Books for Your Business: The Phoenix Project


Books for Your Business: The Phoenix Project

I don’t know about you, but I love to read. I read for pleasure but, more relevantly to this series, I also read to learn. This is why I have decided to start a new series, “Books for Your Business.” I will discuss books I have read that have taught me something over the last few years. I have a solid list of books that I read at least once per year. The book we will discuss today is one of those. Of course, my life is more than just repeat reads of books, but when I find a book that teaches me something, I tend to re-read it until I quit picking up new anecdotes from it. There will be books in this series about IT and other books about business in general. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I am going to enjoy writing it.

A Literary Shake Up

A few years ago, I stumbled upon a genre that was a game-changer: business fiction. Now, I don’t know if that’s really the name of the genre, but I do know that learning through a narrative journey is, quite definitely, the best way to learn. Why aren’t we all learning this way in every subject? I digress.

In 2017, I was looking for a book to read when I stumbled upon “The Phoenix Project” by Gene Kim, George Spafford and Kevin Behr. I initially skipped right past it but found myself drawn back, so I began to read the description of “The Phoenix Project,” which is:

“Bill is an IT manager at Parts Unlimited. It’s Tuesday morning and on his drive into the office, Bill gets a call from the CEO.

The company’s new IT initiative, code named Phoenix Project, is critical to the future of Parts Unlimited, but the project is massively over budget and very late. The CEO wants Bill to report directly to him and fix the mess in ninety days or else Bill’s entire department will be outsourced.

With the help of a prospective board member and his mysterious philosophy of The Three Ways, Bill starts to see that IT work has more in common with manufacturing plant work than he ever imagined. With the clock ticking, Bill must organize workflow, streamline interdepartmental communications, and effectively serve the other business functions at Parts Unlimited.

In a fast-paced and entertaining style, three luminaries of the DevOps movement deliver a story that anyone who works in IT will recognize. Readers will not only learn how to improve their own IT organizations, they’ll never view IT the same way again.”

Google Books

Now, tell me, are you hooked yet? I mean, who knew there was a book out there about us IT nerds, and better yet, it wasn’t some cheesy book mimicking “The IT Crowd” (although IT is stuck in a dingy basement). This was a book that was meant to teach us how to work. Needless to say, I bought the book and began to read. Since that day, I have read this book, along with the other books I will mention in this series, at least once per year. Every time I read it, I get a new idea or a new way to increase my own throughput. Perhaps something I have seen in a client engagement since my last read causes me to hear something differently.

A Fictional Story With Non-Fictional Lessons

In this book, you will learn how to apply the Theory of Constraints and Lean principles to your work as an IT Director. I encourage those outside of IT to read this book as well. From CEO to the bottom of the corporate ladder, everyone can benefit through learning and applying the lessons learned from Bill. Another great feature of the book is the other books you will learn about from within the lessons taught to Bill by his eccentric mentor, Eric. This is where I heard about “The Goal”, which is the book we will talk about next week because, let’s be honest, it’s the book that started this genre.

Reading this book taught me to start looking for way to work iteratively and that, sometimes, I need to take a step back and think through solutions instead of just charging ahead. While that last part probably wasn’t an intended lesson from the book, well done, Gene Kim, George Spafford and Kevin Behr, for teaching me anyway. Learning to work this way has undoubtedly helped me on my journey to InterWorks. Here at InterWorks, we already work this way, so it helped me to fit in with the culture.

I hope you stay tuned throughout this series. I have curated a list of books that will have a little something for everyone. Some of the ideas are even a bit contradictory from book to book, but that’s what I love so much about it. Even if you do not agree with one person’s philosophies, you can pick up another book, learn something new and try to adapt a different author’s philosophies to fit your own. I encourage everyone to read these posts and, more importantly, read the books we will talk about. Finally, I’d love to hear from you. Do you plan to read “The Phoenix Project”? Have you read it already? If so, what did you learn? What did you like or not like? I hope to hear from you all on my LinkedIn or my email,

More About the Author

Scott Perry

Data Engineer
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