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The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  32,900 ratings  ·  2,935 reviews
Bill is an IT manager at Parts Unlimited. It's Tuesday morning and on his drive into the office, Bill gets a call from the CEO.

The company's new IT initiative, code named Phoenix Project, is critical to the future of Parts Unlimited, but the project is massively over budget and very late. The CEO wants Bill to report directly to him and fix the mess in ninety days or else
Hardcover, 345 pages
Published January 10th 2013 by IT Revolution Press
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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 ·  32,900 ratings  ·  2,935 reviews

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Dan Schwent
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017, 2017-books
Bill Palmer gets thrust into the CIO position at Parts Unlimited and has 90 days to make chicken salad out of chicken shit or the entire IT department gets outsourced. Does Bill have what it takes?

Confession Time: I've worked in IT for the past fifteen years. When the CTO of the company I work for strongly recommended all IT personnel read this, I bit the bullet.

Remember those after school specials that were some kind of lesson with a flimsy story wrapped around it? That's pretty much what this
Pamela (slytherpuff)
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Pamela (slytherpuff) by: Iris Culpepper
Shelves: business, own, geekery
See more of my reviews at Bettering Me Up.

I know what you're thinking.

Wow. A fictionalized account of ITIL and Agile methodologies. That sounds so...exciting.

But it is!

Imagine my surprise when I was completely sucked into Bill's world.

IT Operations isn't always a fun place to work: servers crash; applications freeze; vulnerabilities are everywhere; and customers--both internal and external--scream for support.

So how to you manage all of the Work in Progress (WIP), emergencies, and planned work?
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
to be honest, I'm a bit embarrassed how much i enjoyed this book! It's basically a business/IT management book thinly disguised as a novel, but i must say it's very well done. It's such niche subject matter that i'm not sure anyone outside of an IT Ops role would appreciate it, but i genuinely learned a lot about how IT needs to integrate within business goals to actually achieve anything, that it doesn't exist in a vacuum, and if it does, then something is seriously out of wack. It preaches goo ...more
Jan 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Imagine an Ayn Rand novel where John Galt gives stilted lectures about ITIL and lean manufacturing instead of objectivism.

Update: It's not a great book, but if you're working in a dysfunctional IT environment and never manage to make it through any of the traditional business/tech books that could help you this would be a great place to start. Just promise you you won't stop here either. Another update: bumped up to three stars, I've read some two star stuff lately and this isn't that.
Tim O'Hearn
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is the most cliché book I have ever read. The Phoenix Project uses a contrived narrative to deliver IT best practices like a mother would use applesauce to hide peas while spoon-feeding a toddler. The state of technology/management books might have been different five years ago, but I found the over-the-top nature insulting to the intelligence of the intended demographic. Yes, storylines help reinforce points, but the best books I encounter nowadays contain real examples sans the dramatics ...more
Apr 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
The copywriter gave up on p150, and so should you. Things start to go downhill when "illusive" replaces "ellusive", and the grammatical eccentricities snowball from there.

But wait, you ask ... if I stop now, how will I learn whether Bill masters the Three Laws? Will he develop a Mutually Supportive Working Relationship with the Information Security Officer? Will the Enigmatic guru, Erik, request an olive in his martini? Why Does This Book Make Me Want To Capitalize Everything? And however is Bil
Bjoern Rochel
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: eng-mgmt, 2015
This is the unicorn we'll be all hunting for the next 5+ years. De Marco's The Deadline finally found his spiritual successor.

Don't take this book too literally, like a prescription of rules to follow. The change that they're able to achieve in the book in the given timeframe is, well, quite unrealistic. Most companies don't face extinction and are not forced to reevaluate the way value is delivered. And if they do, changing the whole value stream and culture of a company is probably something
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
the prose was horrible - several very disconcerting shifts in tense were the least of it. and what did it teach me? that if I'm not in upper management nothing I do matters and I can't fix any of the problems plaguing my work. but if upper management just reads this book we will all go to a happy place and no one will balk except the moustache twirling villains who will either be fired or be reborn as if from a cocoon into their true form ...more
Sergey Shishkin
May 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Calling this a DevOps book is an understatement. The key to the company's success in the book wasn't automation or continuous delivery. What made the success transferable from the manufacturing plant floor to knowledge work was subordinating success criteria to top business measurements and rigorous application of the Theory of Constraints to achieve it. Of course, automation and continuous delivery are necessary intermediate steps for most traditional IT organizations on that journey.

The whole
This is the first book I've read cover-to-cover in an extremely long time. And what follows in this review are less my final impressions and more the way the book hit me as I dove into it. I still believe my criticisms are valid, but they have less impact on my enjoyment and my ability to absorb the interstitial lessons than I had expected. You are so forewarned.

As I'm reading the first few chapters, this book reminds me of my attitude towards the Agile Manifesto these days - "nobody understand
Barbara Notte
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The very best book about this topic. I learned lot from this book — THANKS to authors.
Sinisa Mikasinovic
Now this was a real treat for an IT guy! Finally I felt how the world sees us.

On a superficial, "Hey, IT guy!", everyday level.
On a deep, "Only IT guys know" level.
On a management, "What do you do, and do we even need you?" level.
On a spousal, "Are you still in the office?!" level.

I guess it's easier to see when things are happening to someone else.

Beware, for this will be just an average novel for non-IT people. Perhaps even less-than-average, as there's no standard plot you may expect.

But IT g
جادی میرمیرانی
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
If looking for a "novel", this book will not get anything more than a 2 star from me. Very straight forward and simple story telling. But If you are in IT, this is an 5 star!

If you are a professional IT operation guy, this book is like reading a diary of your own and will guide you the way. If you are a newcomer to IT this shows you the underlying principals of some ITIL operational concepts.

Highly recommended if you are in IT.
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: technology
This book garnered lots of attention, which I mostly think because the subject matter is dry and there aren't many books on the overall topic. The contrived company and scenarios in this book are far to0 simple, I didn't like the delivery mechanism for covering the tenets of the DevOps approach. I wouldn't work in these conditions, and neither should you. Go find a place that appreciates you and the important work of IT if you find yourself relating to0 closely to these shallow characters.

Some o
Jun 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-by-me
This is a novel about a company in crisis because IT and software development form a bottleneck for every aspect of the business. The rest of the business has blinders on, and doesn't even really understand their dependencies on IT and software. Sound familiar?

The CEO brings in a potential new board member who enlightens the VP of IT in "lean" methodologies for IT.

For those of us devoted to agile methodologies in software, there is not a lot that is surprising in matter of detail. But the big pi
Jul 12, 2018 rated it did not like it
This is a garbage corporate propaganda manual masquerading poorly as a novel for entitled white men in charge who want to put their fingers in their ears about the real problems of a workplace: stagnant wages, rampant sexism/racism, overwork, and other flavors of abuse.

"Maybe we don't need to pay workers more or give them sick pay, which would mean I wouldn't make $500K a year, the solution is to 'streamline' everything. Perfect."

It's pretty ironic that the phrase "IT work has more
Oct 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
OK. So it's not The Goal. The inspiration and the parallels are obvious (even explicit) and the story is entertaining but personally I didn't find it as ground-breaking. It can be very good for people to get a basic understanding of the many concepts (flow, WIP, TOC, systems thinking, ...) The focus of the book is firmly on the operational side of IT and any parallels with software development must be taken with care. ...more
Jurgen Appelo
Sep 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: agile-management
Great read, wonderful description of IT. As a novel quite OK.
Andrew Connell
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Love this book for every reason I didn't think I would get out of it when I started it. Picked it up on a friend's rec. I've read other biz books including those that focus on IT, but what I really enjoyed with this one is that it told a story rather than lectured. About half-way through I switched from being entertained to thinking more about my process (creating an info product... an online video course) and how I can improve it. The story part of the book helped me personally because while I ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: agile
It starts promising, and it gets you hooked. The story of a failing IT department due to unreasonable business behaviour is all too familiar. The book takes you on an interesting journey along side it's characters and it provides a glimpse inside the day to day life of software people. The ending however is rushed and feels like a romantic comedy when good prevails in the end and all evil is beaten. I would still recommend this book to any business person that has no idea on how software works a ...more
Rebecca Stevenson
Mar 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: day-job
I lost count of the number of times my eyes almost rolled out of my head while reading this. Business-as-parable is a painful genre anyway, and this one is literally ten times longer than it needed to be.

(BTW, did you know Bill was in the Marines? I DO BECAUSE IT WAS MENTIONED EVERY CHAPTER.)

I did enjoy the part where he quit, though. Save yourself a few hours and just read the bit at the end.
Aug 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is an IT business book, cast as a work of fiction. A middle-management IT guy who works for an auto-parts manufacturer is suddenly thrust into a high-level position by an insistent CEO. The IT guy doesn't really understand what led him to accept the promotion--he certainly didn't want it. Immediately after accepting the new job, a cascade of IT disasters hits the fan. Employees aren't going to be paid because of software glitches, A very important "Phoenix Project" that will be a new point- ...more
Jan 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: never-again
when i dove into this book, i thought i had an idea, i thought it's inspiring, tutoring..anything, it's just plain boring, it talks about working..literally working, in a cubicle , the kind of thing you read your entire life NOT to do, or even to escape it, it's like doing work with your eyes ( or in my case ears because i was listening to the audio) , i have no idea who would read this, it might appeal to some people, but i don't think that that kind of working people have the time to read this ...more
Sandro Mancuso
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book and a must read for any IT professional or manager. Anyone who ever worked for a medium to large organisation will immediately identify themselves with the situations described in the book. If you are not familiar with Lean, Theory of Constraints, Agile methodologies, and DevOps, you have an extra motive to read this book. But if you are already familiar with those things, you should read this book anyway, purely for the entertainment value. I'm sure you will learn a few goo ...more
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Anyone working in IT can benefit from reading this book...I probably shouldn't have considered it a comedy but there were so many scenarios I read where I found myself smiling, nodding and thinking, "That sounds about right." Kudos to the authors from showing the relevance of IT in the enterprise and how interconnected everything is that makes our businesses run. Additionally, great leadership skills highlighted by the main character, Bill. I think he'll be very successful! ...more
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Just like Tom DeMarco's Deadline almost two decades ago this is an absolute must read for everyone who's even remotely involved with IT, management, and operations in any kind of business in this day and age. ...more
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nbtr, audio-books, owned
Like most of the people, I was recommended this book by the president of my company and I liked it after all after working in IT support for more than 14 years I was able to draw parallels with my own experiences after all I have spent many hours going through and handling Sev-1 alerts myself. Yeah, it might be a little bit preachy and full of unrealistic scenarios but again that's why we have fiction books. And it's a story alright and a fun one at that. And I can't wait to talk about this book ...more
John Christensen
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit something, I love case studies. When a software development book starts throwing out "examples" of the methodologies being discussed, I tend to get interested in the story. I start paying closer attention. If they're well-written, I get very interested. Generally, I find myself wanting more. Naturally, I don't get this - the book is a dry technical reference on software development practices and not a novel. The fiction interspersed within is meant to keep you interested.

The Phoe
Oleg Ilyenko
Feb 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
A beautiful story about heroic manages on their journey to increase the resource throughput, the resource utilization, as well as resource task standardization. I was especially touched when all of the IT managers were gathered together and did their best to build the trust relationship between themselves by sharing the most precious memories of their lives and opening their hearts to the overwhelming human emotions of their peers. I think this was a pivotal moment for the whole management team ...more
Jacques Bezuidenhout
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I truly enjoyed this book and the way in which it was written.

Written as a novel, I could feel parts of my life in the book. I could relate to various characters/roles from positions I've worked in.

It also highlights things I've come to learn as problems.

I think this is a great book, not only for IT professionals or managers, but for every manager in your business, and every IT/Dev employee to read. This will give you a better perspective on what is needed to succeed.
It is not simply about doing
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Gene Kim is a multiple award-winning CTO, Tripwire founder, Visible Ops co-author, IT Ops/Security Researcher, Theory of Constraints Jonah, a certified IS auditor and a rabid UX fan.

He is passionate about IT operations, security and compliance, and how IT organizations successfully transform from "good to great."

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