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.


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6 responses to “Coming Up for Air.

  1. Uncle Dick

    Sounds like a super place to be employed, how about I get you a cat that would lead you to your car. It could look for mice while your working and if any are found the cat could take them outside.

  2. Damian

    “… directional signage is subtle at best”.
    I laughed.

  3. Hey, Mike! WHERE do you FIND this stuff?! (Moving bodies in the Escher stairs, Sarah Winchester’s (crazy) mansion, the habitrail) LOVE it! Thank you so much for sharing your interesting life with us – sure is different from every-day-some-miles-on-the-Southern-Tier! If it makes you feel any better, I have to write down the letter and number of where I park my car so that I have a chance of finding it again. Good Luck with your a-maze-ing new job! X O

  4. Polish Super Hero

    I love that the directionally challenged Mike Dillon works inside a maze. Try running your strava apt during the day and if you get lost, just upload your current data so you can see where you were, then back track to your original location.

  5. some info on spudware to help you along: BTW, happy belated Talk like a Pirate Day!!

  6. Bill Grubb

    Phil forwarded this to us, and Eileen and I are still laughing our pants off! You are one funny guy and very entertaining! Aside from your humor, we could see ourselves camping out every night because we still hadn’t found our car! Thank God for the showers! Maybe you should pack a suitcase and keep it. In your office! Eileen and Bill

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