of our product people to have rapid innovation. We integrated Behance [a social network for creative professionals]. Behance had the most number of signups and engagement in their history with one day of this new Creative Cloud application. The results tell us we're building a predictable revenue stream and a framework for the next-generation creator. There is a concern we've heard from some customers, whether they be from the photography community or [about] how they have continued access to their content after the subscription ends. We're very diligent as a company. We're very customer-focused, thinking through what we can do to help with that transition, but no company has done the kind of transition we have done. I would say we're well on our way to a very successful transition.

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  • During the business model reengineering, which were the toughest pieces and which were the easiest?

    Instead of toughest challenges, I would say the thing I underestimated was how important it was to keep communicating - internally and externally to the company, why we were making this change. In your mind, you have made that switch. But successful companies have to keep reiterating the communication. That is one of the learnings. Overcommunicate where you are going. You also have to keep inspecting where you are going, even if it is only a small part of the business, rather than where you have come from. The tendency is to focus on where the power is. If you are making a change, new businesses normally do not "have power" because they do not have the revenue. But your actions are going to signal a lot to people. As a leader, wherever you are going, you have to focus a lot on it. Backsliding will send a very mixed message. The easiest part of the change was the fundamental belief that we could deliver more value to customers. That is what gave us confidence.

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  • How soon does it take for integration?

    It depends on the size. The recipe we follow for all our acquisitions is we appoint a sponsor within a company to make sure the integration goes right. Brad Rencher (Senior Vice-President of Digital Marketing) may be a sponsor for one. David Wadhwani (Senior Vice-President of Digital Media) may be for another. So, we have the notion of an executive sponsor - a person who is going to carry forward the integration over the line. We are focused and disciplined on that.

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  • So, what are the lessons on doing smart acquisitions?

    One, look at the strategic rationale. We spend a lot of time on it. Two, key is to do a really deep dive into the technology. Make sure there is depth in technology of the company. We are, after all, a product company and for us the technology is important. Three, equally important is people. If there is not a cultural fit, you can fool yourself thinking it will happen. We have spent an inordinate number of time making sure there is a cultural fit.

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  • You have built your digital marketing portfolio through acquisitions. Omniture, Efficient Frontier, and Neolane, among others. How do you zero in on companies? How do you deal with deals that getaway?

    This is such a large opportunity that in the grand scheme of things, you just have to stay focused. To use a sporting analogy - nobody is going to make a century every time they go out to bat. As long as you score more often than you fail, that's progress. Specifically, for Adobe, in digital marketing, we have a very comprehensive platform right now. We have made smart acquisitions including Omniture and Neolane. We always look for great tech and great people. Conversely, if the cultural fit is not there, we will walk away. Our success is predicated on amplifying any product we buy into our company.

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  • Often, during the transition, shareholders are not patient. Several companies changing their models have lost their leadership due to shareholder activism. How do you deal with that?

    We had, what will go down as, a seminal analyst meeting in 2011 where we talked about where we are headed as a company. I think shareholders are incredibly perceptive if you are clear about where you are headed. If you provide milestones along the way and if you measure yourself against the milestones so that people have something to calibrate you against, they understand. If you simply say "trust me" and then not be transparent, you will not be rewarded. The general advice is: if there is change, then you have to be clear about the metrics that demonstrate how you are going to make progress.

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  • As the world moves to different revenue models, usage-based and outcome-based, how do you cope? You have moved to a subscription-based, pay-per-use-based, and SAAS (software as a service) model. It must have hurt financially?

    The good news is that we have been through the transition already. If you look at our Q1 result you will see the transition is, for the most part, behind us. But while going through the transition you have to have fortitude. One thing companies need to do is be transparent. Also, revenue is not always a metric. Usage is. That gives people confidence that strategy is on the right track. In our case, really, it was about understanding trends and looking at where we think the industry is headed. Ten years ago there was the bundling of channels in terms of video experience. Now it is about unbundling the channels to monetize it more. If you understand what the trends are and if you have the right metrics to understand it, and see if you are making progress, the transition is easier.

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  • Where do the insights for new products come from?

    For me, it is always about how does one anticipate customer pain points and help them by providing technology solutions. My belief is, we bring insights into how technology can help. Customers get insights by articulating their pain points. For instance, the publishing industry is still trying to understand how media is going to transform when it is all digital. You are an expert in storytelling. For us, the focus point is how we bring a technology to transform storytelling. At the end of the day, we are very much a product company.

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  • How do you minimize the gap between the strategy and its implementation?

    Companies that talk of great strategies and don't execute them fail. Companies that only talk about execution in the here and now, without a strategy, also fail. On the question of timing, we were the first. But we did it with a lot of discipline and thinking. We ran a pilot in some countries, and we got feedback. In some ways, the shift was more thoughtful than people give us credit for. People give us credit for bold decisions. But bold decisions come with the adage that a sportsman in the US used: "The more I practice the luckier I got". We put in a lot of hard work.

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  • How do you value the people involved in the business operations?

    I cannot overemphasize it, is the people. Magic happens when you get the right people. Once you have painted the picture, then you get out of the way. Let people do the magic. This is what we did with the Creative Cloud where customers saw, hey there is innovation coming at a quicker pace and began innovating too. So, it is all about painting the vision and then executing it.

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  • How do you treat change element is the business ecosystem?

    Every time you say "preserve the status quo", it is a failing business strategy. The reason we are incredibly successful is we are constantly thinking about how technology can disrupt us. You cannot be in denial of macro trends. You need to have awareness, humility, and understanding that things can change. And, if you don't change, or if you don't lead the change, bad things can happen to you.

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  • How you rate the importance of vision in business growth?

    One, one must articulate a vision of how it will be better value for the customer. We were fundamental to the opinion that moving to the cloud would offer better value for our customers. We could innovate at a faster pace. Instead of a 12- or 18-month product cycle, we could innovate any time a new device would come out, or the product had a compelling offer. We also thought we could attract a whole new generation of people with affordable pricing on the cloud. I would argue that we were very clear about the vision of why we were going to do it.

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  • From installed software to the cloud era, how did you choose the right moment to make the transformation in your business models? Did you get lucky with your timing?

    We like to believe that it was more than luck. We would like to believe it was the clarity of thinking and execution that played a part. There are three things to keep in mind when an organization goes through such a transformation. That includes articulating a vision, adapting to change contrary to the notion of preserving the status quo, and getting the right people.

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  • Do you see a full-length commercial movie shot entirely on a phone camera happening?

    I actually do. TV episodes have already been completely shot on phone cameras. Look at the way publishing has been democratized. Adobe created desktop publishing. But the vision was how to democratize the ability to publish for people who want to express the idea. Today, people are expressing more ideas using images and videos, and not just plain text. Therefore, the next generation of storytelling will happen by definition through crowdsourcing, through mobile phones. We think Photoshop will be part of that journey.

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  • 3D printing is being talked about as the next big disruptor. You think Photoshop will play a part?

    You still need an application to run 3D printing. The fundamental issue is that 3D models are hard for people to create. If you can take a 2D picture and do a 3D model with it, that's magic. We see it being used in the film industry too. The reality is that today you have high-end proprietary systems that are still used to edit films. Gone Girl was done using Adobe Premier Pro. 3D is going to transform the industry. Everybody will be able to make a movie with it.

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  • This is 25 years of airbrushing reality with Photoshop. How long do you think this product of yours will endure?

    Photoshop has not just endured, it has thrived because of the innovations we continue to make. Images are so pervasive today. Technologies and products thrive when you look at it not as a product for a particular task but as an area. When you think about images, and what's happening, it is still the tip of the iceberg. Photoshop has created industries, it has been used in textiles, is used in publishing, now on Web. In retail, (as well as) in other industries, there is a lot of opportunities. Next, there will be 3D printing. As long as you use the right lens, pun unintended, to think about what the opportunity is, it is just massive.

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  • How Data ready we are here in India or in the Asia Pacific region in terms of having made investments to cater to the customer-centricity model?

    What you are seeing in India from sheer numbers and the hundred and millions of people who are digitally savvy as a result of the mobile revolution that has happened in India, the volumes in India are unprecedented. So I think India is actually leading in terms of the expectations of new infrastructure and how it is a mobile-first economy more so than anything else. I think the second thing where India is really pioneered and driven innovation is the cost of those transactions. When you bank with a bank like HDFC, what they have absolutely mastered is this innovation associated with how do you give that service at an incredibly low price. I think as it relates to governments engaging right now with citizens, I think you are going to see another push there as well in terms of what happens with electronic signatures and what happens with the ability to do all of the citizen-facing services that you did by walking in to either a place where you might have got a drivers license or you might have got a ration card, all of that stuff is also going to happen electronically. So I think like all countries what we are finding in digital too is that it needs to be tailored to the right expectations in India. I think in India also the payment methods are different because they typically tend to get paid on delivery. So I think the countries will adapt but that fundamental move towards all of this happening online is true everywhere in the world.

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  • Explain that to me and what that means for the digital playbook as more and more companies try and adapt to this?

    You are familiar with Adobe and what we went through when we went through our own transformation of making sure that instead of selling software in boxes, we were selling software as a service. What we recognised through that entire transformation was that the ability for me to absolutely personalise my offering for you to make sure that you understood what the new features were, what the appropriate pricing was. That was unprecedented when the software was sold in boxes as a sort of mass distribution. So what this really requires is, the CMO is always scared about the brand of the company, they are always scared about how can you emotionally connect with customers, how can you attract customers at the top of the funnel and that’s sort of been the art of marketing your service or your offering to customers. What we believe in this decade is that art will have to be combined with science. Science is where the CIO comes in, which is, is every decision that is being made in a company, is it being made on the basis of fundamental data and how do you combine that art and science in order to deliver the right experience to customers. I think the bar that has been set is, when you are interacting with a financial institution, your expectation is not that, that financial institution engages with you digitally the way another financial institution engages with you, your expectation is that that financial institution engages with you the way you would hail a cab or the way you would order food online. So this digital expectation from consumers has absolutely skyrocketed and this is only going to accelerate that. So the CIO and the CMO as part of the digital transformation mandate that has been frequently driven by the CEO and the CFO become even more important. So that need for data and the need for the brand has never been more important.

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  • What is the digital index telling you about the megatrends that we should watch out for?

    Every company that is global like Adobe has sort of focused on two different issues. The first one has really been about how do we – as soon as the pandemic hit, make sure that we take care of employees and take care of customers. That was the first big shift to make sure that there was the safety of our employees, that was top of mind. Once you finish ensuring that your employees can be safe and can be productive at home, clearly the attention turns towards customers and with shelter in place or lockdown, you recognise that the only way you can actually interact with customers is digital. So, this is going to be this dramatic inflection point as it relates to people recognising that interfacing electronically or digitally first with employees and then using physical where appropriate to augment it is going to be critical. So, every company is really reflecting that after they take care of employees, they are saying how do I get my business back on track and that means engaging digitally with customers. If I don’t have the right website, if I don’t have the right mobile application, if I don’t have analytics about which customers are coming, if I don’t have the ability to personalize that experience for customers, if I don’t have an eCommerce website where I can actually transact business and finish the last mile, you are going to be even more disadvantaged. In the stay at home, in the remote economy that we find ourselves in, the urgency to have all of that digital is certainly top of mind. As you point out in our digital economy index, we are finding out whether it is online groceries, whether it is electronics, whether it is the ability to get other essential goods at home, and I think tongue in cheek, we sort of said that everybody is finding that what is up is that people are finding more flexible ways to work at home and so payjama sales are up but pant sales are down.

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  • You believe that WFH and digital interaction is going to be an irreversible trend and it might change the way the employees and the employer engage. What will this mean then for this new sort of contract, so to speak, this new code between the employer and the employee?

    We are in the intellectual property business and in the intellectual property business, our biggest asset are our employees and our people. There has always been I think in the tech community an acceptance that people need flexible hours, they can work from home and what we have to figure out is, how we create that virtual water-cooler sort of moment when people get these ingenious ideas and innovation is really spurred. In terms of trusting our employees that they are going to be productive at home in terms of being able to give them all of the equipment that they need to be productive, in terms of making sure that we have the right tools for each one of them to be collaborative at home, I think we were already the leaders in that particular space. I think the contract is again going to continue to just be about can you get your objectives done and can you continue to innovate? As long as we do that, we really don’t care whether you are in a physical office or you are virtually connected.

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  • Do you believe WFH is going to be an irrevocable trend as we go out of the COVID-19 crisis and move forward?

    What happened when the pandemic hit globally was unprecedented as you point out and it is actually quite amazing how resilient employees were in terms of working from home. So, I do believe that this is irreversible. I think people have realized that you can be incredibly productive at home. Like all companies, what we first focused on was making sure that our employees were safe, making sure that we were appropriately sensitive to what our customers were going through, and then really focused on how we could make our employees productive. What we found is that through the benefits of collaboration technology, through the benefits of not having as much time commuting, people are actually adapting to this new normal and I don’t think we are going to go back. Clearly on the medical front, until you have testing and therapies and vaccines, this is the new normal and I think like all companies we are really making the most of it.

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  • How do you think about failure?

    You know, there is no such thing as failure. You’re always learning. You gain experience. I have looked back at aspects of my career where somebody might look at it and say, you know, that start-up was not successful, and I look at it and I say, “I learned how to build a team, how to raise money, how to sell a vision, how to create a product.” It was a great stepping stone for me.

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  • Is there a question you ask other executives to get insights into how they manage and lead?

    I ask people to tell me the hardest issue that they have faced and how they worked around it, and how they think about it. I think that in dealing with adversity and dealing with challenges, you learn a lot more about how individuals react. I have a number of friends who run public companies. I tend to ask them about the tough times that they have faced and what they have done. You learn a lot from what others have gone through. You also realize that you’re not alone when you experience some of those challenges yourself.

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  • So leadership can be taught?

    Well, I believe that sharing experiences and enabling people to reflect on what’s important to them and how they would react is certainly a way for individuals to be able to think about what’s important to them and how they hone their leadership style.

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  • What do you think business school should teach more of or less of?

    I think business schools need to focus more on a cross-functional curriculum to help aspiring managers think about things not from the perspective of finance or marketing, or accounting, but cross-functionally. The second thing I would say is leadership and really talking about how you equip people to think and learn and adapt. I think that’s really more reflective of how successful somebody is going to be, as opposed to a mastery of a specific piece of work in one of those functional disciplines.

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  • Why take the extra step of deleting it?

    I think it just feels cleaner. It feels like I’ve dealt with it.

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  • Any particular techniques for managing your time, the crush of e-mail?

    I try to go to sleep every night, wherever I am in the world, with fewer than 10 e-mails in my in-box. I try never to read an e-mail twice, so I delete it when I’m done. One of my philosophies is I respond as soon as I can, and if it’s important enough and I’ve deleted it, it’ll come back. And I say 10 only because sometimes there are attachments that require a little bit more effort, and so you don’t want to be flippant, either. But for ones that are F.Y.I., you know, I just delete them. I have another philosophy, which is unless I am the sole person on the “to” line, I don’t feel the need to respond.

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  • How are quarterly reviews and interactions with young managers helps the business grow?

    You certainly give them your input, you certainly coach and guide them, you channel them into areas that you believe they need to think about. But that’s one way in which I’m trying to change as we grow this next generation of general managers. I want them to feel like the business review is their opportunity to talk about where the business is going well, where the business is not going as well, and what’s keeping them up at night so that I can help them, as opposed to them feeling like they’re under the microscope, and all they have to do is show you they’re on top of the data, which I think is a meaningless exercise.

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  • Anything different about the way you run meetings?

    One of the ways I am trying to change my own management style is in the quarterly business reviews. I’m trying to focus more on getting people who are presenting to discuss their insights, and to lead the discussion of what they want to accomplish, and where the business is working, and where the business is not working, and what they are worried about — as opposed to sharing reams and reams of data and then expecting us to make pronouncements about the right thing to do. Because, frankly, they’re closer to the business. And the more you can get them to feel ownership for the decisions, I think the more successful you are.

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  • What feedback do you get from your direct reports?

    I am actually very comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty, and I believe that allows for more inquiry, which I personally like. I’ve gotten feedback at times, saying that being more declarative in some instances about what I think, is important. One of my fundamental beliefs of management is that you accomplish great things by surfacing ideas that everybody has and cutting off a conversation doesn’t accomplish that. But there’s a balance, because if you let a conversation go on too long, you could miss windows of opportunity.

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  • Do you have favorite interview questions?

    Well, my first question is always, “Tell me what you think this job is all about.” And I think just allowing them to speak about what they want to do, and what they think the job is about, is actually very useful because it sheds light on what they think they want to do in the company. I typically also end an interview by asking them how they can make a difference. And when I’m interviewing somebody who I plan to hire, I spend at least three or four sessions with them because you want them to also get a good sense of what the company is about.

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  • What are you looking for when you hire?

    For me, the biggest predictors of success are raw intelligence and a passion for what you do. And I try to look for people who are going to have a tremendous passion for being here, as opposed to this being just another job. As I’m looking for people at very senior levels, I also look for whether they share the fundamental values of the company. Unless people really internalize and believe in the core values of the company, they’re highly unlikely to be successful.

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  • Talk about how you build a team.

    My big belief in management is that people don’t change. You know, I’m highly unlikely at this age to fundamentally change what I am as a human being, and so my management philosophy also tends to be that if I can compliment people’s strengths by surrounding them with people who can complement their areas of weakness, that’s probably a better recipe for success than trying to say, “O.K., you need to change.” If somebody is really all about creative ideas and driving the vision, then expecting them to be very organized and compulsive is probably not a winning proposition.

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  • How does the concept of seed works at Adobe?

    The person who runs the seed is actually called an “entrepreneur in residence.” The way you budget for seeds is you don’t do the traditional, “O.K., how many engineers do you need and how many product marketing people do you need?” You say, “O.K., here’s a first round of funding, and tell me what your metrics are.” And if you accomplish those metrics, and if we still think we want to go from seed funding to first-round and second-round funding, then we’ll put more money into it.

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  • How are you trying to shift the culture at Adobe?

    One of the things we have tried to do in the last couple of years is introducing this notion of general managers — you equip people with the responsibility to make the decisions that are required to drive their businesses. We’ve said to them, “Go run your business, make the decisions, and make the trade-offs.” Some of them will be hugely successful and some of them will stumble, and I think that’s O.K. Creating a culture where you allow people to take risks and grow their careers, I think, is important. We’ve also created this notion of “seeds,” to bring the venture capital culture into Adobe, to allow people who have a creative idea to run with it, but in the structure of a larger company.

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  • Any other things that you learned from your time at Apple?

    Well, the other thing at Apple was that you really believed you were going to change the world. I think that if you do great work it can have just a tremendous and profound impact on society. I think it’s something that really can be very motivating.

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  • How do you make sure goals are calibrated properly?

    I like to say that if you can connect all the dots between what you see today and where you want to go, then it’s probably not ambitious enough or aspirational enough. On the other hand, if people look at it and say there is no way that’s going to happen, then it’s probably a little too much. So it’s a balance.

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  • What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?

    I really honed a lot of my leadership skills and style at Apple. I worked for Apple for many years, and I had a mentor, Gursharan Sidhu, from whom I learned just a tremendous amount. I think two leadership lessons really stand out for me. He forced me to think about doing things that I did not think were possible. Challenging individuals by setting goals and then letting them use their ingenuity to accomplish them is something that I hope I can pass on as part of my leadership style. If you set a common vision and then get really scary-smart people, they do things that amaze you. The other aspect of being a good manager has always been getting gratification from what others do, because the higher you get in management, frankly, the less you do yourself.

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