Skip to content

September 25, 2019

Announcing The Unicorn Project, Availability of First Excerpt, And The Five Ideals!

By Gene Kim

I’m so pleased to announce that The Unicorn Project will be released in all forms (hardcover, ebook, and audio) on November 26, 2019. I’m so excited that over the next couple of months I’ll be posting at least weekly on topics covered in the book or topics that have intrigued and captivated me over the last 2+ years.

In this post, I’ll cover the following:

  • What is The Unicorn Project and why should I read it?
  • The Five Ideals
  • Availability of the first excerpt!

What is The Unicorn Project and Why Should I Read It?

The Unicorn Project retells the story of The Phoenix Project from the perspective of development and architecture. It explores the invisible structures that are required to make developers (and all engineers) productive, which is absolutely required for the initiatives they work on to achieve their goals. It is about technical debt and the incredible damage it creates, as well as how we create the opposite conditions—an architecture that enables developers to quickly, independently, and safely develop, test, and deliver value to customers, and where we are continually focused on elevating developer productivity.

What makes this problem so insidious is that architecture and the systems that developers rely on for their daily work are invisible. Everyone can see features, or the application. Therefore, they are easy to fund. However, far less visible are the APIs and architectures those features rely on, as well as the processes and infrastructure that developers need to get their daily work done.

This book is also about rebellion and coalition-building, and about how small teams are able to achieve all the amazing outcomes described in The Phoenix Project, despite seemingly endless resistance from powerful, entrenched functional silos. These are stories about about transformational leadership and courage, which are very much inspired by the heroic journeys I’ve had the privilege of observing and studying for the last seven years within the DevOps enterprise community. 

This book also examines the problems posed by data, and what is required to actually use it to solve our most pressing business problems. Digital disruption requires us to understand our customers, and is greatly aided by data we already have, which we need to manipulate, transform, and safely allow teams to use. 

So much of the genesis of the DevOps movement was to address the huge problems of getting code into production. These days, there is an orthogonal problem of getting data from where it resides (often trapped in data warehouses) to where it can be used by teams to help their organizations win in the marketplace. I’m hoping that this book conclusively demonstrates to all that data is ultimately a software effort, and can be massively helped by DevOps principles and patterns.

Some of My Favorite Quotes about The Unicorn Project:

“Every company going through a digital transformation needs to make this a must-read for all leaders.”—Courtney Kissler, VP Global Technology, NIKE, Inc.

“Gene Kim does a masterful job of showing how a dynamic, discovery-oriented approach to technology transformation can combine the efforts of many to create lasting business advantages for all.”—Dr. Steve Spear, author of The High-Velocity Edge, Sr. Lecturer at MIT, and principal of HVE LLC.

The Unicorn Project is amazing, and I loved it 100 times more than The Phoenix Project….It made me remember every step we’ve gone through at adidas in the last 4 years.”—Fernando Cornago, Senior Director Platform Engineering, adidas

“As important as The Phoenix Project was for managing organizational change, The Unicorn Project is for the vast majority of us who actually solve problems. This book provides a vision for software engineers for generations to come.”—Dr. Tom Longstaff, Chief Technology Officer, Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute

The Unicorn Project is the organizational civil-war novel that every technology and business trailblazer must read.”—Christopher O’Malley, President and CEO, Compuware

The Unicorn Project clarifies the what and why of digital transformation.”—Jeffrey Snover, Technical Fellow, Microsoft

The Five Ideals (and a Video)

In The Phoenix Project, we used the constructs of the Three Ways and Four Types of Work to frame some of the important concepts in the book. Similarly, in The Unicorn Project, I use the Five Ideals to frame what I think are the most important problems facing engineering and business today:

  • The First Ideal—Locality and Simplicity 
  • The Second Ideal—Focus, Flow, and Joy
  • The Third Ideal—Improvement of Daily Work
  • The Fourth Ideal—Psychological Safety
  • The Fifth Ideal—Customer Focus

Over the next several weeks as we release more of the excerpts, I’ll talk about each of the ideals, and share several personal stories that convinced me why they are so important.

(For those of you who can’t wait, you can find a 30-minute video here of my Portland DevOpsDays talk on this. Not only was I introduced by the amazing Alice Goldfuss (@alicegoldfuss), but it is the first time I’ve talked about The Five Ideals externally. You can also find my slides here:



Download Excerpt #1 of The Unicorn Project

Over the next several weeks, we will be releasing excerpts of The Unicorn Project. To download the first 58-page excerpt, click here:

Stay Tuned!

As I mentioned, I’ll be posting many more articles here (as well as on the IT Revolution Facebook page) at least weekly on topics relevant to The Unicorn Project—so stay tuned!

And the next excerpt will be posted in about a week!  Please feel free to share what you thought of the book on Twitter or LinkedIn — just @mention me.  I’m @realgenekim.


- About The Authors
Avatar photo

Gene Kim

Award winning CTO, researcher, and author.

Follow Gene on Social Media

No comments found

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Jump to Section

    More Like This

    Lanyards, Icebergs, and Mario: Lightning Talks from DOES Las Vegas 2022
    By Lucy Softich

    One of our favorite events at DevOps Enterprise Summit is the Lightning Talks. In…

    An Automated Governance Superhighway: A Story of Changing the Game to Achieve Your Goals
    By IT Revolution , Michael Edenzon , John Rzeszotarski

    It's okay not to be a perfect steward of DevOps, especially in highly regulated…

    The Frictionless Dev Experience
    By David Anderson , Mark McCann , Michael O’Reilly

    This post is excerpted from The Value Flywheel Effect: Power the Future and Accelerate…

    Sustainability in Software
    By David Anderson , Mark McCann , Michael O’Reilly

    This post is excerpted from The Value Flywheel Effect: Power the Future and Accelerate…