"The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win" is a fiction book in which a manager deals with a challenging IT/Ops/DevOps situation using lean and kanban methods.  It has been described as a "modern day version of The Goal".

Have you read this book?   Do you love it? Hate it? Do you think it is realistic?

Let's talk about The Phoenix Project!

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The Kindle version of this book is FREE for the next 48 hours (from April 1, 2013) on Amazon.


I read The Phoenix Project.  I loved it.  It is a really great read.

One thing that bugged me was that it seemed like they would get swinging with a new process improvement and then immediately jump into the next.  I felt exhausted just reading it.  We are talking about major changes and they just kept rolling!  OTOH, I didn't pay a lot of attention to the date headings so maybe there were major time gaps that I didn't notice.

It also had a lot of connection to the "factory floor", to the point that they would literally visit the shop floor with the physical inventory regularly to make their major breakthroughs.  This sort of flies in the face of the concept that IT work (dev and ops) is especially challenging because you can't see the inventory.  But...maybe manufacturing can still be a good source of learning...?

-Janice Linden-Reed

Great review, Janice!

I agree that there is a lot to take in with this book.  It probably wasn't intended to be read in one sitting.

I think that factory floor analogy was for the main character to eventually draw the parallel between the invisible nature of knowledge work in contrast to the easily observable physical product inventory, to underscore the importance of using big visible tools such as a Kanban board in order to see bottlenecks and waste.  I've seen Gene Kim presenting and he explicitly states that Goldratt's book "The Goal" was a huge influence for him, and that Gene really wanted to leverage some of the same structures and literary devices to teach new applications of lean principles to knowledge workers, in Information Technology, for example.

I have read The Phoenix Project (TPP) and I think it is probably the most important book that a Lean or Agile practitioner could read.

When I was working with a now defunct agile consulting firm, immediately upon completing the instruction for an Agile Bootcamp class, the Agile Coaches would recommend this reading to each class participant. We also started an Executive Reading Club to help upper level management understand basic lean principles so that they could support the people creating their internal systems software.  The value of the analogies that can be drawn from the book, to just about every company in the world now, simply cannot be understated.

As the agile coaches spend more time with the teams and conduct ad hoc coaching, or 1:1 coaching with team members or program level development professionals, conversations would reference part of the story in TPP.  So, it became a sort of common language upon which we would draw, to illustrate a point and uncover new learnings.

There is a free abridged version of the book in PDF form online, but I recommend buying a paper copy of the latest, full version and taking notes inside the margins, highlighting particularly useful passages, and dog-earing the corners most significant to you.  Then, hold Lean Coffee style meetings with your development people to discuss individual themes you find or questions and challenges as they arise for you.

Incidentally, if you ever have the opportunity to hear Gene Kim speak, you will find that he is one of the most approachable, kind human beings in this world and I've seen him make a present of his book to everyone at the venue who came to see him presenting.

I recommend this book also for its Re-Read value.  There are agile coaches who have completely memorized the characters, scenes and famous remarks.  Get that familiar with it, and you'll become a very strong agile advocate in your organization.  People tend to struggle with abstract constructs such as agile principles and values, but they really "get it" with a concrete story with characters you find in any work site.  The realism in this novel is uncanny.  I love it!   Must read.

Please post if you have a different point of view.




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