Posts in Category "General"

Strategy Through Games

    Note: In a previous blog, I mentioned that we were reading Luke Hohmann’s Innovation Games. We decided that our best learning would be through performing some of the games in this book, rather than discussing the content. My blog caught the eye of folks here at Adobe who were already working with Luke. The rest is history, as they say. Here is an excerpt of the article I recently wrote for the Adobe Program Managers’ Newsletter.

Games and play are fast becoming the techniques — not “du jour” but “de rigueur” — for gaining insight into customer requirements and innovating next generation products and services. There is a conference on games, a National Institute for Play, and TED Talks on play and games. Right here in Silicon Valley, both design innovation consultancy IDEO and the Institute for Design at Stanford, tout play methodology for achieving astounding designs for next generation customers and end-users.

After reading Luke Hohmann’s Innovation Games for our Globalization Book Club, we set about finding a way to “put into play” our learnings from the book. Much to our delight, Luke was already working with some product teams at Adobe. What if Luke could help us drive the creation of our 2012 localization roadmap and three-year strategy?

Along with members of our team, we invited internal stakeholders closest to the international customer. They represented CSO, ecommerce, product marketing, field marketing, developer relations and CHL, and regions such as APAC, EMEA, and LATAM. The event took place during two full days at the end of August.

Many program managers from other business units volunteered their time as official game observers, taking copious notes on the behaviors, verbal nuances, and interactions of the game participants. These observations, along with photos and videos, would serve as support material once we started to analyze the ideas resulting from each game.

Stories from the field, in the form of Show and Tell, started us off on Day One. While often poignant or funny, we could experience first hand the hoops international customers sometimes have to jump through when using our products. With the understanding of some typical pain points, participants were assigned different customer profiles and instructed to create an ideal Product Box to sell to the audience. The day was topped off with Prune the Product Tree in which the roots and trunk represent ideas that form the foundation of a strategy, and each branch represents an area of development to which the “apple” ideas are grown or pruned.

By the end of day one, several themes were beginning to emerge: customer personalization; end-to-end user experience; user-defined language settings; machine translation; community translation; and localization “in the cloud”. The next day would require fleshing out the themes into concrete project ideas.

Day Two started off with recapping the brainstorm of ideas of the day before. Now it was time to dive into the details and create project charters from the apples that remained on the trees. The most strategic charters competed in the Priority Tournament — a head-to-head, pair-wise, single-bracket elimination tournament to choose the top three projects. The Cloud-based Globalization idea easily slid into home plate. Next, the charters that would become part of the next year’s roadmap went toe-to-toe in a forced-ranking online Buy a Product auction.

With the most important and strategic projects in hand, we proceeded to analyze them in more depth using two side-by-side games: Spider Web and Sail Boat. In the latter, each team creates “anchors” – those issues that can weigh down a project. “Sails” could be added that can propel the boat forward. These might be opportunities, advocates or events that enable a project through rough waters and counteract the anchors. In the former, the network of people, projects and systems that are either impacted by the project or can themselves impact the success or failure of it, are drawn and linked like a web.

The flow of games, from expressing pain points, to sketching out general themes, to fleshing out specific ideas and charters, resulted in a clear idea of what our short and long-term roadmap will look like. The final themes resulting from the event were many. Here are a few highlights:

  • Community Translation & Customer Engagement – investing more resources on engaging with our user community to bring feedback into improving our products and expanding language availability.
  • End-to-end experience
  • Translation Technology – Making use of the “cloud” to deliver our services

Should you consider using Innovation Games or similar methodology? First and foremost, we discovered how important it is to include stakeholders in our strategic planning process. During the event, participants built better relationships with each other and communication channels opened up. We gained valuable insight into how an international customer interacts with our products — from the web to software purchase/download to documentation. Using games was a fun way of extracting serious ideas and it allowed people to be more creative and free in their thinking; they were less fearful of peer pressure in vocalizing their ideas.

From these charters and the other materials produced, we expect that we will architect a one-year roadmap and three-year strategic plan that will have, at its core, the ideas and inspirations of our international customers and internal stakeholders.

Women in Localization: Crowdsourcing

On April 7, I had the privilege of being a panelist on the Women in Localization Crowdsourcing event at Acclaro. Hosted by COMSYS‘s Linda Roslund and André Pellet, the evening consisted of a wine and cheese meet-and-greet, followed by our panel presentations, a Q & A session, and networking over coffee, and topped off with exotic chocolates.

Our hosts created an interesting and unique agenda for discussion. My localization colleague, Regina Bustamante, from Guidewire, and I, were tasked with selling our community translation approach to a room full of CEO’s and/or CIO’s. How delightful to see a room full of thirty-plus women industry leaders (even if only pretend)!

Adobe’s approach is to build strong ties with its communities: strong engagement; high commitment; community empowerment. Many and varied communities already exist: Adobe User Groups, Adobe Learning Communities, Adobe Forums, Adobe Community Professionals, and Adobe Prerelease programs, to name just a few. We know our customers use our products to produce, create, design and develop content in one or multiple languages. They continually contribute to the enhancement and quality improvement of our products, whether that be through patch submissions, bug filings, feedback at Beta, comments on Help docs, or translations. Our job is to make the process easy, as well as the programs supportive and responsive.

If your company does not have a community translation program, it’s not so hard to get started! Begin the conversation with your communities; they may already have been discussing such an initiative. Listen to what their needs and requirements are. More times than not, they are the ones to launch such programs because they need content and products in languages that your company may not be able to support at this time.

What do you already have in place for such a program and where might you need to invest?

  • Staff: Roles are constantly changing. Leverage your team’s skills and ask that everyone spend some percentage of time on community engagement. Everyone benefits: your employees learn to understand customer requirements, and your community knows you listen. Your communities may wish to act as moderators, or you might have to hire for those roles.
  • Infrastructure: Determine if you can adapt or extend your current globalization content management platform and other translation technology tools to the community. You may need to purchase, lease or build additional pieces.
  • Quality controls: Ask, or even expect, the community to “police” themselves if the community is big enough or has strong leadership. Otherwise, utilize your current Language Service Providers in this new role.
  • Contributions: All you need is a passionate community! Don’t forget about recognition and rewards. Community love your products, but they also need to know that you value and appreciate the extra time and efforts they donate.

One excellent example of a successful and growing community translation project is Adobe TV. Adobe has partnered with dotSub to extend the reach of Adobe TV content by enabling volunteer translators worldwide to translate videos into any language. At last viewing, there were 32 languages available, 246 published translations with 136 in progress, and 427 translators with another 101 being registered and qualified.

In the near future, I’ll showcase some other community translation projects.

Globalization NA Book Club

Adobe, like most other employers, encourages its employees to continually upgrade their skills, and offers interesting opportunities for us to learn, innovate, and change. What happens when employees become self-motivated to seek out interesting ways to connect with, learn from and share ideas with each other? They form a book club!

There are several book clubs here at Adobe. One is managed by the Women Unlimited group; others are attached to sites. I belong to the Globalization (North America) book club which started in January 2010 when a few of us attended a Localization Conference, where we heard a number of speakers mention the same books in their talks. We thought about what learnings we might need to do as we moved forward into new ways of doing business with social media, offshoring/nearshoring, and innovation. I’ll mention a couple of the books we have been reading and some of the reasons for choosing each book.

The first book we chose was Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.
As with other industries in the U.S. and Europe, IT is fast moving to automation and offshoring. Author Pink challenges us to reinvent ourselves, rethink the current roles we play, and plan for the world of work. Creativity, design and innovation will be the new jobs. You can find Daniel Pink on twitter, TED, or his own website. Changes I’ve made as a result: I’m offshoring the majority of my execution-type tasks and am working on strategizing the long-term roadmap for globalization features of the products I support.

Social media and networking are ubiquitous. Everyone is jumping on the band wagon and blogging, tweeting, and facebooking! How do these tools affect our business, and how do we leverage these new media to benefit our branding and our communication with our communities? How do we connect and engage with our customers and help them solve problems? One way is through social media, which was the topic of our second read: 33 Million People in the Room by Juliette Powell. Changes I’ve made: this blog, contributions to the Adobe Globalization blog, tweeting, and connecting with worldwide developer communities on Facebook(c).

Various quality initiative promoters here at Adobe remind us that customer satisfaction is passé, and the new metric for quality is customer referral. How likely is your customer to stay loyal to your products and brand, and in turn, refer other customers to you? Sales trainer Jeffrey Gitomer engages us with his stories, and provides techniques and checklists for changing the way we measure our success in Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. As with the other authors, his social media contacts are found on his website. I did not read this book because I was taking a reading-intensive Cultural Anthropology class at the time. I hope to get back to it later.

This brings us to our fourth and current read: Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play by Luke Hohmann. The idea for this book came after several of us in Globalization attended a seminar on Achieving Extraordinary Outcomes: Models for Innovative Thinking, hosted locally by The Institute for Management Studies, featuring UCLA Adjunct Professor, Dr. Iris Firstenberg. In our kickoff discussion, I mentioned I had run across Dr. Stuart Brown‘s book Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. As a precursor to our reading, we watched Brown’s TED Talk and another Brown, Tim, who espouses a similar theme on TED.

I’ll keep you posted on how I implement this last book on play in my work. Let me know if you have other interesting books or articles we might consider for the next read. Happy reading!

Please note that we are not linked to any author, publisher or bookseller, nor do we derive any benefit whatsoever from mentioning any author or unintentionally promoting the sale of any book by any specific reseller. All links and information are provided for convenience to the reader.

Adobe Hispano 2010

I am continually amazed and inspired by the managers of the Spanish-speaking Adobe Users Groups (across Latin America and Europe). Their untiring efforts produce glossy online magazines, translation projects, eSeminars, online and live conferences.

Adobe Hispano is back! Version 2010 runs from 13-16 September, and features 20 speakers, representing 11 countries, over 4 days. They will showcase their tips, tricks and demos on Adobe products and technologies, entirely in Spanish. If you would like to participate, register here.

¡Que se animen!

Localization Requirements for the Flash Platform

In localization, we are often wondering how developers, in real life, use the Platform tools to build and deploy multilingual applications. We wonder if developers have a good enough command of English to use Flash Builder or Flash Pro in English? Or do they prefer to use localized versions? Do they prefer to have tutorials in their language or the product itself? What is important for them to get their work done? What about internationalization features? Is there anything preventing them from creating apps and content in languages other than English? What can we improve?

To that end, the Flex team is announcing a survey on their blog. Or if you prefer, go directly to the short survey itself. Thanks for your feedback!

Hello world!

Hello World! ¡Hola Mundo! Hallo Welt! There is probably a web page somewhere that lists all the ways to say thank you, welcome, hello world in 256 common and obscure languages.
I belong to Adobe’s Globalization group. I plan to share my experiences localizing the Flash Platform products and working with Adobe users and community globally. Nice to meet you! Mucho gusto.