Steve Stone

Developer. Designer. Youth Worker. Nerd.

The Phoenix Project

November 8, 2021

I just finished The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford. It’s a business book hidden inside a fictional narrative, which was fun.

Bill is an IT manager at Parts Unlimited. He has just been promoted to VP of IT when the CEO fired the two people above him. However, he doesn’t want the job... The company’s critical new application (the Phoenix Project) is late and massively over-budget. Board members are upset and threatening to split the company and sell it off, terminating thousands of jobs. Not only that, but the IT team itself has been poorly managed, under-rated, the bottleneck in many company initiatives. Unless the IT team, with Bill at the helm, can get their act together the company itself will fold.

The book practically works through the “Three Ways” philosophy

  1. The Theory of constraints, a methodology for identifying the most important limiting factor (i.e., constraint) that stands in the way of achieving a goal and then systematically improving that constraint until it is no longer the limiting factor.

  2. Lean Productivity or the Toyota Production System is applying feedback looks and cintinuing to iterate.

  3. Total Quality Management is to use that iteration and repitition to build high-trust and mastery.

It was fun. I liked the idea of telling a story and to see inside the glimpse of another company (albeit a fictional one). I’ve heard or read about several of the “ways” before, but this was way more practical which was fun.