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

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  9,322 Ratings  ·  1,013 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 ...more
Paperback, 382 pages
Published October 16th 2014 by It Revolution Press (first published January 10th 2013)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jan 06, 2014 Will rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, it reminds me of an Ayn Rand book.

For every time I'm impressed how calm, kind and reasonable the protagonist is, there's another time how I'm shocked at how vindictive and petty the book (if not the protagonist directly) is to the people that seem to be standing in the way of the protagonist. Right now, it's security professionals, but a couple of chapters ago it was project managers, then developers, and then the CEO. No-one in those departments has any sympathy for the protagonist, n
Pamela (slytherpuff)
Feb 17, 2013 Pamela (slytherpuff) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Pamela (slytherpuff) by: Iris Culpepper
Shelves: own, business, 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 Thorsten 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 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Bjoern Rochel
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
Sergey Shishkin
May 04, 2015 Sergey Shishkin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 04, 2013 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jurgen Appelo
Sep 28, 2013 Jurgen Appelo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: agile-management
Great read, wonderful description of IT. As a novel quite OK.
Apr 18, 2014 Eric rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 08, 2013 Marcin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 30, 2013 Cara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Jul 21, 2013 Dennis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jacques Bezuidenhout
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
Mar 08, 2014 James 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 to 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 to closely to these shallow characters.

Some of
Willian Molinari
This is a great book for IT folks.

In case you worked (or still works) in a big company with lots of ITIL things that holds the development, this book will be like home for you.

It is a typical hero's journey and the characters are not so well developed (IMO) but the story is still good to follow. I've created many ideas for the ending and none of them were true, it made me give credits to the authors for not make it obvious.

The book is a fictional novel but it has some truth in it. ;)
Jul 26, 2015 Jadi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 24, 2015 Alexander rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most inspiring books I've read since "Deadline" from Tom DeMarco.
John Christensen
Feb 07, 2013 John Christensen 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
Jan 23, 2017 mohamed rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 12, 2015 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I honestly didn't know a book like this could exist. The format really took me by surprise, but luckily, it was a pleasant one. Essentially it follows a newly promoted IT operations manager as he tries to improve the way the IT department works in his company while struggling with all the bureaucratic challenges that come with higher management positions. The really interesting part though, is that the book goes through a lot of sound theoretical concepts and we see how they're applied practical ...more
John Norman
Jun 20, 2015 John Norman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 07, 2014 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A colleague of mine loaned me this book as we are going though deep discussions on how to adopt a DevOps model for our team's work. I'm already a believer in the methodology and I didn't need to be sold on it. He spoke highly of the book, and so this weekend I finally sat down to read it.

But I was very skeptical. Very.

A novel about IT? Ugh. I love to read. I love tech. I've worked in IT for more than a decade, but this did not seem like a good idea.

I was wrong.

It's not fine literature. It won't
Dave Golombek
Mar 18, 2013 Dave Golombek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: programming
I wouldn't have read this without a friend's recommendation -- a fictional novel about an IT department, with a heavy dose of evangelizing a particular approach to solving IT problems? Sounds like a snooze-fest at best and a shoot-me-now ordeal at worst. Instead, the book is fun to read, contains some interesting thoughts, and captures a lot of of the realities of working in an IT department. The blame IT game is sadly common and this book talks about some approaches to overcoming it, as well as ...more
May 16, 2014 Gert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, awesome
very interesting read though the topics are very specific and potentially very boring for anyone not in IT. That being said, it spans a broad spectrum of IT management and is a great way to build a foundation of knowledge that will significantly cut the learning curve for the specialised technical books short.

The book keeps you entertained with the horrible moments an IT department might live through when evolving to meet the modern day business demands while providing methodologies that take on
May 10, 2013 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been selling deployment automation solutions for over three years and am a novelist so imagine my delight to find this - a novel about DevOps written by some of the most highly respected names in the industry. As a novel it's excellently executed - tight, fast paced action with an intricate plot and a fine cast of characters spouting believable, true to type dialogue. As an industry manual I highlighted reams of passages that succinctly explain the messages we've been trying to get to the m ...more
May 05, 2015 Balhau rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well this is an amazing book. This was a surprise. First this reading was not an initiative of mine, instead this book was recommended by a friend and I must confess that I start the reading with some skepticism. Truly speaking I really thought I would lost my precious time with a not so enriching reading. Well, fortunately, I was completely wrong. This book is at the same time a very exciting and wise story that bring us very deep foundations of the IT world and the way automation revolutionize ...more
Phil Newman
I wanted to like this book. However, what I found were oversimplifications, generalizations and stereotypes. The Phoenix Project is a blatant rip-off of The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt. To be fair, The Phoenix Project does directly reference Goldratt's work, and the storyline and characters follow The Goal exactly. The only difference is manufacturing vs. technology. The characters even map: Herbie => Brent; Jonah => Erik; Alex => Bill; Lou=>Dick; Julie=>Paige. Overall, a big disappo ...more
Peter Chester
Jun 09, 2013 Peter Chester rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A DevOps / IT / Project Management Page-turner?!?

It's hard to explain how this first-person account of managing an IT department could grip me so intensely that I would lose sleep for a several nights in an effort to devour this tale.

This book is a personal narrative, an exciting and stressful portrait of how simple philosophies can transform a company. As a partner at an technical agency, I found this journey to be inspiring and educational. I want everyone at our company to read this!
Nov 27, 2016 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really had fun reading that book and you should too!

If you have anything to do with IT (even if your writing only E-Mails to them), then you should absolutely read that book! It, is well written, its exciting and it uses not much technical wording.
After ready it, you should have more sens for why IT works that way it is and maybe why your IT department react that way it does. And finally you should able change it to the better.
Dec 28, 2015 Lino rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: programming
A really entertaining read and very believable.

Anyone that worked on a large enough corporation would recognize all the political backstabbing, the hero coder (although in the book it's an infrastructure guy), the old broken down replacement laptop etc.

Besides its merits as a novel, it's a good take on using lean principles to bring a failing company together.
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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."
More about Gene Kim...

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“Improving daily work is even more important than doing daily work.” 7 likes
“Being able to take needless work out of the system is more important than being able to put more work into the system.” 4 likes
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