The Phoenix Project Book

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“The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win” is one of a kind. I haven’t read anything like that so far, and I’ve loved it.


Bill is a team lead and one day gets promoted to VP of IT Operations. He is aware that it is a kamikaze mission, because CIO and previous VP of IT Operations got fired recently. The CEO of the company influences Bill and he accepts the promotion. Over the next weeks, Bill fights crashing systems, failing deployments and ridiculous audit finding. Bill learns about Agile development and DevOps the hard way. I found the beginning engaging and exciting, but it didn’t keep me as engaged towards the end. 4 stars out of 5

Here are the phrases that grabbed my attention:

CIO stands for “Career Is Over.” And VPs of IT Operations don’t last much longer.

CEO about IT “What I want is for IT to keep the lights on. It should be like using the toilet. I use the toilet and, hell, I don’t ever worry about it not working. What I don’t want is to have the toilets back up and flood the entire building.”

The way you can tell a vendor is lying is when their lips are moving.

Information Security is always always coming up with a million reasons why anything we do will create a security hole that alien space-hackers will exploit to pillage our entire organization and steal all our code, intellectual property, credit card numbers, and pictures of our loved ones.

Everyone thinks that the real way to get work done is to just do it. That makes my job [IT Operations] nearly impossible

We haven’t even agreed on how to do the handoff with Development. In the past, they’ve just pointed to a network folder and said, ‘Deploy that.’ There are newborn babies dropped off at church doorsteps with more operating instructions than what they’re giving us.

Your job as VP of IT Operations is to ensure the fast, predictable, and uninterrupted flow of planned work that delivers value to the business while minimizing the impact and disruption of unplanned work, so you can provide stable, predictable, and secure IT service

I can see that we’re not ready to have this discussion. Until you gain a better understanding of what work is, any conversation we have about controlling work will be totally lost on you. It would be like talking about acrobatics to someone who doesn’t believe in gravity yet.

They were still making last minute changes. It’s not a good sign when they’re still attaching parts to the space shuttle at liftoff time.

FUBAR, meaning “fucked up beyond all recognition.”

“Ha!‘Small credit card breach.’ I like that. Like ‘small nuclear reactor meltdown.’

Every work center is made up of four things: the machine, the man, the method, and the measures.

Improving daily work is even more important than doing daily work

You must gain a true understanding of the business system that IT operates in

A great team performs best when they practice. Practice creates habits, and habits create mastery of any process or skill. Whether it’s calisthenics, sports training, playing a musical instrument. Repetition, especially for things that require teamwork, creates trust and transparency.

I'm Valdas Maksimavicius. I write about data, cloud technologies and personal development. You can find more about me here.