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The Phoenix Project recap

On my run today I finally finished The Phoenix Project. Long book, 14 hours πŸ˜…

Here's what I learned about "managing IT systems"

My edition had something like 3 or 4 chapters of The Devops Handbook tacked on the end. That was pretty neat.

Yes, The Phoenix Project is ultimately a devops book kinda aimed at traditional businesses that don't consider IT a core competency.

It's 2019. IT is always a core competency.


You can learn a lot from devops even if you're a dev not an ops.

Like The Goal, The Phoenix Project is also based on the theory of constraints.


Your goal when managing the IT process from start – requirements collection – to finish – delivering value in production – should be to improve throughput. It's okay to slow down parts of the system if that improves overall throughput.


Your project isn't done when you're dev complete and you toss your code over the wall.

Your project is done when it's in production. It is your job as developer to help with that part. Move config into code. Move infrastructure into code. Develop on production-like systems.


Reducing batch sizes improves throughput.

The smaller and less disruptive that deploys are, the more of them you can do.

The more you deploy, the faster you can see if it's working.

The faster you see if it works, the faster you can experiment.

The faster you experiment, the better you respond to the market.

1 deploy per feature is best. If it breaks, you roll back 1 feature and the rest keeps chugging along.


Automate deployments. Humans are slow and error prone.

Let humans focus on designing and improving the system that does the tedious parts automatically.


Your job is to deliver business value.

Engineers like to forget that.


Kanban boards are the best tool we know to visualize how well the system works as a whole.

Tasks that aren't on the board don't exist. Each work center should have a single point of entry for new work.


There are 4 types of work:

  • the work itself
  • work that manages work

  • changes

  • putting things in production

I think? This was difficult to tease out in this format.


Your clients might get excited that you can take on a whole lot of work. But what they really want is a predictable delivery timeline.

WIP is killer. Avoid.


Overall, The Phoenix Project was a great read. The characters were relatable, the lessons were easy to discern, and it's changed the way I think about my work.

You should give it a read 🀘

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Published on May 19th, 2019 in Technical

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