The legal and government relations team at Adobe really likes games. It’s one of the many surprising things I’ve learned during my first twelve months working here. Our organization is made up of people who are intelligent, collaborative, focused and talented – but who really like games. Admittedly, I am not a “game person”- as my family complains about constantly. So, it’s quite strange for me to see that whenever we have any team building event some type of game appears. It’s without question part of the culture of the organization.
One of the challenges in leading any global organization is helping others around the world to feel part of that culture, as well as ensuring alignment around priorities and values. You can try to achieve this through virtual meetings using phone, email and web conferencing, but time zones are always a barrier. When it’s 9am in San Jose, it’s 9:30pm in Bangalore, and even later in Singapore.
Because of this, every so often it’s important to bring everyone together in person as we did last week for a conference at our headquarters in San Jose. The focus of this meeting was on how we can improve the experience for Adobe customers. Everyone attended a training provided by the Adobe Customer Advocacy team, which illustrated the issues our customers sometimes face when working with Adobe. It may seem a bit unusual that this would be the focus of a conference of legal, compliance and government relations professionals, but it’s something that we spend a great deal of energy on as both a company and organization. (And, if you are an Adobe customer who has suggestions – my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.)
In keeping with this theme, we held sessions on how we can further simplify our agreements, processes and policies to make life easier for our customers. Additionally, we had a training on contract negotiation skills (taught in the format of a game show!), a panel on working across borders, and briefings on privacy, government relations, and litigation, among many others.
One part of the conference that received great feedback was a roundtable with the general counsels from Twitter, Dropbox and Agilent. It’s always fascinating to see the commonalities in roles and organizations despite the business diversity between companies. The company logo may be different, but the challenges of running an in-house legal and compliance function are very much the same. (Marie, Ramsey and Alex – again, my thanks for a great discussion.)
It difficult to keep up with the torrent of innovation coming from Adobe these days – especially when you work 8,000 miles from headquarters. So it was useful at the conference for everyone to listen to product and business overviews provided by the leaders of our Digital Marketing and Digital Media businesses. The Digital Media team also gave us a sneak preview of a few soon to be released offerings that represent a very different type of innovation coming from Adobe. (I would love to tell you more about them, but our corporate PR team has put a muzzle on me. Needless to say, they are very cool and will be coming your way shortly.) And, our CFO, Mark Garrett gave everyone an engaging hour of Q&A and his thoughts on Adobe’s financial performance.
But the most valuable part of the conference was the networking with peers. (“Networking” also includes watching your colleagues step on stage and sing an impromptu song when they are late for a meeting. In case you’re wondering, I believe it was a very old hit from the Spice Girls.) It was the opportunity for new team members from Seoul, Paris and Boston to meet their counterparts from California, or for a colleague from Tokyo to share a drink with someone from Munich that she has worked with for years (virtually), but never met in person. For everyone it was the chance to get to mix with others over a meal or an evening of bowling. (In the interest of full disclosure: Of the many skills and capabilities possessed by our organization, bowling is not one of them.)
And, lest you think that attorneys are not a competitive bunch, the top photograph above is from the winner of our roshambo (“rock, paper, scissors,”) contest.
Games, go figure.