The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford is an interesting book to stumble upon. I was able to pick it up a few months back when it was offered for free on the Kindle and finally got around to reading it this past week.
The book is a novelization about a company’s IT department in the thick of it. The company has not been doing well, missing quarterly goals regularly, and the IT department is getting blamed for a lot of it. The company’s initiative is called Phoenix Project has run into every stumbling block possible making it way over-budget and late. The CIO and the VP of IT Operations have been let go. This is where the book starts.
The main character, Bill, has managed to run his smaller department fairly smoothly and seems to be just flying under the radar. With the recent position openings, Bill is “promoted” to VP of IT Operations by the CEO even though he tries to decline it. This new position gets Bill out of his silo and much more involved. He begins seeing how reactionary the department has become. He assembles his team, gets mentored by a quirky new board members, and starts restructuring IT to follow ITIL practices. He tries to lead the IT department and the whole company out of the fire and its old ways all while under threat that the CEO might outsource IT in 90 days and the board might decide to split up and sell the company if it misses their next quarterly goals.
The authors of The Phoenix Project are the same team that wrote The Visible Ops Handbook – Implementing ITIL in 4 Practical and Auditable Steps.
I liked the book. It was an enjoyable read to reflect on the whole IT system and various processes. A lot of stuff hits the fan in the story, so hopefully you’re not experiencing the same thing in your day job. The Phoenix Project could make for an interesting book discussion among an IT department or even amongst department heads outside of IT. Seeing IT as a core competency that adds value to the organization is an important step to business management where IT can help the company innovate and reach its strategic goals, not hold them hostage.
If you’re interested in IT operations or work in it currently, I recommend The Phoenix Project. It is a good read for anybody in IT looking for a better way to do things, to think outside the norm, and reinvent the process for the better. The novelization of a few months in IT helps convey the message better than any textbook could and gives it a fast pace so you can enjoy it while thinking out the processes as they are presented.