Coming Up for Air.

I’m fourteen days into my new role at Adobe. Fourteen days and 84 meetings (I counted). I figure that at this rate I will have met all of Adobe’s more than 10,000 employees sometime in 2014 – which is also the approximate date that I will be hospitalized for acute exhaustion.

I joined Adobe in the middle of a cycle of strategic planning, earnings announcements and board meetings. The pace has been intense, but it’s been a great immersion into the company, its business and culture.  Some quick observations:

Adobe has a very friendly, collaborative, environment. And, this extends to everyone from the management team to the building security guards. The latter, I’m convinced were formerly greeters at Wal-Mart. You can’t enter or leave a building without them giving you a smile, waving and wishing you a “good day”.

But, I think there is a reason for all this friendliness – it’s due to the architectural design of the campus where I work in San Jose. It consists of 3, 16- to 18-story buildings interconnected by elevated walkways.  Sounds simple enough, but, as a new employee it is almost impossible to navigate between buildings without getting hopelessly lost. Walkways in the buildings are at seemingly random angles, elevators are hidden and directional signage is subtle at best.

I’m convinced that either M.C. Escher or a progeny of Sarah Winchester  designed the campus. Yet, it does force collaboration and connectivity. Moving between buildings one day, I met an employee who said: “You must be new here.” I answered that I was and asked how she knew. She replied that I had passed her office 3 times in five minutes. Then she took pity on me and in whispered tones, as if she was sharing the Freemasons’ secret handshake, pointed out some visual cues, like carpet patterns that provide navigational aid.

I just wish there was something similar in the parking garage. I tend to arrive a bit early before my caffeine quotient has taken full effect and rarely form a mental impression of where I’ve parked. This is never a problem in outdoor parking lots. The garage, here, however is a vertical and horizontal maze. To give you an idea of what I’m referring to, here are some of the actual architectural models for the garage. As a result, during my first week, I spent the end of each day walking up the indoor parking ramps searching for my vehicle, clicking my key fob and praying for a return “beep”.

Between the layout of the buildings and the parking garage, I’ve taken to carrying a space blanket and a few Power Bars in my backpack in case I become lost overnight.

The company is seriously into “green“. The San Jose campus receives power from not only fuel cells, but also windmills located between the buildings. Everything is recycled. Everything. They also have something called “spudware” in the cafe. And, just as Adobe takes “recycling” seriously they also support “cycling”  both as a means of commuting (providing a secure underground bike cage, lockers and shower facilities) and for recreation. A number of employees at Adobe’s Orem, Utah facility, for example, just competed this monster of a ride.

Most importantly, this place has wicked cool technology. I knew about much of it – Acrobat, Photoshop, Illustrator – but, there is so much more. Everywhere you go you see this incredible fermentation of innovation and creativity. I’m sure I’ll write about some of it in the future. But, for now, I’m off to figure out what spudware is.

Note: This post is cross-posted from Mike Dillon’s personal blog

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