Having devoured the Unicorn Project first, I took my time and savoured the Phoenix Project. There is so much clever detail hidden in the conversations between particularly Bill and Patty. It pays dividends to analyse it closely.
What it shows us clearly is how is easy to get overwhelmed by work in progress (WIP). Reading ‘The Phoenix Project’ won’t change any of that by itself, the lessons are there, clearly written on the pages. You will have to unpick your specific situation and learn to recognise your particular IT constraints and then find out your own effective ways to protect and then elevate them.
The continuous application of rigorous thinking to IT operations and development delivery can have a significant impact on your business and internal product portfolio, as well as reducing tech debt and MTTR.
So my question is – why would you not do it like this? I believe it’s often because we are so busy doing the things that make us feel comfortable, that we don’t take the time to question why we are doing them. Reading this book may open your eyes to one way of doing things but the lessons can only be applied if we’re able to give ourselves the time and space (and rigour) to keep pushing to reach our goals.
This is one of the principles of systems thinking, elevating yourself about the mechanics of every day activity to see if your activity is actually providing useful value to the customer. In The Goal, Eli Goldratt talks about looking in detail at what you’re actually doing. This is no different to W. Edward Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge. Both of these ways of understanding are core to what Erik Reid (the ultimate guru character in the book) says to the book’s protaganist:
“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.”Erik Reid, The Phoenix Project
Fundamentally, you must answer what type of a business you are, how is IT both constraining and elevating your ambitions and what types of work you’re doing – and what results you want to achieve. Only by asking yourself hard questions, looking closely at how you work and WIP and by working together as a team can you improve in the three ways that Gene Kim et al show us:
The First Way: Flow/Systems Thinking
The Second Way: Amplify Feedback Loops
The Third Way: Culture of Continual Experimentation and Learning
It’s not good enough to just be aware – everyone in the organisation must practice them everyday in everything they do.
Buy the book, read it, preach it, learn to live with it.