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Best In Class: Adobe’s Digital Orientation

I recently spoke with Justin Mass (@jmass), Manager of Learning Technology and Design, about
how the People Resources team recently moved to a completely digital orientation for new-hires
to Adobe.

Until this year, a 4 hour new-hire orientation was handled separately in each office. Adobe has
more than 40 office locations and many remote employees making it difficult to create a
consistent orientation experience for our new employees. The digital orientation in Adobe
Connect helped the team address the challenge of a distributed workforce. The majority of
Adobe employees work outside of the San Francisco and San Jose area where Adobe maintains
it’s corporate headquarters. By moving the experience online, the People Resources team was
able to create a streamlined 90 minute orientation that can be delivered consistently each and
every week. Additional content can also be delivered through self-paced on-demand learning.
When fully implemented later this year, digital orientation will save over 60 hours a week or
3000 man hours a year through its digital delivery. Additional benefits include travel savings and
increased consistency in messaging and experience across the world.

Justin walked me through the process and I was impressed with how he’s used technology to
keep the orientation process interactive and engaging. The team is able to use the same persistent
virtual Adobe Connect room each week. They don’t need to re-create the room and upload
content for each meeting. The room has been designed with a large number of layouts to keep the
sessions moving and on-track. Mass tells me that they change layouts every 5 minutes or so to
switch from delivery to discussion.
The second of many layouts features a video welcome from senior executives. The flow of the
meeting is shown on the left.

Although layout changes happen often, there is consistency across every layout. For example, a
video pod is used  on the left-hand side of the screen by the presenters on every layout to provide
better engagement. Justin and his co-presenter Ellie Gates (Head of Talent Development
Programs) stay on-screen for the entire meeting. There is also a persistent chat pod on the right-
hand side of the screen titled ‘Insights’ that participants can use throughout the 90 minute
meeting to share any insights with the rest of the participants. The video and chat pod don’t
move from layout to layout – only the content in the center of the screen changes.

In fact, the team makes great use of the ability to place multiple chat pods on a single layout.
Nearly half of the layouts incorporate multiple chat pods to capture feedback. Justin gave me a
great example. Early in the orientation, Ellie and Justin discuss Adobe’s corporate values
(genuine, exceptional, innovative, involved). They then change the layout to include a separate
chat pod for each value. Participants are encouraged to provide feedback about how they
interpret each of these values. Each chat pod can contain a separate conversation. Justin told me
that one of the advantages of capturing feedback this way is that it doesn’t favor the extrovert
over the introvert. Everyone feels like they can share.
Participants are encouraged to use each of the 4 chat pods in the center of the screen to contribute
content about Adobe values. Additional chat pods on the left and right persist through the entire
meeting.

One of the things that most impressed me about the design of this new digital program is how the
team was able to reduce the dependency on Powerpoint slides and introduce other media
including professional videos, polls, music, PDF documents, web links, and more. In fact, the
lobby layout used at the beginning features an interactive map so that participants can see all of
the different regions from which participants are joining.

The team has really embraced the idea of digital orientation, and in doing so has taken advantage
of the medium. Going digital not only means it’s easier for the new-hires to attend, but it also
means that members of the Adobe leadership team can also easily drop in to welcome our newest
employees.

If you’re looking to transform your new-hire orientation into a digital experience, I’ll have a new
post next week that covers some of the best practices that Justin shared with me around
designing an engaging and interactive orientation program.

Adobe Connect is a web conferencing platform, powering complete solutions for web


meetings, eLearning, and webinars, on any device.

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Alistair Lee

In his role as Sr. Enablement Manager for Adobe Connect, Alistair helps to enable customers to
communicate, collaborate and train more effectively.  During his 20 year tenure at Adobe
Systems, Alistair has held a number of technology related roles that include consulting,
evangelism and marketing. 

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Join the discussion


 By Kelly Torrance - 5:03 PM on February 14, 2014  

Absolutely awesome use of the technology by some very smart people at Adobe. I miss
using Connect…it’s still the best platform for learning, hands-down. Well done!

 By Greg Anderson - 8:47 AM on February 21, 2014  

Valuable commentary for anyone trying to discover how to effectively train


employees/learners online. Adobe Connect is unique in its ability to to present a truly
dynamic and engaging learning environment.

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