Month: September 2022
Not what you’re looking for
Summer Reading List 2022: third
Coming in under the wire this time, but I have my reasons. See yesterday’s post if you’re wondering about those.
Title: The Phoenix Project
Author: Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, George Spafford
This one was, in a way, assigned. My predecessor as CTO, who is now an investor and board member, suggested I read it as part of training for a position that I will freely admit I am still unprepared to hold. That said, it wasn’t all bad. I could justify reading it during working hours if I had downtime, so there’s that.
The premise of the book is that it’s a guide to implementing DevOps practices, but disguised as a novel. The story follows Bill, an IT manager at an automotive corporation, as he attempts to right the sinking ship his company has become. Their latest creation, the titular Phoenix Project, is long overdue and far beyond its initial budget, but the company is in such disarray that they can’t make any headway on it. Instead, management pushes them through a disastrous deployment, and our hero is left to clean up the mess.
Yeah, I get that. And I get how it relates to my own position. We’re pretty close to that rollout right now, so the advice is…timely, I suppose.
As non-novel novels go, it’s not too bad. Characterization is scant, dialog sometimes feels forced, but the story progresses in a relatively normal manner. It reads like a novel, not a manual, although the manual qualities come out a lot more often than in other attempts at the format. (Is there a Manga Guide to DevOps yet? There should be. That might actually get me interested in the art style!)
If the book has any major failing, it’s that far too much of the “story” revolves around the Mary Sue character of Erik. He isn’t there to create or resolve conflict; his only purpose is to recite MBA mantras cloaked in mystical thinking. As you probably know, I detest mystical thinking. It’s why I couldn’t continue CBT. It’s why I tried to reinvent humanism. When people start blathering about threefold paths and pretending their way is the only way, that’s when I tune out.
So it was here. For the business improvement aspects of The Phoenix Project, I would rather read a bulleted list than the monologue of an author insert. At least then the lack of criticism and skepticism surrounding it would make sense.
Despite that, I consider this a good read, but only because it has useful information. Forget the story part. That’s nothing to write home about. But the business advice, even presented in this form, does have merit. And that’s not a bad way to end the summer.