Build resilient systems at scale
May 27–29, 2015 • Santa Clara, CA

(Re)building an engineering culture: DevOps at Target

Ross Clanton (Target), Heather Mickman (Target)
11:50am–12:30pm Thursday, 05/28/2015
Location: Ballroom AB
Average rating: ****.
(4.19, 21 ratings)
Slides:   external link

Prerequisite Knowledge

This talk should resonate with your audience more broadly. Key skills that will aid in understanding are leadership, management and influencing skills


This talk will largely be a reflection on the DevOps journey at Target and the focus on (re)building an engineering culture. In the DevOps community, you hear a lot of talk about whether you should drive DevOps into an organization from the top-down or from the bottom-up. At Target we did a hybrid of both.

It definitely started as a grassroots movement in a few small teams, and gained broader grassroots momentum when we kicked off our first internal DevOps Days in February 2014. This enabled us to start engaging a community, finding out who had passion for this across our IT organization, and providing them a forum to connect, share, and learn about DevOps awesomeness.

We fostered and grew this community by leveraging social media and guerilla marketing to start driving the conversation across our organization, as well as demonstrating the success that teams were having. We then leveraged some of this early energy to engage more leader champions to start building the top-down support for DevOps. Now, having completed four DevOps Days conferences at Target, we will share more details on our approach, results, speakers, and topics.

We did much more than just host DevOps Days. We tapped into the growing community to start testing and learning different approaches. We have lots to share, both in terms of results we’ve achieved and how we’re focusing on changing culture and mindsets. From a technology perspective, we will discuss how we rapidly drove momentum on our automation toolchain across our IT organization. Our vision was to enable and empower all technologists to automate the things they were accountable for. We pursued this vision in many ways, including automation hackathons; establishing an embedding/coaching model for our deep SMEs to help teach; opened labs; developed community-based support; and even brainstormed some creative work models that we will share.

The end result of these various activities is driving full-stack ownership that will ultimately enable the expansion of CI/CD across our enterprise. This is the overarching theme, and next step in our enterprise transformation. It is through this foundation that we are building culture, tooling, and collaborative and flexible work models that will enable our acceleration in 2015. We are leveraging these learnings to shift to more of a full-stack product model for our technology delivery and management. We’re also transforming infrastructure from a model based on technology silos, to an end-to-end infrastructure service model focused on enabling business agility.

These changes haven’t been easy. In fact, we’ve already had a lot of learnings on our journey. We will share some of those key challenges and lessons learned, specifically on talent, culture, and leadership.

Ross Clanton


Ross Clanton is an accomplished leader with over 16 years of IT experience in the retail industry. Ross is a DevOps enthusiast whose mission is to drive LEAN principles and extensive automation across technology service delivery. He has broad experience in IT operations, engineering, security and compliance, enterprise architecture, business intelligence, and data warehousing. Ross lives in Minneapolis with his wife, daughter, and son.

Heather Mickman


Heather Mickman is the leader for the API and Integration team at Target and a DevOps enthusiast. Throughout her career, Heather has continuously embraced hard technology challenges, from consulting with large Fortune 50 companies on supply chain approach, implementing warehouse automation technologies, running large Ops and support organizations, to establishing enterprise security approaches. She has a passion for technology, building high performing teams, driving a culture of innovation, and having fun along the way. Heather lives in Minneapolis with her two sons and two dachshunds.