The Phoenix Project: Review and Summary Notes

The Phoenix Project

The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford

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The Phoenix Project


Theory of Constraints as applied to a software business.

See also: The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

4 types of work

  • Unplanned work
  • Planned work: Business features
  • Planned work: Internal IT projects (refactoring, paying down tech debt)
  • Planned work: Changes to existing systems (upgrades, migrations)

Any “20% time” (time your engineers spend refactoring, paying down technical debt) is wasted if it does not improve the constraint.

If you think IT Operations has nothing to learn from Plant Operations, you’re wrong.

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.

People think that just because IT doesn’t use motor oil and carry physical packages that it doesn’t need preventative maintenance. Metaphors like oil changes help people make that connection. Preventive oil changes and vehicle maintenance policies are like preventive vendor patches and change management policies. By showing how IT risks jeopardize business performance measures, you can start making better business decisions.

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