Six hours to chop down a tree, I’ll spend four sharpening the axe

A few weeks ago, I read this quote attributed to Abe Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the USA. Apparently, he said, “If you give me six hours to chop down a tree, I’ll spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Interestingly enough, many people I know spend entirely too much time in execution mode. Go, go, go and no stops, no breaks taken to lift their heads up to see the bigger picture. If all you do is execute, the world will change, especially in technology. The sea change might net out that the execution you’re so used to doing no longer applies.

There are a few ways to tackle any given opportunity. One is to do it the fastest way possible; I’m sometimes guilty of this, because I want speed to outcome. Another way is to do it the cheapest, not necessarily the fastest. This is good because it conserves resources in the short run but ultimately, the norm is not to take into account long term impact with this kind of model. Yet another way to tackle opportunity is to take into account real world feedback, macro and micro economic constraints and then move from there. The most amazing marketer I’ve met in a while today was from a company I’d never heard of, and in sessions with the Adobe Client Advisory Board, he blew my socks off. Rather than viewing things as a platform limitation, or a function of potentially less than ideal tools, he viewed the outcome and the macro condition set. Within those guardrails, he was innovating and some of the ideas he shared were novel, interesting and executable with the right prioritization today.

Why am I at the Adobe Summit and contemplating Abe Lincoln’s axe sharpening allegory?

Lifting up my head from the day to day, chatting with other professionals who face similar opportunities, sharing the amazing work my team is doing (and yes, zero companies are doing what my team does – we freaking rock) – it’s helping me sharpen the axe. I have a stack of business cards, I’ve given away dozens and it’s only day one.

Unfortunately, I can’t share the confidential material from the CAB today. But I can share this: Adobe has a vision. They’re executing. I’m impressed. Similarly, when I share with people what my team is doing, what our roadmap looks like and our data, analytics and scale…it’s unlike anything the other firms are doing. That leaves an impression. It makes a mark.

At the end of the day, my team is making an impact. I am proud to be a part of the team I’m on and can’t wait to see what other innovations are in store over the next few days.