How design thinking and lean startup are changing the way Adobe builds new products

By Stephen Ellison, Contributing Writer

Adobe Spark GM Aubrey Cattell

At age 35, Adobe is no longer one of Silicon Valley’s young guns. But the software company, which sells primarily to creative professionals, is working hard to stay nimble. One example: the development of a new storytelling tool for “everyday communicators” — among them students, small businesses, and nonprofits — looking for an alternative to Microsoft Office.

To get the product, now known as Adobe Spark, into the market quickly, general manager Aubrey Cattell built a cross-functional startup team within the walls of the software giant.

“We’re organized a little differently – on my team, I’ve got product folks, designers, engineers, community evangelists, growth hackers, people who figure out how to optimize our funnel top to bottom,” Cattell says. “And that really allows us to iterate at a different pace than the rest of the company.” Part of the success has been applying the lean startup and design thinking methodologies to address customers’ needs, without getting bogged down by process.

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