Your Baby is Ugly: How Experience, Candor, and Empathy Can Save Your Adobe Project

U.G.L.Y. You ain’t got no alibi. Your Adobe baby is ugly, there’s only one way to fix it.

Some Adobe clients are saying they are not seeing an appropriate “time-to-value” of the Adobe Experience Cloud platform. Time-to-value is fluffy corporate jargon that means the client bought into the vision of the software, took on the implementation themselves or with another partner (despite having little to no experience), blew through timelines and budgets, then pointed the finger at the tool they used to build it. They are effectively blaming the hammer for building a leaky boat.

To address the time-to-value concerns, Adobe established an Architecture and Launch Services team to validate the architecture, design, and go-live processes for all net-new Experience Manager, Audience Manager, and multi-solution licenses. In Adobe’s words, Architecture and Launch Services is required “to address the growing intricacies of multi-solution implementations and to ensure our customers receive the appropriate level of help for their business success.” In my words, Adobe has introduced a diplomatic, much-needed way of holding a mirror up to your work to show you how ugly your baby really is.

Saying, “Your baby is ugly” is a way of expressing that your client’s own process, product, or project is horribly flawed. But, it’s never said aloud; it’s normally whispered when the phone is on mute during conference calls and expressed as, “Sounds good!” when the mute button is off. This lack of transparency between a partner and the client only perpetuates and accentuates the slowly rotting fruits of their labors throughout course of the project and makes it increasingly unmanageable. When the mess becomes completely unusable, the Hot Potato of Blame is passed around from party to party and is always left sitting in the same place: in the lap of the platform itself.

Me, circa 1976

Babies aren’t born ugly (well, maybe a few); they are transformed into ugly. I was a cute kid until my seemingly insensitive parents gave me a bowl-cut and dressed me in hand-me-downs that likely belonged to my sisters. It wasn’t until I started liking girls did I realize the dork I had truly become. To my parents, I was still the adorable little boy they birthed. To the girls I had my puppy-love crushes on, the bowl-cut and fanny pack were simply a deal breaker.

Fast forward.

In the past 12 years, I have appeared in over 15 television commercials, but I’ve auditioned and lost out on hundreds more. Casting directors have told me I’m “too short”, “too old”, or “too bald” (the bowl-cut is long gone). They know their business well, know the look and type they need for the part, and won’t just settle on an actor because it’s the sensitive thing to do. They aren’t willing to put their client’s project at risk for the sake of hurting an actor’s feeling. Casting directors have candor and aren’t afraid to use it.

Candor is “the quality of being open and honest in expression.” It is frankness, truthfulness, forthrightness, directness, plain-spokenness, and bluntness. When candor comes from someone without the credibility and experience to give it, it just comes across as asshole-ness. But when it comes from a seasoned, trusted source, the transparency is refreshing. This is why we’re so intrigued by people like Gordon Ramsay, Judge Judy, Simon Cowell, and that bald dude on Shark Tank. They don’t tell you what you want to hear; they tell you what you need to hear to help you excel. They have candor.

Now imagine working with a qualified Adobe partner with the experience and, dare I have the candor to say, the balls to tell you there’s a better way to do it before Adobe’s Architecture and Launch Services is forced to tell you how ugly your baby has become. Wouldn’t honest, informed insight help you succeed more than a firmly bitten tongue? Candor is a dying quality that could save your project.

In the book Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration, Ed Catmull, President of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation dedicates an entire chapter to honesty and candor. He says, “Believe me, you don’t want to be at a company where there is more candor in the hallways than in the rooms where fundamental ideas or matters of policy are being hashed out. The best inoculation against this fate? Seek out people who are willing to level with you, and when you find them, hold them close.”

Seek out a partner with both the experience and candor to help make your project a success and you will ask yourself why your other partners haven’t been more forthright. Catmull continues, “Any successful feedback system is built on empathy, on the idea that we are all in this together, that we understand your pain because we’ve experienced it ourselves.”

We AEM geeks understand the challenges an organization may be facing because we’ve been there too. We didn’t start as Adobe Experience Cloud experts, we became experts through trial, error, and ultimately proven success grounded in Adobe and industry best practices.

Speak up, and help make your client’s ugly baby beautiful again.

 

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