4 Breakthroughs from The Phoenix Project



A friend strongly recommended I read The Phoenix Project.  The novel is modeled on Eli Goldratt’s The Goal, set in an Information Technology (IT) department of the fictional company Parts Unlimited.  It details the many issues most IT departments face and examples of how to solve those issues and create better lives for the people in that company.  The winning approach that helps Parts Unlimited is one that is more collaborative between the business and the IT department.

When we meet Bill the IT Manager at Part Unlimited he gets thrust into the Phoenix Project by the CEO.  This is a major initiative for the whole company and especially the IT department.  The CEO has given Bill 90 days to solve the problems with the IT department or his going to out-source the whole group.  Just a little motivation don’t you think!  Bill is given advice from a prospective board member about how to improve things using the philosophy of The Three Ways.  Bill finds a lot of challenges along the way in working on turning things around to meet the company goals.

There are series of breakthroughs for Bill and his team at Parts Unlimited.  As he meets and talks to the prospective board member Bill learns of changes that are needed similar to the manufacturing environment that this board member has experience from.

Limit your Work In Progress (WIP)

They learn to limit the projects the IT department is working on by identifying that one of the main resources Brent is working on many different items.  I have seen this at many organizations where someone is charged with being the super-developer trying to fix five things at once and doing a terrible job on all of them.

Throttle the flow into Information Technology(IT) department

Bill attempts to freeze projects to stop the explosion of new requests his IT department.  This can be problematic as various stakeholders get used to throwing things into the IT to-do list.  This goes along with the first breakthrough of limiting your work in progress.  I have witnessed this first hand where people keep adding to your product backlog.  It helps to have some litmus tests before something can make it to the backlog.

Building the DevOps flow

The IT department builds the DevOps flow after working through many issues to get there.  They set it up to better handle non-functional requirements in their development environments.  The reduce the batch size to enable a single change to flow into production in a short time and create operational resilience.

Bring Constraints in-house

The team at Parts Unlimited realizes one of their key constraints is an external resource, they get it brought back in.

Have you read The Phoenix Project?  Did you learn something new?  Share in the comments.


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