On letting go

Planning hero, me. Last week, I looked at blog stats, saw that the last post was 12 days ago, then hurriedly rescheduled a post to fill the perceived gap. This week, I realised I had posted three articles in September, and had created a gap for this Tuesday. So now I’m shuffling and changing my plan.

I could say “well, I’m getting old”, and it would fit nicely with today’s topic…

Progress & Complexity

When I joined this industry, Analytics was still mostly about popularity (Page Views), and about purchases. Bringing together A/B testing and analytics was the hot thing at the time. We used “Fusion”, a methodology boiled down into one single PDF per vertical.

Since then, the landscape has evolved a lot, and I have written about that, a lot, too. Everything is bigger, everything is connected. Some things have been rebuilt, but a lot of the details from back then are still relevant.

We have been piling up over the last 15 years, built on top, and, boy, have we grown!

I think that the added complexity reflects just how much more you can do, today, with the tools of our trade. And I guess that is a good thing.

You might be surprised, now, because I usually bang on about how we should keep it simple. But there is no conflict, here. Keeping it simple is a principle that will always help, and that will specifically help getting people on board. Once those people know what they’re doing, powerful and complex tools are necessary. How would you push the limits, otherwise?

In essence: keep it simple, until the moment when you try something crazy, big, new.

If you follow blogs by people working in our space, you can often see them do really funky things, especially with Workspace (which, btw, I think is the biggest step that Adobe Analytics has ever done), and I’m betting there will be crazy cool stuff once Platform has more traction.


I noticed some time ago that when someone asks me a question, I often reverted back to what I did in the very beginning: when trying to help, but not entirely sure, I used to ask a question back. Usually, that led to a discussion and then a solution. And I’m back to doing it.

Noticing that, I thought “uh-oh, I’m losing confidence“, but it is more than that.

I realise, that, more and more, I simply do not know!

There are external factors, like having 4 kids at home, a big change in living conditions bcs we bought our apartment, or a small pandemic that means I haven’t been to an office since March, but those only accelerate or accentuate what is really happening:

This whole thing is getting too big for someone like me who likes to look at things somewhat holistically!

Seriously: I was able to pick up bits of AEM when I moved to Switzerland in 2014. Today, I have not even managed to hop on the Web SDK train!

And it’s not that I don’t want to. I really do! And I will hop on, eventually.

I used to be an early adopter, and now I am waiting for things to stabilise before I look into them in detail.

It all boils down to sheer volume.

There is so much going on, so much change, so much depth and breadth, that I cannot keep up with everything at once. Simple as that.

Almost a year ago, I made a conscious decision to not dive into Platform. I know it is going to be hugely important, of course. I also know that there are a lot of people who will rise to the occasion.

Letting go

Even though I made that choice in late 2019, it took almost a year, plus a global pandemic, to help me understand that it was not a simple one, without consequences. Nor was it a one-off.

During the months at home, I started to do my best to follow advice around being ok, such as “go outside! Step away from the computer!“, or “it is harder now to say no, so try doing it on purpose”

I only really recently figured out that this also applies to blogging, and to me knowing and learning about all the things I work with.

But then I did, and now I know that I have to let go.

I will never be great with Workspace. I will not be able to understand all about Platform. I will not be as familiar with Target as I am with Analytics.

And this is hard for me!

How can I truly understand a part of a huge system, if I look at the part only?

The answer, probably, is delegation. Find people I trust, believe them, and work what they believe into what I do.

Jim Gordon’s crusade around the EDDL is an example where I did just that, and I am eternally grateful, Jim, that you had the passion and the strength to go onto that crusade. Look where it got us!

I think the whole “shoulders of giants” thing also applies when you do not necessarily fully understand what those giants have done, exactly.

Hard, but I’ll be working on it.

Another example: when Launch went live, I was able to very quickly build a bunch of Extensions. It was easy and fun.

These days, people who build Extensions do so much better than I ever could (looking at you, Stewart!), and I’m both jealous and in awe.

I was part of it, briefly, but now it is time to let go. What I know is enough so that I can teach people how to do theirs, and that is good enough.

My next topic will be the Web SDK. I will dig into that, and I will tell you all about it. That’s both a threat and a promise 🙂

4 thoughts on “On letting go

  1. Completely agree Jan.
    We can absolutely remain passionate and committed to our industry but trying to master everything hasn’t been possible for quite some time (for me at least).


  2. Your not old, obsolete, or out grown. You’re at the point where you know you can’t know it all. That’s a good place. From that height you get to look out and find the specific hills you want to climb and fight for.


  3. I’m totally with you, Jan! I wish there were more hours in the day, or more minutes in the hour, but there aren’t so I too have to let go & accept that I can’t learn everything. We have to focus on what we do well, try to do it as well & efficiently as possible and hope that at some point we’re *forced* to do something new (because that’s the only way we’ll find the time).
    It’s easy to feel like a failure, though, for not knowing everything. Thanks for sharing. Keep on keeping on!


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