A friend at work turned me on to a DevOps-centric book entitled “The Phoenix Project” a while back, and while I had every intention of reading the book, I delayed for far too long with other endeavors. However, once I opened it up and started consuming the content, I was hooked – it was difficult to put down. The story revolves around a fictitious automotive parts company in which IT is seen as a bottle neck by the business and Bill, the protagonist, sets about turning things around. I’m rather certain that many of us have been either in Bill’s shoes directly or a part of his team, wasting precious time battling with various lines of business and pointy haired bosses cut from the cloth of a Dilbert cartoon.
This book obviously has intentions of polishing your technical and business acumen, but hides it well inside of an engaging and very realistic feeling story. There’s just enough spicy drama surrounding the characters and the events to evoke emotions of despair and frustration, especially at some of the decisions being made by the business. I would relate that to the fact that I’ve seen the very same mistakes made from my days on the client side of the fence. It can often feel quite hopeless and as if the entire business world is out for your blood. The authors (Kim, Behr, and Spafford) do a great job at milking these disasters to strike up thoughts on lessons learned and how people fall into common pitfalls, such as having their working hours siphoned into a black hole of waste.
This book also reached out to me from a different angle – one of helping to understand those that are in the shoes of a business unit owner who is relying upon IT to deliver on strategic promises. I tend to gloss over the fact that I possess an MBA degree, but as I read though the chapters and “witnessed” the business grow and transition, I tended to nod in agreement at many of the key terms, tactics, and orchestration methods used to solve IT issues with a business mindset.
This sort of mindset is actually why I went out and planted my education flag in relatively unfamiliar business administration soil – to walk in another’s shoes. The Phoenix Project peppers the text with many great ways to understand work, maintain visibility, and formula for understanding the critical path, all while keeping the content in a readable and easy-to-digest reading level.
At just under $10 US for the Kindle version, it’s a rather tiny investment for many hours of reading enjoyment. I think that all walks of career paths will enjoy the story and gain some valuable insights – be it the admin / engineer, a department manager, or a C-level executive. The team that wrote this book also have another on the shelves by the name of “The Visible Ops Handbook“, holding value for those looking to take things a step further and deeper into the world of IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL).