by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and George Spafford

The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win

The Phoenix Project is a great way to get non-technical managers to understand what developers do. Every person involved in a failed IT project should be forced to read this book.” –Tim O'Reilly, Founder & CEO, O'Reilly Media

The Phoenix Project is a must read for business and IT executives struggling with the growing complexity of IT.” –Jim Whitehurst, President and CEO, Red Hat, Inc.

About the book

Learn how to recognize problems that happen in IT organizations; how these problems jeopardize nearly every commitment the business makes in Development, IT Operations and Information Security; and how DevOps techniques can fix the problem to help the business win.

The Phoenix Project - book - Paperback


  • 376 pages
  • Revised with resource guide, including Why Do DevOps?, Where DevOps Came From, The Three Ways Explained, Top DevOps Myths, The Four Types of Work, and more


The Phoenix Project

Audiobook cover image


  • 11 hours, 53 minutes
  • Narrated by Chris Ruen


Kindle: The Phoenix Project

From the authors of
The Visible Ops Handbook

Gene Kim
Gene Kim
Kevin Behr
Kevin Behr
George Spafford
George Spafford

About the book

Bill is an IT manager at Parts Unlimited. It’s Tuesday morning and on his drive into the office, Bill gets a call from the CEO.

The company’s new IT initiative, code named Phoenix Project, is critical to the future of Parts Unlimited, but the project is massively over budget and very late. The CEO wants Bill to report directly to him and fix the mess in ninety days or else Bill’s entire department will be outsourced.

With the help of a prospective board member and his mysterious philosophy of The Three Ways, Bill starts to see that IT work has more in common with manufacturing plant work than he ever imagined. With the clock ticking, Bill must organize work flow streamline interdepartmental communications, and effectively serve the other business functions at Parts Unlimited.

In a fast-paced and entertaining style, three luminaries of the DevOps movement deliver a story that anyone who works in IT will recognize. Readers will not only learn how to improve their own IT organizations, they’ll never view IT the same way again.


Praise for The Phoenix Project:

0521826“A must-read for anyone wanting to transform their IT to enable the business to win. Told through an absorbing story that is impossible to put down, the authors teach the essential lessons in an accessible way. Every business leader and IT professional should read this book!” –Mike Orzen, coauthor of the the Shingo Prize winning book "Lean IT - Enabling and Sustaining Your Lean Transformation."

thumbnail-1“It's a gripping read that captures brilliantly the dilemmas that face companies which depend on IT, and offers real-world solutions. As Deming reminds us, "It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory." The Phoenix Project will have a profound effect on IT, just as The Goal did for manufacturing.” –Jez Humble, co-author of the Jolt award winning book "Continuous Delivery," and Principal at ThoughtWorks Studios

206e14a“This book is the modern day version of The Goal.  Today, our constraints aren’t robots inside our factories, but it’s how we manage technologies like Tomcat and Java that power our most critical projects and applications. This book continues the journey that began with Shewhart, Deming, Ohno and Dr. Goldratt, and shows us how to diminish our modern constraints to help the business win.” –John Willis, VP Client Services and Enablement, enStratus, Host of “DevOps Cafe"

thumbnail“This is the IT swamp draining manual for anyone who is neck deep in alligators.” –Adrian Cockroft, Cloud Architect at Netflix

JoshuaCorman2““Our dependence upon software and IT have grown at a rate faster than our ability to secure or manage. Reading this book is like watching an opening scene from Hitchcock, an unbroken chain of undeniable realism, punctuating how dependent we are on IT. The DevOps revolution is the moment that every information security practitioner has been waiting for. The death spiral can be broken, and this book shows you how.”” –Joshua Corman, Director of Security Intelligence, Akamai Technologies; Co-Founder of

Longstaff Headshot“This insightful walk through the pain and success of business will trigger deja vu for anyone who has ever run afoul of their complete reliance in their IT organization. I see my own experiences in every stage of the story.” –Dr. Thomas Longstaff, Program Chair, Computer Science, Engineering for Professionals, The Johns Hopkins University

0c6a4d1“This book is worth reading if you have a stake in operations at a business using IT. If you are a C-level executive, you should most definitely take time to read The Phoenix Project. Consultants, auditors, designers, educators ... there are some lessons in it for everyone.” –Dr. Eugene H. Spafford, Professor at Purdue University and Computer Software Consultant

0a22ba0“Business lives at the intersection of people, process and technology. The Phoenix Project leverages the drama of real life so we can vicariously learn the critical lessons of managing technology in this crazy, fast world. You must read this book unless you prefer to learn the hard lessons the hard way!” –John M. Bernard, Chairman and Founder of Mass Ingenuity, Author of best-selling book Business at the Speed of Now

thumbnail“The lessons in "The Phoenix Project" might just save your business if IT fails for you. Every IT executive should share this book with their business peers.  ” –James Turnbull, VP Operations, Puppet Labs and author of Pro Puppet

“"Everyone know that most of IT Operations is a mess, but very few have ever understood why. This book finally exposes the underlying problems and takes us on a journey by which we arrive at real solutions."” –Ben Rockwood, Director of Systems Engineering, Joyent

3d8fd51“This book is compelling, believable and contains valuable lessons for anyone who needs to know how business strategy and technology intertwine. Without a doubt, The Phoenix Project will repay any investment in reading time and can save you a world of pain.” – Michael Krigsman is a strategy consultant and prominent columnist at ZDNet on IT Project Failures

AdamShostack  001-2“I couldn't put this book down.  Imagine sitting next to an unpleasant, rowdy and dysfunctional family at a picnic.  You feel smug and superior, when suddenly, you recognize your cousin.  This book will make you squirm, as it describes characters, behaviors and scenarios you recognize.  It's an enjoyable and rewarding book.  Highly recommended.” –Adam Shostack, Co-Author of "The New School Of Information Security"

2d380c1“Every IT and business leader needs to read this book.  It reads like a work of fiction, captivates like a mystery and educates like a textbook.   There are only a handful of books that have a permanent location in my office bookshelf, and The Phoenix Project is one of them. –Lisa Schwartz, Chief Operating Officer, ITSM Academy

3fa15a4“This is a really fun book. Anyone who has run a large initiative will relate to the Tetris-like challenges associated with planning, as well as the surprises and complexities around the launch. The Phoenix Project shows how the problem goes far beyond IT and technology, and presents ways that organizations can overcome them.” –Allison Miller, Senior Director of Business Operations, Electronic Arts

16619a6“"The Phoenix Project is the business book that IT people have been waiting for. Everyone will have crossed paths with (or been) the characters in this novel, at some point in our careers. Readers will learn critical lessons on helping your business win, as well as enjoy the story."” –David Mortman, Chief Security Architect, enStratus, Author at The New School Of Information Security

thumb-paul“The description of outages and problems were so real, it made my heart race. Every CIO and IT manager needs to read this book.” –Paul Farrall Vice President IT Operations at Big Fish Games

0b9ef64-1““The Phoenix Project is practical and useful, emotionally challenging and extremely entertaining. The authors take a topic that normally speaks only to IT process geeks and make it fun, relevant and also terrifying to anyone who has ever watched a project go off the rails. I nearly wept as the protagonists made mistakes I've made, and cheered when they saw the light. This is a great read for team members, their stakeholders and their significant others.”” –Joe Telafici, Former VP Operations at McAfee Avert Labs and Founder, Telafici Consulting and Services

headshot“Some books you give to friends, for the joy of sharing a great novel. Some books you recommend to your colleagues and employees, to create common ground. Some books you share with your boss, to plant the seeds of a big idea. The Phoenix Project is all three. Providing a compelling answer to the question, "Why DevOps, why now?", The Phoenix Project is required reading for anyone whose business depends on IT.” –Jeremiah Shirk, Integration & Infrastructure Manager at Kansas State University, and DevOps enthusiast

256d1b5“The Phoenix Project held my undivided attention from page one. A rare read, which accurately describes the absurd reality occurring whilst delivering and maintaining software products. I caught myself laughing out loud at the seemingly preposterous situations that sounded all too familiar. This book provides a vision and practical solutions that readers can put into practice in their own business.” –Dominica DeGrandis, Independent Consultant, Kanban for Development and IT Operations Training

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Every modern company is a software company, whether they realize it or not. This book is an entertaining yet disturbingly realistic depiction of the technological and operational complexities underlying major software initiatives. No matter what your role, you'll emerge from this story with a laundry list of ideas for transforming your teams into efficient juggernauts. Anyone who interacts with IT should read this book ASAP.” –Chris Eng, VP Research at Veracode

34f271c““The characters in this book are so realistic, I think I've worked with some of them. The scenario is entirely believable, describing the rampant tribalism that happens inside of IT.  Fortunately, so are the transformational ideas. Why didn't someone write this insightful book before now?"” –Kip Boyle, Manager, IT Operations, Expeditors International

Ed BellisThe Phoenix Project's realism brought back cold sweats of SOX 404 Audits from my days as a public company CISO. This book is packed full of lessons for managers in multiple disciplines. I only wish I had read this prior to learning many of them the hard way. I'd highly recommend becoming versed in the authors real world lessons.” –Ed Bellis CEO Risk I/O

“The Phoenix Project features characters ripped from your IT department. Kim depicts the stresses and trials of modern technology work with painful accuracy. But it's not just a dissection of all the problems; it offers ideas on actionable ways to take the neverending churn and turn it into something meaningful and successful. IT work, despite the excuses we make, isn't unique - there are many lessons that other areas of endeavor have learned that can be used to better our lot. Read the story and learn!” –Ernest Mueller, Manager of Development at Bazaarvoice

31b09a7“You'll have a different perspective on IT after reading The Phoenix Project, whether your job focuses on business, software development or operations. The book's characters and their challenges are so realistic, you’ll think its story is about you. Learning opportunities permeate these pages.” – Lenny Zeltser, Director of Product Management, NCR Corporation

DSC_9368-crp“As a longtime fan of The Goal, I immensely enjoyed seeing application of Lean principles to the IT value stream. The accounts of IT systems failures were painfully vivid, and answer the question of “there must be a better way” for any IT professional who wants their life back.” –Charles Betz, IT architect, author of the book “Architecture and Patterns for IT” and “ERP for IT” blog

1c6e15c“How businesses use technology has changed, and this book is the Moneyball that describes how to survive. Any CEO or board director who does not read this book will soon become dinosaurs.” –Mike Dahn, Head of Data Security Relations, Square, and Co-Founder of Security B-Sides

2287c9b“Because the lessons in this story are universally applicable, every CIO will benefit as I did: reminded of their own experiences and inspired to overcome the increasing challenges of IT.  Because IT is a business competency, not just a department, this book has become mandatory reading for my clients CEO and CMO's.” –Matt Hooper, Executive Marketing and IT Consultant, Co-host of the "IT Service Management Weekly Podcast"

PaulPeissner2012a-2“This book shows how competitive business advantages are increasingly created by collaborative and innovative IT teams.  Business leaders must know how IT and DevOps can create financially material advantage and definable differentiation, and this book will show you how.” –Paul Peissner, Director of Business Development, CollabNet, DevOps Enthusiast

3c08acc“This book should be required reading for the entire leadership of any organization where IT isn't actively helping the business win” –Dennis G. Ravenelle, Senior Project Manager, Harvard University IT and author of IT That Matters: An Executive’s Guide To Maximizing The Strategic Value Of Your IT Investment

thumbnail-1“This is an important book. It shows the fundamental insanity of artificial divisions between development, IT operations, and 'the business.'  Get off your 'hamster wheel of pain' and learn to enjoy the ride!” –Hal Pomeranz, CEO, Deer Run Associates

22e605d“In the tradition of the best MBA case studies, this book should be mandatory reading for business and IT graduates alike.” –Paul Muller, VP Software Marketing at a Fortune 50 Company

thumb-branden“This is the best IT management book of our generation.  Should serve as the definitive guide for every IT manager” –Branden Williams, CTO Marketing at RSA

200f687“Every business is in the IT business, regardless of the business that they think they’re in. This compelling book provides much needed insight into the inputs and outputs of IT and shows how important the DevOps movement is. Get this book, read it and share it.” –Christopher Little, Career Software Executive, DevOps Advocate, Currently @BMC_DevOps

thumbnailThe Phoenix Project is an uncomfortably realistic portrayal of problems inside an IT organization. The characters frustrate us by making the same mistakes we make every day.  Then they delight us by demonstrating how we can transform our organizations into teams that deliver high-quality software on a regular basis” –David Kreth Allen Manager Marketing & E-Commerce Solutions Be The Match

thumbnail“Reading The Phoenix Project was almost surreal -- imagine living through a near perfect storm of failure and finding the correct point of reference, understanding what was happening and, most importantly, how to fix it.” –Derek Klein Programmer / Analyst II at BAAQMD

28c3b96“"Reading The Phoenix Project will likely trigger post-traumatic IT stress disorder. I have lived through pretty much everything described in the first half of the book. However, this book also provides creative and practical ways to break the downward spiral. Reading this book will help IT professionals and their colleagues to gain a mutual understanding, as well as lead them out of the fog of war."” –Wendy Nather, Research Director, Enterprise Security Practice, 451 Research

“This is a great book that shows how to break down silos, understand end to end processes, implement proactive management and maintenance practices, manage by fact, and fix security issues that matters instead of obeying arbitrary checklists. 'The Phoenix Project' demonstrates how security can contribute effectively and share skills that align with the business using manufacturing principals that have worked for decades. We've known the 'what' for years, and this book provides the missing 'how' and 'why,' so that we can focus on what the customer and company needs, put sensible solutions in place, stop spouting meaningless jargon, driven by templates and inflicting unusable process on people that were never involve the creation. Highly recommended!” –Sue Meek, Information Security Analyst

D22_8025“The authors of The Phoenix Project have long been visionary in their understanding of the relationship between realistic IT discipline and business success. With the storytelling approach of this book, they vividly bring their pioneering insights to life.  As with The Goal before it, anyone who has worked in the modern enterprise will readily identify with its clear, “warts and all” depiction of how closely IT and business priorities depend on each other, and where the focus of change can have the greatest positive impact.” –Scott Crawford, Managing Research Director, Enterprise Management Associates

“Everybody in IT has a collection of memories classified under ‘when I write a book.’ This book has most of them. The Phoenix Project is an engaging novel about IT Ops and Information Security. What starts with a few ‘I already know that’ moments develops into a captivating tale of continuous improvement and the value of getting work done by busting through boundaries. If you have any interest in IT, you will build the next few iterations of your professional self on top of the knowledge gathered from this book.” –Wim Remes, Managing Consultant at IOActive and Member of the Board of Directors at (ISC)2

thumb-julia“I started reading yesterday and, like any good novel, I literally could not put it down until I was done.” –Julia Allen Principal Researcher at Carnegie Mellon University/SEI/CERT

thumb-dwayne“This book should be mandatory reading for business and IT graduates alike.” –Dwayne Melancon, CISA Chief Technology Officer of Tripwire, Inc.

Carlos Casanova“Reading about Parts Unlimited sent me back to therapy to try and forget about previous managers. These characters are real people that we have all, unfortunately, been subjected to in our past. This story is a must read for all senior managers and executives.” –Carlos Casanova President and Solutions Architect at K2 Solutions Group Inc

eompic-2“This book is the modern day version of The Goal, not only for IT professionals but for all business professionals.  It is especially well-suited as a supplement for upper-level undergraduates and MBA students, to illustrate how IT supports the business, as well as enabling overall business objectives.” –Mike (Tae-In) Eom, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Operations & Technology Management, University of Portland

3712dd0“This book takes some genuinely difficult concepts and melds them into a novel that makes it accessible to everyone. This book should be standard reading for all IT operatives, not just those that are in senior positions. It is not just a fun read, creating empathy for each of the key players but it is also educational and thought-provoking. I found myself thinking of how to implement the processes described in the book in my own work.” –Tom Howarth, Virtualisation and Cloud Architect, Owner PlanetVM

168f1f1“What happens when IT and the business are misaligned? 'The Phoenix Project' paints a realistic picture of that situation and describes effectively how an organization can apply best practice to overcome this challenge. The authors have not only provided an effective way to resolve the challenges facing this organization but did it in a way that is very entertaining, understandable and more importantly, achievable. It was fantastic and I couldn’t stop reading it.” –LJ ‘Butch’ Sheets, Director/Instructor/Practitioner at Service Management Dynamix, LLC

0846902““This book will resonate deeply with anyone in IT Operations. It shows why certain dysfunctions occur between Development, IT Operations and Infosec, as well as how to stop them. "The Phoenix Project" is a fun read and an effective business parable that explains why we need DevOps now.”” –Sascha Bates, DevOps Enthusiast, Automator of Things

“The Phoenix Project will re-frame thinking about information systems management and its importance to any modern organization, just as The Goal did to operations and systems management.  This book is a must read for all my IS students!” –Dr. Daniel C. Phelps, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar

3a49486“'The Phoenix Project' is not only entertaining, but challenged many of my long held beliefs about how to make IT relevant and turn around an organization. Not only did it open my eyes to whole new models of thinking around development, operations and security, but also how these ideas can impact an organization in a positive way. This book will take a place on my shelf of useful sources for my work and research.” –Daniel Blander, President of Techtonica

“Read this book. If you're in IT and want to be relevant, do interesting work, and be paid well, you must read this book. If you're not an IT person and want to improve your business' bottom line, you must read this book. As our protagonist discovered, "... when IT fails, the business fails. It stands to reason that if IT is organized so that it can win, the business wins too." You can run IT in an organized, predictable way, and The Phoenix Project takes the reader on a fun ride throughout the business from IT Ops, to Development, to InfoSec, to DevOps, to Sales, Marketing, Finance, Retail, and the boardroom. You'll learn that it's all one big, connected system, and that to win you've got to think and work like a manufacturing plant manager. Wrap your head around that.” –Becki True, Director of Engineering Operations at Mosaic451

Tom McAndrew Photo-2“More than just an educational novel, it's a gripping story which is filled with people, problems, and situations that you'll immediately recognize.  Everyone will walk away with a new perspective to some of the most challenging IT problems.  The Phoenix Project is a transcending story that is applicable for everyone including CEO's and CFO's just learning to spell "IT" to the technical IT guru's that have been living IT their whole lives.” –Tom McAndrew EVP, Coalfire Federal Services

prPhoto“The more I talk with Gene and the more I read his work, the more of a true-believer I become. Given that I've already started applying and sharing the DevOps lessons with my team and my leadership, I'm doing my part. If saving US$ 2 trillion and improving 1 million lives sounds compelling to you then get ready, order the book and pass along the message — DevOps is here to help us all, we only have to be open to unlearning some of our current ways and trying some new ones.” –Stephen Fishman, Director - Application Architecture & Engineering at

void(0)“Add The Phoenix Project to your short-list of favorite business books and even shorter-list of “must read” books on IT. The story is chock full of “IT fail” scenarios to which most IT professionals and business stakeholders can relate. Fundamental causes and constraints that keep many IT organizations inefficient, ineffective and “stuck” are exposed throughout. The pioneering authors provide clues and guidance for improvements and changes that benefit the individual/employee, the IT organization and the business supported by IT.” –John Dennin, Management Consultant & Senior Engagement Manager Assemblage Pointe

0f59497“You will be caught between laughter and tears as you see yourself, those you work with, and the obstacles you've faced revealed within these pages. But fear not, with each tuft of hair torn from your aching skull you will come one step closer to satori. This book is a masterclass in effortless IT.” –Robert DiFalco, Cofounder of Wai, Inc.

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We won’t share, sell or spam you. –Gene Kim