It is worth noting that so far, all of these product managers demonstrated exceptional results as individual contributor product managers — no Director or VP titles.
For startups or smaller companies, often all it takes is a strong product team with a strong product manager, but in larger companies, in truth it usually takes more than that. It takes strong product leadership, in the best sense of the word, including providing a compelling product vision and strategy.
One of the absolute hardest assignments in our industry is to try to cause dramatic change in a large and successful company. It’s actually easier in many ways if the company is in serious trouble and they are feeling big pain, because that pain can be used to motivate the change.
But of course great companies want to disrupt themselves before they’re disrupted by others.The difference between Amazon, Netflix, Google, Facebook and the legions of large but slowly dying companies is usually exactly that, product leadership.
The story I’d like to tell you about here is of a product leader, Lea Hickman. In the year 2011, Lea was leading product for Adobe’s Creative Suite.
我想告诉你们的是一个产品领导者，Lea Hickman。在2011年，Lea是Adobe Creative Suite的领导者。
She had helped Adobe to build a very large and successful business for itself – on the order of $2B in annual license revenue – with its desktop–based Creative Suite.
But Lea knew the market was changing, and the company needed to move from the old desktop-centric, annual upgrade model, to a subscription-based model supporting all the devices designers were now using – including tablets and mobile in all their many form factors.
More generally, Lea knew that the upgrade model was pushing the company to take the product in directions that were not good for Adobe customers and not good in the long-term for Adobe either.But change of this magnitude – revenue from Creative Suite was roughly half of Adobe’s overall $4B in annual revenue – is brutally hard.
Realize that every bone and muscle in the corporate body works to protect that revenue, and so a transition of this magnitude means pushing the company far outside it’s comfort zone – finance, legal, marketing, sales, technology – few in the company would be left untouched.
You can start with the typical concerns:
The finance staff was very worried about the revenue consequences of moving from a license model to a subscription model.
The engineering teams were worried about from moving from a two-year release train model to continuous development and deployment.Especially while assuring quality. They were also concerned that responsibility for service availability was now going to be much higher.
There were also big concerns on the sales side, it was expected that this transition would change the way the Creative Suite products were actually sold. Rather than a large reseller channel, Adobe would now have a direct relationship with their customers. While many people at Adobe generally looked forward to this aspect, the sales organization knew that this was very risky in that if things didn’t work out well, the channels would probably not be very forgiving.
And don’t underestimate the emotional changes – to both customers and sales staff – of moving from “owning software” to “renting access”.
With over a million customers of the existing Creative Suite, Lea understood the technology adoption curve, and that there would be a segment of the customer base that would strongly resist a change of this magnitude. Lea understood that it’s not just about whether the new Creative Cloud would be “better,” it would also be different in some meaningful ways, and some people would need more time to digest this change than others.
Realize also that the Creative Suite is, as the name implies, a suite of integration applications – 15 major ones and many smaller utilities. So this meant that not just one product had to transform, but the full suite needed to transform, which dramatically increased the risk and complexity.
It is any wonder that most companies refuse to tackle something of this magnitude?
Lea knew she had a tough job in front of her and her teams. She realized that in order for all of these inter-related pieces to be able to move together in parallel, she needed to very clearly articulate a compelling vision of the new whole as greater than the sum of the parts.
Lea worked with Adobe’s then CTO, Kevin Lynch, to put together some very compelling prototypes showing the power of this new foundation, and used this to rally both executives and product teams.
Lea then began a sustained and exhausting campaign to continuously communicate with leaders and stakeholders across the entire company. To Lea, there was no such thing as over-communication. A continuous stream of prototypes helped keep people excited about what this new future would bring.
Due to the success of the Creative Cloud – Adobe generated more than $1B in recurring revenue faster than anyone else has – Adobe discontinued new releases of the desktop–based Creative Suite to focus all of their innovation on the new foundation, and today more than 6 million creative professionals subscribe to, and depend on the Creative Cloud. Today, thanks in large part to this transition, Adobe has more than tripled the market cap it had before the transition – the company today is worth roughly $50 billion.
由于Creative Cloud的成功——Adobe产生超过1亿美元的经常性收入比其他人更快——Adobe停止了基于桌面的creativesuitesuite的新版本，将他们所有的创新都集中在新的基金会上，今天有超过600万的创意专业人士订阅和依赖Creative Cloud。如今，在很大程度上得益于这一转型，Adobe的市值比转型前增加了两倍多——该公司目前的市值约为500亿美元。
It is easy to see how big companies with lots of revenue at risk would hesitate to make the changes they need to not only survive, but thrive.Lea tackled these concerns and more head on with a clear and compelling vision and strategy, and clear and continuous communication to the many stakeholders.
This is one of the most impressive, nearly super-human, examples I know of a product leader driving massive and meaningful change in a large and established company.
There’s no question in my mind that Adobe would not be where it is today without someone like Lea working tirelessly to push this change through.
Lea has moved from Adobe to leading product for a rapidly rising star in our space, a company and product line many of you know and love, InVision.