The Phoenix Project — book review

AN EXCITING FICTION-FOR-TECHIES BOOK

I read The Phoenix Project about two years ago. It is one of the most insightful books about running an IT organization that I encountered so far. In this post, I’ll try to give you an idea of how awesome it is, without giving too many spoilers.


It was 22:30 when I opened The Phoenix Project for the first time. I stopped reading at 1:00. On the second and third night, the story repeated. Luckily, the weekend came, and I managed to get back lost sleep.

The story is exciting: The main character gets a promotion from IT manager to VP of IT Operations in a big company. He’s not told that the IT organization is crippled and his job is to get it healthy again. In his new role, he encounters various IT operations related obstacles: severity one incidents, weekend-long deployments and impossible business/security requirements.

Various IT problems and their solutions appear in the first part of the book. Further on, things start to stabilize for the organization, and you get the reward of a happy ending ?. Nonetheless, I was surprised by the unrealistic ability of the IT organization to go through an organizational culture change process smoothly (a good reminder that this is a work of fiction).

The idea that impressed me most was the comparison of the IT organization with a factory. Looking back at my development experience, I observe that there are a lot more similarities between a factory worker and a software engineer than I’m comfortable to admit.

The Phoenix Project introduces various currently-used-in-IT concepts:

The main ideas and concepts are summarized again in the last pages of the book. Along with them, you will also find the resources (1, 2) that inspired the authors used when building up the plot. I recommend that you read at least this part of the book.

People working in tech will appreciate the quick intro into DevOps and IT management. I doubt that non-techies will find the book interesting.

Originally published here.