The Phoenix Project TL;DR

This is a work in progress.

This is a summary of the book The Phoenix Project. I often use it with teams I coach, to help them see some of the issues they’re facing. I follow up with a couple of sessions, identifying our own Brents, work streams etc.

This summary is really just my notes, so I can quickly brush up on the story and where in the book some of the concepts are displayed.

Chapter 1

Bill becomes new VP. Pay-roll incident.

Chapter 10

Discover the bottleneck, protect the bottleneck.

Protect the most important work, and Brent from context switching. Protect the bottleneck, maximize utilization (well, reasonably).

Chapter 11

Chapter 14

90 day to make a miracle, or IT will be outsourced. Bill (Ops) and Chris (Dev) have lunch (bond a little), agree to “go down swinging”. Chris invites Bill to celebrate Phoenix completion. Ops is still drowned in fire fighting work though.

Chapter 15

Worklife balance discussion with Paige (wife). Good news from a DBA saying the change process “saved our bacon today”.In the Change Coordination Room, Patty shows the visual impact of the Phoenix top-priority unplanned work - no planned work (changes) got done for some time. Bill tries, but at first doesn’t recognize the fourth stream of work: unplanned work. H refers to it as Dark Matter: “you can only see it by what it displaces … Patty called it firefighting.” “Erik called it the most destructive type of work.” Explains why incident management, and follow-up (post-mortems), is so important. (And change management, and “goalies”, “hot chair”, … everything that tries to avoid unplanned work from happening.) Bill calls Erik to share his insights.

  • The First Way: creating fast flow of work through dev and ops - visualize this WIP so everyone can see it.
  • The Second Way: “eradicate largest sources of unplanned work” - feedback loops.
  • Protect your constraints/bottlenecks (Brent).

Erik mentions The Goal by Dr. Eli Goldratt. His five steps, Theory of Constraints:

  • Step 1 - identify the constraint. Any improvement done outside of the constraint is an illusion.
  • Step 2 - exploit the constraint. Should always be working on the highest priority work.
  • Step 3 - subordinate the constraint. Manage flow according to the constraint.

“Being able to take needless work out of the system is more important than being able to put more work into the system.” which is Agile Manifesto principle “Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.”

Professional Scrum in a nutshell (using Sprint Goals?): “Remember, outcomes are what matter – not the process, not controls, or, for that matter, what work you complete.”

Chapter 16

This work by Fredrik Wendt is licensed under CC by-sa.