AHA Moments


Book review on [The Phoenix Project]


The Phoenix Project is a must read for anyone serious about modern IT industry. Its format in novel set the scene for the readers whom are brought back to their daily life: endless task queue, unsatisfied boss, and worst of all, tensioned family relation.

So comes the salvation. It's not saying that the book will tell you the solution to your failed projects. Yet there's definitely a possibility shown to you, guiding you to reflect on the common overlooked cure, with science accumulated in past decades, and spirit of continuous improvement.

This book is just a start to the innovated path. Lean production, Agile, Scrum are lined up in your reading list. The benefit of novel is the memory of the story and the characters: it's like an "Inception", even after all those are gone, you still remember the excitement both to the protagonist and to you as the reader, and you will follow the same path to a better world.

Concepts to expand

Lean production

The book make an analogy between IT operations and plant work, which enables borrowing of all the concepts from lean production. To learn lean production in a whole may not be a good investment solely for IT work, but some ground knowledge would help. Especially when some look into the history of lean production might ring a bell in IT workers' mind.

Theory of constraint

Any improvements made anywhere besides the bottleneck are an illusion.

Carve this into stone! When doing any work, man should keep that in the mind as a check gate. That also implies the necessity to prioritize work.

Unplanned work

Unplanned work is the most disrupting factor to on-time delivery. When there's so much of them, people tend to see them inevitable. They are not. At least most of them are not. The answers lie in solving technical dept, automating or standardizing work.

Technical dept harms the maintainability and stability of systems. It further stand in the way of daily efficiency and cause a deteriorating workplace by spawning unplanned work.


To reduce unplanned work due to failure of collaboration.

The three ways

Conceived by the author of the Phoenix project, it's the principles behind the protagonist's decisions.

  1. The First Way emphasizes the performance of the entire system, as opposed to the performance of a specific silo of work or department
  2. The Second Way is about creating the right to left feedback loops. The goal of almost any process improvement initiative is to shorten and amplify feedback loops so necessary corrections can be continually made.
  3. The Third Way is about creating a culture that fosters two things: continual experimentation, taking risks and learning from failure; and understanding that repetition and practice is the prerequisite to mastery.

In my own words: Think from the overview, feedback look, practice by failures and repetitions.

Queue theory

The mathematics behind lean production. I believe I could get some inspiration from it.

Continuous improvement

Improving daily work is even more important than doing daily work.

I believe it's at least as important. We are too much focused on just get the daily job done without a second look at the possibility of improvement. With available technologies, there are far more we can do to get the current done better and the coming one.

The goal

The book on theory of constraint from Goldratt worshipped as bible in the Phoenix project. I'll come back when I've finished that.