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The Unicorn Project: A Novel about Digital Disruption, Redshirts, and Overthrowing the Ancient Powerful Order

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  913 ratings  ·  100 reviews
With The Phoenix Project we learned about the Three Ways. Now with The Unicorn Project, Gene Kim introduces the Five Ideals.

This highly anticipated follow-up to the bestselling title The Phoenix Project takes another look at Parts Unlimited, this time from the perspective of software development.

In The Unicorn Project, we follow Maxine, a senior lead developer and
Kindle Edition, 345 pages
Published November 19th 2019 by IT Revolution Press
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Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I wanted to like this story a lot more than I did... What resonated for me with The Phoenix Project, and later The Goal, seemed to be largely missing when I read The Unicorn Project. Some of it may have been due to already having been exposed to many of the concepts of the book, but the storyline and characters also seemed more forced than it could have been... The Phoenix Project was largely generic enough that I would readily feel comfortable recommending it to those not directly in the IT ...more
Sebastian Gebski
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great idea (re-utilized tbh), brilliant principles, but not a great book.

What did I like?
- the general "stage" was set quite well - easy to grasp & understand the problems, credible & "realistic"
- some of the comparisons (e.g. to "redshirts" were brilliant & hilarious :>)
- I likes "sensei" quotations - they may have felt a bit out of place, but they were very valuable in a context - my fav. one was about horizons
- I really believe this book can have its effect - I mean: be more
Joel Bastos
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like its predecessor "The Phoenix Project", this book dwells on the transformation required for companies to achieve sustained velocity and quality relying on communication and data-driven decisions. Although the timeline is pretty much the same as "The Phoenix Project", this time, the perspective is of the development and business.

I can relate with several signals of broken organizations, like silos, over-complicated processes and blameful culture. As most of my career was spent on operations
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book’s predecessor, The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win introduced me to DevOps in 2013, and while I was looking forward to learning new things about software development with this one, sadly, I can’t say that I did, but I still enjoyed it a lot. It was part horror story, part “I see this happen every day” and even part comedy, it made me roll my eyes (in a good way!) many times. It was very entertaining in a geeky kind of way.

I can certainly
Dec 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did have quite high expectation's from this book. Looking at The Pheonix Project and DevOps Handbook I thought this will be HUGE. and it was, but disappointment.

Firstly, with PP I could identify myself with problem and solution. I was trying to find a solution to the problem that Bill was having. It was really engaging and educational.

Here it was hard to identify with anyone in the book. Rebellion to save a company, working against everyone. I wasn't and I'm still not sure what this book is
Julian Dunn
Dec 20, 2019 rated it liked it
I read The Phoenix Project back in 2012 or so, near the beginning of the DevOps movement, and I couldn't put it down. As someone who had spent most of his career up to that point in mostly-horrible operations roles, many of the horror stories and high-pressure scenarios -- not to mention typical stifling enterprise bureaucracies -- resonated with me deeply. In the 7 years since I first read it, I've recommended the book to countless people, both technical and non-technical, as a way to ...more
Ben Goldin
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the story a lot as well as the level of details on many topics. This is the great book for organisation who are at the start of their (devops transformation) journey. There are obviously few things that work differently in the real life, for instance, it is just a great co-incidence that Parts Unlimited had MRP division that was already advanced in the way they did things. Usually that is not the case. It is also unusual to have people with the competence and the experience in modern and ...more
Tõnu Vahtra
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had high expectations towards this book and was not disappointed. When comparing it with Phoenix Project then I would say that there was more focus on Ops side in the first book while Unicorn project talks more about DEV delivery side (build automation, continuous integration) and also there are less individual characters to identify with (focus is more on overall process). Definitely recommend this book for a more holistic overview of IT organization challenges, how to overcome them and what ...more
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dev, audible, kindle, own
I loved the Phoenix Project and this book is quite similar. But you don't have to read the predecessor.
It's a funny and entertaining read, lots of pop culture and geeky references (i.e. Red shirts from Star Trek), common principles explained in a non-scientific way. Nothing really new, but you will learn a lot about politics in bigger companies and hear some disaster stories. If it would be a novel you could complain how easy you can turn the ship and become successful, not such much drama
Ciprian Dobre-Trifan
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Insightful and keeping you on your toes!

A great piece of digital society literature that should be found much more on all.physical and digital shelves.

There are some parts that bring on way too much information compared to the rest in a rhythm that is hard to follow.

Also, the story seems to make a little too much progress than the timeline leaves room for in some parts.

All in all a great inspiration to businesses and tech teams.
João Quitério
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good follow-up to The Phoenix Project that takes place at the same time but it's now focused on the development team as opposed to the operations/IT team. What I really enjoy in these books and that that they focus on mindset, organization, and practices, instead of technology which in my experience is the hardest and most impactful change in any organization.

The timeframe of the changes and their impact doesn't always seem reasonable but I don't think that diminishes the value of the
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a clean take on the Phoenix project I was worried it would just be a boring rehash but it was surprisingly fresh and new. I still think I prefer the story/structure of the Phoenix project as I liked the style and rush a bit more compared to the laid back feel of this (read as less firefighting).

For me this goes up there and I would rate them in the following must-read order.

1. The goal
2. The Phoenix Project
3. The unicorn project

But the order might change depending on your background and
Trevor Bramble
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, of course. Desperately needs another proofreading pass, but the content is at least as insightful and engaging as it's indispensable predecessor, The Phoenix Project.
Alex  Gyoshev
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun in a weird way, and I learnt a few things.
Andy Nortrup
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This should be on every software engineer and product manager's professional development reading list.
Brett Hinton
Dec 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: devops
The Unicorn Project was an enjoyable read for a technical novel. Maxine is an interesting character and it is fun to wind through pieces that sounded familiar from the Phoenix Project but from a different point of view. There were a number of important practices that they touch on throughout the evolution of the Unicorn Project that any development team would find valuable to implement within their own context. it is however genuinely light on many of the details or discussion of the nuances of ...more
Jack Vinson
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Note: I received an advance review copy. The book is slated to come out in November 2019.

This is a business novel, continuing the story that started in the Phoenix Project about a dusty old auto parts company that is struggling with all sorts of sclerotic systems and business processes. And it is about how they take some basic principles born of TOC, Lean, Agile, DevOps, and more and do something fabulous.

The story had me hooked pretty early, even having me concerned for the main character -
Ryan Kapsar
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: agile, management
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I found parts of the book at odds with some of the fundamental goals of agile and DevOps (which is odd given that Gene Kim is one of the founders of the latter movement). The primary issue I have with the book is the fact that the main character has zero work life balance. I understand this was a do or die situation with work. That there was a major crisis, but this was bad. In the Phoenix Project and the Goal (written by Goldratt) there's a better balance between ...more
Phil Tomson
The target audience of this novel is software development professionals. If you aren't involved in software development you're not going to get a lot of the terminology.

For those in the target audience don't think that this is an escape novel. It has a mission - It's basically trying to inculcate agile development practices (while also throwing in several plugs for functional programming along the way). And sure, most of those practices it's trying to convince you about are good. Maybe I made
Scott J Pearson
This work is a sequel to Kim’s other novel The Phoenix Project. Although the books fit together, they need not be read together. In other words, both books are self-standing. This work – essentially about dealing with the software industry in an age of constant change – does an even better job than The Phoenix Project at highlighting how businesses can adapt to and thrive in the digital era.

The book is set in an auto-parts company. Parts Unlimited has been a mainstay of industry since World War
Dec 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After thoroughly enjoying both “The Phoenix Project” and “The DevOps Handbook” and recommending or gifting them to colleagues and friends I had very high expectations for “The Unicorn Project”. I was quite disappointed.

There are foot bits and I have made a few highlights to come back to but overall I have been left with the feeling of a cheesy Hollywood romcom that fell flat despite a spectacular cast. The book oversimplifies everything and may leave many readers with unrealistic expectations
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(I received an early ebook edition of The Unicorn Project in exchange for a review. This review is my own opinion.)

First, I will say, if you haven't read The Phoenix Project, you do not need to read it before reading The Unicorn Project. They do stand on their own.

The Unicorn Project, being a business book and also a novel, is an interesting read, and should be particularly helpful and approachable for folks who aren't already hip-deep in DevOps, Digital Transformation, LEAN, SAFe, or any number
Tomasz Onyszko
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I gave this book 4 stars for one reason ... I will explain it at the end.

If you read The Phoenix project, this book will not surprise you. It takes in the same place, in the same company, other teams. Similar aspects. Same way of transferring knowledge via narration.

It is not a technical book. Don't expect to learn new technology use from it. Don't expect it to be a game-changer ... unless you are a character in this story in your real world. Then it might be revealing.

Aside from its
Vivek Gupta
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gene Kim has come up with his follow up to “The Phoenix Project” - “The Unicorn Project”. IT was a great read & I can tell you that this a must read for every leader in Enterprise IT whether they are starting, in the middle of or oblivious of digital transformation.

As Phoenix project gave rise to the “The Three Ways”, The Unicorn Project gives rise to “The Five Ideals”.

The book is written as a novel that charters the path of Maxine (an engineer) who navigates through the IT value stream in a
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For full disclosure I received a free copy of The Unicorn Project in advance of publication in exchange for a review. The content of the review are still my own independent thoughts.

The Unicorn Project is the second book about "Parts Unlimited" set at the same time as The Phoenix Project, but is a completely independent story. Whereas the initial book looked more at Devops this book looks from the perspective of a developer. As with the first book it is written in a very engaging manner with an
Jason Hibbets
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars, two thumbs up, and git commit. I breezed through reading Gene Kim’s “The Unicorn Project,” much like I couldn't put “The Phoenix Project” down. I love Kim’s writing style and the way he contrasts the reality of an entrenched corporate environment built for rules, stability, and process with a DevOps world that wants to meet the organizational objectives, focus on the customer, and execute the CEO’s vision.

The book, which will be available on Nov. 26, is billed as “a novel about
Zachary Lysobey
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: technology
This book is the sorta-kinda sequel to "The Pheonix Project". I loved that book, but like this one even more!

This is the story of a big company under-going a revolution in their software processes. The author "gets it". It was refreshing to find a fiction book that is set in the sort of environments I find myself working in day-to-day. I read very little fiction nowadays, and to be honest, this reads more like non-fiction. But, since its not *actually* true, the author was afforded a lot of
Dec 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found The Unicorn Project to be a captivating book which I enjoyed reading. I felt like cringing at times because of the situations described, but that is more of a quality of the book than something to criticise on. It is full of great learnings which could be useful to many technical and non-technical people.

I'm sure that there are many companies like Parts Unlimited "in real life", very toxic workplaces which focus on stakeholder share value on top of anything else, regardless of anything
Christof Damian
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
I got the The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win for free and didn't completely hate it, so I thought I give this one a try too.

The Unicorn Project is the developers view of The Phoenix Project, the timelines overlap and some characters are also shared.

That being said, I found the main character of this book super annoying. Apparently she is "really, really good" and keeps repeating this a few times. There is even half a chapter, which just describes how
Maya Senen
Not that anyone is reading this book for the prose, it is very possibly the most tolerable book on continuous integration out there. There are tropes and nuggets of wisdom, as Kim shows us a sketch of a company transitioning their development process. The same models apply- if you are engineering core services, make sure you know your developer needs and their daily work so you can best serve them. Be able to identify what is CORE and what is CONTEXT so you can spend your calories most ...more
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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."
“While the redshirts battle to contain the raging engine fire that is threatening the entire ship, the bridge officers continue to cover their asses,” 0 likes
“Ward Cunningham in 2003. He said, ‘technical debt is what you feel the next time you want to make a change.” 0 likes
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