Back to work after The Phoenix Project

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If you happen to be in any sort of agile transformation, or new to a scrum master or facilitator role this article is for you. I was in the middle of an agile transformation in my company when this book came to my attention, The Phoenix Project is a book about a company in the middle of an IT transformation, at first I thought it was another technical IT book but I found it was a novel and I was not a fan of novels at all, I then realized the book was really good and here are five takeaways I got.

1. Change Management

I have been working in IT Operations for the last 9 years of my career, and if you know what this is like, it is full of energy, lots of learning and stress all together. That is exactly what I felt when I started reading the book; lots of energy, stress and a super busy agenda and a company passing through an unplanned transformation towards a defined goal, which was the Phoenix Project implementation. I learned many things about the IT operations world like how to prioritize better and how to identify bottlenecks in your team.

If you ever interact with a change management department in your daily work you know how painful this can be. Sometimes it creates lots of frustration as this team reviews the work you are planning to do but they don’t know what the result will be, or how critical or simple it can be for you. They are just being extra careful not to break anything else and cause delays in some other major initiatives or projects that at the end of the day will delay your work for sure. In this book this is the first area of the transformation.

2. Kanban Boards

This book covers the introduction of Kanban boards and how efficient it is to make the team workload visible so prioritization can be optimized constantly. It also goes over the evolution of the board and how they adapted it to address the company different streamlines of work. Here you will also understand the importance of the work in progress limits and how using WIP in manufacturing plants can be compared to the IT operations environment, the importance of limiting the number of tasks a team works on simultaneously, reducing multitasking.

I learned as well that nowadays IT departments are the heart of the business and the better your IT team works the better your business will do, how IT outages impact different sides of the business and overall revenue.

Besides, the book makes a comparison between the manufacturing world and IT operations. In my case, I had a colleague that kept on saying that Agile only works in a manufacturing environment not in IT, so if you have some anti-Agile adopters in your team, this book will help you continue supporting your ideas and selling the framework to your team.

3. Bottlenecks

In every team there is someone who tends to absorb a lot of the workload, making this person the go-to guy or “team expert”, where most of the information is concentrated, in some companies, this is great because you can go directly to one person to solve a major issue, but what if this person leaves? How could he be replaced? Where will all the information go then? Understanding that this is not ideal and that it could become a bottleneck is very important. Identifying ways for these individuals to share information is vital, it will clear out delays in critical projects or during outages as other team members will be able to pick it up quickly in case needed, in other words, remove the concentration of workload to avoid this situation and create a culture of information sharing in your team is ideal.

4. Automation

Relying on automation will increase the speed of deployments and bug fixes. The more you improve your automation test environment the more you will be able to find issues before your customers even notice it. Also, the ability to perform a full regression testing at any time is a great tool to have under any IT environment. It will increase the speed of your deployments or software changes in production environment in the short term and it’s also a way to get ahead of your competitors by implementing fixes and upgrades faster and without interruption.

5. Mindset

Reading this book helped me understand my role as a scrum master and the importance of being an agent of change in my team mostly through facilitation and agile values. The IT operations world is pretty similar in every company. In the end what company does not have it today? We hear it all the time: Organizations need to be adapting and changing constantly, but it is its employees who need to do so by changing their mindsets to keep growing and improving in a fast-paced technology industry.

I hope you have enjoyed this article, please feel free to leave any comments below.

Do you want to know more about Agile? read my post about some of the roles in Scrum. What makes you a good Product Owner?


Kim, Behr, Spafford.2018.The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win.




No Matter What People Tell You, Words And Ideas Can Change The World.

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Juan Diego Rodriguez

Juan Diego Rodriguez

I’m an Telecom Engineer — Living in Toronto, Canada born and raised in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. CSM, CSPO, PSM-I, KMP-I, ICP-ATF, UX.

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