Phoenix Project Book Review


The book is an excellent read where I’ve had the opportunity to read about Parts Unlimited going through many pains to improve the IT operations and go from a drag of the company (at risk of being split apart) to moving ahead of the competition. This book is built on top of the DevOps Handbook which was written by the same authors and brings the concept of the three ways. A good summary of this can be seen at but a quick skim of the article shows the following:

The First Way: Systems Thinking and the Principles of flow

  • Reducing WIP (work in progress)
  • Removing project constraints and bottlenecks;
  • Make sure to not pass any known defect to another department or work center;
  • Continually trying to find ways to simplify and improve workflow.

The Second Way: Feedback loops and the need for amplification

  • Faster and small feedback loops
  • Keep fixing issues and improving the system

The Third Way: Creating a culture of continual experimentation and learning

  • Enable and encourage experimentation
  • Allow for improvements to daily WIP
  • Allow for personal long-term growth
  • Enable a safe culture of failure that learns from both successes and mistakes

The genius of the book is that it picks many of these concepts that might not be obvious to everyone and makes them clear in a fictional history. And in a way where I could see many interactions I had at previous work experiences, either on the lack of work organization, no way to know what was being tackled, lack of monitoring, no standardization on repeatable tasks, no documentation, etc.

So yes, I might need to write, rewrite, read, and re-read this again and again because I feel I’ll go through these pains multiple times in my life. And might be going through some right now. I need to stop and do a retrospective on how I’m personally tackling my daily work and where I can improve the processes 😅. At least identify where we are.