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The Unicorn Project

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  4,872 ratings  ·  447 reviews
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 Phoenix Project, Bill, an IT manager at Parts Unlimited, is tasked with a project critical to the future of the business, code named Phoenix Project. But the project is massively over budget and ...more
Hardcover, 345 pages
Published November 19th 2019 by It Revolution Press
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  4,872 ratings  ·  447 reviews

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Sebastian Gebski
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 thought-provoking
Bjoern Rochel
Jan 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020, eng-mgmt
Wow, where do I start with this one? The Unicorn Project is a book that I immediately bought, once I heard of its existence. I loved The Phoenix Project, dug deeper by reading a lot of Goldratts books and subsequently also enjoyed The DevOps handbook and Accelerate. I expected to fall in love with this book, like I did with The Phoenix Project and The Goal.

Turns out I didn't, at least as a novel, even though the core messages of the book resonate with me.

What I didn't like specifically:

1. They
Feb 13, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned, fiction
Easily one of the worst books I've ever read. Or rather couldn't read: I gave up on page 199.
There might've been some good message in it, and it sounded like an interesting format, but unfortunately it reads like bad fan fiction.

There's the protagonist, a typical Mary Sue. No flaws, stellar career, awesome husband and kids, cute puppy, volunteering with refugees and a coding school, running a popular open-source project, able to deal with any technical or organizational challenge. The way you kn
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 sec ...more
Joel Bastos
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 12, 2019 rated it liked it
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 ab
Ieva Gr
Feb 05, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Why I read it: I liked the author’s previous novel ‘Pheonix Project’ a lot.

What I liked about it:
It is nice to read a novel about daily life of software engineers. The scenes of people coming together to fire-fight issues or to change the engineering culture made me wish I had more of that at work.

The five ideals presented in the book promote healthy cultural values for engineering companies.

The book gave me a better understanding of some agile practices. For example I’ve never thought much abo
Julian Dunn
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 understan ...more
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 identif
Feb 03, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lindsay Nixon
Feb 01, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5-3.75 stars

This book a manages to be a novel/story AND an excellent “best practices” business book while also showing some key issues and problems with large corporations.

If you like business books and novels, you’d like this. This author also references / pulls plot from Red Shirts by Jonathon Scalzi at least four times, so if you liked that book... (I think general scalzi fans would like this as well, even though it’s not science fiction).

The one gripe I have is the main character reads l
May 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Great concept, poor execution.

The book describes tech operations and inefficiencies within a company while covering various insightful concepts. However, it's clear the author comes from a strong tech background and isn't much of a writer. The book was poorly structured and had typos throughout and at times tried to explain concepts through chunks of text (spanning more than one page) spoken by one character without pause, which became really boring and difficult to follow. To make the storyline
Steven McDonald
Mar 21, 2021 rated it liked it
The first half of this book should come with a PTSD trigger warning for anyone that has worked in corporate dev environments 😂

Seriously though, this isn't a bad book, particularly if you feel like things are going wrong at work. It gives you some ideas for what might be frustrating you. What is pretty "unrealistic" is the approach to resolving them. The second half of the story really dragged on and I struggled to finish it off.

There is an interesting idea of "The 5 ideals" but after finishing
Bartosz Majewski
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
A few years ago, when I started to interact with more and more IT people in my work I took an effort to understand their work and become a better collaborator for them. The first step was Edward's Yourdon "The Death March". IT is the nervous system of any organization and business people who can't interact with it really can be like a disease attacking it. I'm trying not to be that.

I think it would be great if developers and managers on the IT side would understand the business much more. Since
Vadims Jagodins
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
It is a really great book, however not so exciting as Phoenix Project. I would recommend to read both. Probably better to start with Phoenix Project since it is referenced few times in Unicorn Project. Although these are two different problems and could be read in any order.

The book tells a story of developer/architect having difficulties to do her job in huge enterprise with a lot of bureaucracy and issues. She solves them one by one and company becomes the leader in innovation in its niche.

Rogério Vicente
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Another must read book by Gene Kim. The only thing I have to point out is that if you read "The Phoenix Project", you already know how the story ends, because this story happens in the same timeline, which kind of takes away some elements of surprise and makes it less exciting to read when compared with its predecessor story. ...more
Ben Goldin
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
João Quitério
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 insights
Boštjan Gspan
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's nearly scary how close descriptions in the book are to the situations I find at my clients. On the other hand, this is great because The Unicorn Project book is all the more relevant for them. For many, even the earlier Phoenix Project might create some "aha moments". The beauty is that you can enjoy reading also The Project Unicorn alone, without reading the Phoenix project first. ...more
Jack Vinson
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 - wh
Gaurav Gupta
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A great and fun read focusing on five key principles:
- Locality and Simplicity
- Focus, Flow, and Joy
- Improvement of Daily Work over daily work
- Psychological Safety
- Customer Focus
Vlad Fratila
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Agile enterprise has been discussed time and again, but Gene Kim's work on the subject has a fresh perspective. The Unicorn Project is a rehash of an older idea, first explored by the author in The Phoenix Project, a novel about Devops transformation in IT.

The Unicorn Project tells the story of Maxine, a senior engineer at Parts Unlimited, a large manufacturer and retailer of car parts. Maxine is blamed for a payroll disaster and gets sent into exile to the Phoenix Project - a new initiativ
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
'The Phoenix Project' was fantastic, and naturally it left me incredibly curious as to what Gene Kim would come up next with. This is a far cry from both the literary quality as well as the technical depth that made 'The Phoenix Project' so successful.

The prose is still told in a lighthearted, approachable way, but there were several elements that in my opinion don't make this a good book, or an educational one even.

The characters are not believable. Maxine is forever over-excited, child-like
Jul 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the first half of the book and got pretty annoyed at the second part. While it made sense to me that there could be a small group of smart people who want to change things for good, that they assembled bare minimum infrastructure to do modern software development, even that they got splendid business results for their first project, what I couldn't wrap my head around is how this trend can JUST spread across the organization like everybody is ready for the changes. Sure they encountere ...more
Artjoms Haleckis
Dec 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: dropped
I enjoyed Phoenix project a lot and I recommend reading it to anyone who wants to grow into a serious senior developer. It had mostly believable characters and situations and told a nice story of changing mindset from chaotic to well-streamlined, affecting both personal and business growth.

This book was a wild ride. Overall it sums up like this:

- Are we doing "X" here? (where X is a good thing)
- Nope (this exact word, over and over again)
- Holy cow!

- Am I right that we are doing "Y" here? (
Dan Guido
Oct 10, 2020 rated it liked it
This book was a drag. I enjoyed reading the Phoenix Project many years ago, and was excited to see that a followup had come out. I'm not sure if it's the difference in perspective afforded by my own career progression or if this book is fundamentally more basic, verbose, and sometimes obvious than its predecessor. In contrast to when the Phoenix Project came out, most of the lessons in this book feel well-known today: You should have small, testable components with automated continuous testing r ...more
Tõnu Vahtra
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Seanpmcclean McClean
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-reads
Have been looking forward to the chance to dive into this book since it came out and finally got the chance. Like it's predecessor, the Pheonix Project, and the Eliyahu Goldratt's The Goal (which I gather in some contexts helped inspire the Pheonix Project), it's a business improvement book masquerading as a fictional story - and I love it for exactly that. The story helps grab and engage people which in turn helps give the concepts, suggestions and ideas context and anchors in your brain. Some ...more
Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
I was shocked by my disappointment with this book. I really enjoyed the prior installment, The Phoenix Project, but felt that the story and the message of this book was not as powerful this time around. The lessons were more provocative and mysteriously drew you in with the former book, but this one laid the lessons out early on and made the rest of the book feel like filler. I came here to learn valuable lessons, not just to read a novel about what it's like to work in IT, so the story alone di ...more
Gustavo Leiva
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun to read.
If you already read the Phoenix Project then this one will feel certainly similar.
The Unicorn Project narrates the story more from the stand point of a software engineer, rather than a head of technology, which is IMO what the Phoenix Project does.
The book presents some of the DevOps practices and results in an entertaining story happening on a fictitious company.
My only criticism comes from the fact that they packed all the engineering work done in a matter of months, if not weeks,
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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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“Punishing failure and “shooting the messenger” only cause people to hide their mistakes, and eventually, all desire to innovate is completely extinguished.” 1 likes
“Simplicity is important because it enables locality. Locality in our code is what keeps systems loosely coupled, enabling us to deliver features faster. Teams can quickly and independently develop, test, and deploy value to customers. Locality in our organizations allows teams to make decisions without having to communicate and coordinate with people outside the team, potentially having to get approvals from distant authorities or committees so far removed from the work that they have no relevant basis to make good decisions,” he says, clearly disgusted.” 0 likes
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