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The Phoenix Project Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, George Spafford

A Novel About IT, DevOps, And Helping Your Business Win

May 31, 2024 - 396 words - 2 mins Found a typo? Edit me
software devops

This is a story about an impossible project in which the people around are constantly playing politics, busy fixing critical bugs and wasting constant efforts on quick patches instead of helping the business thrive.

If IT fails, the business fails.

DevOps Principles: Flow, Feedback, and Continual Learning and Experimentation. These guiding concepts promote advancements in responsiveness, dependability, and teamwork.


The book starts with the promotion of Bill as VP of IT, and with that the responsibility of delivering an imposible (Phoenix) project. The CEO warns him that if the project does not deliver in time, then the entire IT department will be outsourced and the current IT employees will be fired.

Bill tries to understand the status quo, and finds out that the people are too busy firefighting constantly and dealing with too many responsibilities (in addition, they are understaffed). Everything is urgent and needs to be done asap. The deadline was already setup from above, and there is no planning or discussions with other departments. TL;DR: Corporate chaos, politics and bloodbath meetings.

However, Bill gets to know one person in the company that helps him improve the status quo, not by telling him what to do but by asking him questions to help find the solution.

For example, the first question: “What are the four types of work that IT does?” which is not answered immediately but during the story:

  1. Business projects: these are the projects that directly affect business goals. They generate revenue and deliver value to customers.
  2. Internal projects: these are regular tasks that keep the system working. Like system upgrades, security patches, etc. It tends to be invisible and can become a bottleneck for IT departments.
  3. Changes: the result of the previous business and internal projects, to know what to change with and within them.
  4. Unplanned work: this is the real productivity killer. This is related to all operational issues resulted from the previous three types of work.

430 pages