Skip to content

April 2, 2019

Build a Bigger Team – Nike

By IT Revolution
nike devops enterprise summit 2018 las vegas

The following is an excerpt from a presentation by Anne Bradley, Chief Privacy Officer and Global Counsel for Nike Direct, and Courtney Kissler, Vice President, Nike Digital Platform Engineering, titled “Build a Bigger Team.”

You can watch the video of the presentation, which was originally delivered at the 2018 DevOps Enterprise Summit in Las Vegas.


Courtney Kissler

At Nike, we win as a team, so, today we’re going to share about a collaboration between our two teams that have helped us to overcome prioritization paralysis, kill legacy systems and leverage compliance for competitive advantage.

First of all, I’m Courtney Kissler. My teams are accountable for building the platforms that power our Nike consumer experiences, which includes our core commerce, our technology, our customization platform, and our consumer data platform and personalization.

Anne Bradley

I’m Anne Bradley, Chief Privacy Officer at Nike and my teams are responsible for ensuring that we show consumers love and respect and that we do the right thing with their data.

Courtney Kissler

I’m going to share a little bit about my journey.

I had the opportunity to be part of the very first DevOps Enterprise Summit in 2014, and at the time I was working at Nordstrom. We had made a shift in our thinking away from optimizing for costs towards optimizing for speed. The story I shared then was how we were leveraging value stream mapping and DevOps techniques and really transforming the organization.

It was a very unique journey. I had started as an engineer and I’d moved through operations into delivery ending in a pretty senior leadership role at Nordstrom.

Then I decided to take an opportunity at Starbucks and it was different because I came in at an executive leadership role, where I was able to come in and kind of listen, observe. I was also able to leverage some of the techniques that I’d learned at Nordstrom to focus on speed to value how we were delivering our global PLS solution for Starbucks.

Now, today, I am thrilled to be part of the Nike team. We are super focused on our consumer direct strategy, which is how we connect in a meaningful way with our consumers one-to-one. This is a super exciting challenge, and also part of why we’re here and we are driving the growth for Nike.

Anne Bradley

For my background, I graduated with a degree in computer science and left college to work at a B2B software company that made software for the newspaper industry, before eventually going to law school. I really wanted to change the world and I still do.

After law school, I found my way to Hulu. Now, I was working for The Man, and The Man believed in the ad-supported Internet. As a lawyer, I was the first IP technology and privacy lawyer at Hulu.

I spent a lot of time defending the ad-supported internet. I loved the job, but I did not love defending the ad-supported Internet and all of the tracking that comes along with that.

When the opportunity came up to go to Nike where we’re trying to make people better, inspired, and active, instead of sitting and binge-watching television, that was super compelling for me. It was a wonderful choice and I have loved it every day. Even the hardest days we’ve had together.

Courtney Kissler

So, what are our crazy dreams? I joined Nike to be part of a world-class organization working at a scale I had never experienced in my entire career. One of the things that have been a crazy dream for my entire time in technology has been to kill a legacy system. I think we all know they just drag us down, but it’s always, “Not this year, maybe next year.”

Anne Bradley

I joined Nike to work for a company that inspires consumer love and to help Nike show that love back to our consumers by respecting them and their data. My crazy dream: figure out what data we actually need and delete the rest.

Courtney Kissler

Today we’re going to share a story about how we brought these dreams to life. Before we go there though, I’m going to share one of my worst nightmares.

I began in at startup in the security industry, and then in my very first role at Nordstrom was as a security engineer. I knew how it felt to be the one who needed to be talking about compliance and security mandates.

I also knew how it felt to be on the receiving end of a mandate where the date had been picked on my behalf. It had already been committed to the board of directors, and they stated, “You just need to get it done.”

Typically, that showed up as a compliance checklist and we all know where that story goes. It’s not truly about protecting the consumer.

We decided that we were going to approach that very differently and use our dreams to take us up a different way.

Rather than having a legal mandate come our way, we collaborated and came up with the right thing to do.

We engaged our teams, then pitched back to the board and committed. We took the approach of leveraging our board as something that we could use in day-to-day conversations.

I would bring out that board commitment anytime somebody was trying to derail the prioritization of the activities that we had committed to. Sometimes, we would have armies of stakeholders wanting us to pivot and work on different priorities, whether it’d be a shiny object or something revenue driving. If I couldn’t keep the priority with just the board commitment, I would call Anne in for reinforcements. Sometimes I could just mention Anne’s name and everybody be like, “Okay, okay, we got it.” Other times I’d pick up the phone and I would call Anne directly, and she would do some math.

Anne Bradley

Yes, lawyers can do math. 4% is the fine under the general data protection regulation in Europe— 4% of global annual revenue. That is a big number for every company.

For Nike, with $34.3 billion in revenue, that gets you to a really big number — $1.374 billion, and that number gets attention.

You might be thinking, “That’s just an abstract number. That’s just the maximum fine you could ever get. What if we just didn’t do data deletion? What if we just didn’t enable export?” Let’s talk about the risk there.

What happens if we just don’t enable deletion?

I’d put that at an 80% chance we get investigated. 1.09 billion, and then if we get investigated, at 80% odds, what are the chances we get caught? It’s a 100% chance we’re going to get caught. But you may be like, “Anne, sometimes they don’t fine you the maximum amount.” All right, let’s say 50/50 we get the maximum amount. $550 million is the present negative value of not doing data deletion for Nike.

I will put that up against any $10 million revenue driver or $40 million shiny objects that you put in front of me. And guess what? I usually win and we get it done. Negative ROI is real. I explain this a hundred times a year. From every Scrum master to our CIO. I explain this math when they tried to deprioritize this critical work so that we can participate fully in the same prioritization planning as everyone else. I know engineers understand negative numbers.

Courtney and I have been working together and one concept we use in order to help our teams collaborate is MVC.

Courtney Kissler

MVC means ‘minimum viable compliance.’ And so what our teams do is work together and come up with what is that minimum viable compliance and then how do we commit to that?

Here’s what we did. Last year, we mapped all of Nike’s consumer data. We built capabilities to control access and do deletion at scale. We deleted a half a petabyte of data, that if we hadn’t done that activity, we would have ended up needing to protect it, so that was a massive win.

Going back to my crazy dream, we deprecated two massive legacy systems. And personally, I had not experienced this in my career. This paved the way for our consumer direct offense, which is already seeing a ton of return.

You know why I hate legacy systems, but it turns out so does Anne.

Anne, why don’t you tell them why you hate legacy systems?

Anne Bradley

Well, they suck. They hold us back. Consumer expectations are racing forward, and delivering the experiences of the future is impossible on the geriatric stack. We’re not doing it. It’s so difficult.

If any of you have ever had to negotiate with your lawyer about what kind of onscreen disclaimer you need to build to explain why you can’t do something the right way, because of the legacy stack, you feel my pain. When you feel it enough, you learn its name. Our pain was called CAM and MSP, and I have PTSD when I hear those names.

Courtney Kissler

CAM was our classic account management system. It was essentially the original consumer data store. MSP was our multi-sport platform.

CAM was the number one routine issue whenever we had a high impacting event. MSP was a platform that supported products that were not even in the market anymore, but it was this anchor in our environment. They were both severely keeping us from meeting our growth goals.

What did we do? We had an Irish wake, and our teams were encouraged to write poems, to say goodbye to CAM and MSP. It was super fun to see the creativity because I think one thing that Anne and I try to do with our teams is to have fun. It doesn’t have to be boring work. We should enjoy it. I’m going to read this:

As it sits on bed of death

For CAM, we have come here to mourn

For its journey sojourn

What’s next for us?

Some people’s dream is to go to Disney World. Some people’s dream is to get their personal best in the Berlin marathon. My crazy dream is a multi-region strategy.

Let me say why it’s my crazy dream— we are consumer-obsessed and we are global, so it’s super important for us to have a strategy that enables our geographies to connect in a meaningful way with their local consumer. The way we do that is through the multi-region strategy.

We wouldn’t do it just to do it, our real driver is to be relevant in that one-to-one connection with our consumer and to empower our geographies to manage that.

Anne Bradley

How does this match up with my dream? You may have read in the news that there are nations all over the planet passing data localization laws, which require us to hold consumer data in their territory.

Many of my peers, much to my disappointment and somewhat revulsion, are building multimillion-dollar data centers where they’re just streaming dead copies of data into them with no consumer benefit.

The thing that makes me wake up in the morning is the idea that we could be both compliant and useful and the multi-region strategy is a huge deal to me. It’s not the theater of compliance. It is real. We are going to move the data to where the consumers are. We will check that compliance box, but at the same time, we will deliver performance experiences for consumers that make them love Nike even more.

As we look to the future, that’s what Courtney and I are going to keep doing it. We’ll just keep racking up the trophies, the nerd trophies, but they are trophies nonetheless.

Courtney Kissler

One discovery that we’ve made throughout this journey is we’re truly building a bigger team.

We don’t focus on our organizational structure or any boundaries.

We get out of our lane.

We lead by example and we really partner to deliver the best of Nike to our consumers, and doing so we win as a team.

- About The Authors
Avatar photo

IT Revolution

Trusted by technology leaders worldwide. Since publishing The Phoenix Project in 2013, and launching DevOps Enterprise Summit in 2014, we’ve been assembling guidance from industry experts and top practitioners.

Follow IT on Social Media

No comments found

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.



Jump to Section

    More Like This

    What to Expect at DevOps Enterprise Summit Virtual – US 2022
    By Gene Kim

    I loved the DevOps Enterprise Summit Las Vegas conference! Holy cow. We held our…

    Map Camp: Weird Mapping – How to Create a Revolution
    By David Anderson

    A version of this post was originally published at TheServerlessEdge.com. Dave Anderson, author of…

    Serverless Myths
    By David Anderson , Michael O’Reilly , Mark McCann

    The term “serverless myths” could also be “modern cloud myths.” The myths highlighted here…

    What is the Modern Cloud/Serverless?
    By David Anderson , Michael O’Reilly , Mark McCann

    What is the Modern Cloud? What is Serverless? This post, adapted from The Value…