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March 2, 2018

Beyond The Phoenix Project: Modules 7 & 8 – The Panel & Case Studies

By Gene Kim

Earlier this week, I wrote about the first six modules of Beyond The Phoenix Project, along with excerpts from each — this is from the nine hours of recorded audio that John Willis and I created, summarizing hundreds of hours of research into the bodies of knowledge that DevOps draws most heavily upon.

(By the way, we’ve gotten an update —  Beyond The Phoenix Project will be available on Audible and iTunes sometime next week.)

Today, I want to tell you about the remaining modules: The Panel and Case Studies.

John Willis posted on Twitter yesterday, “Working on Beyond The Phoenix Project has definitely been a highlight of my career.”  I have similar feelings of awe and appreciation — hopefully, when I tell you about these modules, you’ll understand why I’m so proud to be associated with this project.

Module 7: The Panel

Throughout the week, I’ve described the shoulders of giants that the DevOps movement is standing upon, including Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt, Dr. W. Edwards Deming, as well as the Lean and Safety Culture movements.

As aspiring students of both Lean and Safety Culture, John and I observed that there seemed to be many commonalities between these two movements, such as the need for psychological safety, a scientific method for improvement daily work, systems thinking, and so forth. However, instead of these movements seeing the other as mutually supportive bodies of knowledge, they seemed to view the other with suspicion or even in diametric opposition.

Over the last four years, John and I have had the privilege of interacting with many of the most influential thinkers from these two movements. In 2017, John and I filmed a half-day panel with Dr. Richard Cook and Dr. Sidney Dekker from the Safety Culture movement, and Dr. Steven Spear from the Lean movement.

As John will tell you, on the one hand it was amazing to see such an intellectual tour de force of argumentation, citing philosophy, physics, management and social sciences, medicine, ethics, economics, and even theology. On the other hand, it was at times a pretty stressful and wild ride, and at one point, John and I wondered whether we should have let this stay buried in the desert, so vehement was the discussion.

However, by the end, it was clear that many principles and values span both Lean and safety culture. I can’t think of a better demonstration of this than the 30 minute public panel I moderated with Dr. Cook, Dr. Dekker and Dr. Spear at DevOps Enterprise Summit 2017. I agree with my friend Charles Betz, who said, “This panel will go down in history as a watershed moment for the digital profession. Notable, in the fullest sense of the word.”

In Module 7, John and I discuss how that amazing day came together, we play the 30 minute panel, and then share some of our favorite moments from that day. (Listen to the 30 minute excerpt HERE)

Module 8: Case Studies

In this module, John and I talk about our favorite stories of transformational leadership from the DevOps Enterprise community. I had mentioned earlier that I feel awe and appreciation for being associated with this project — so much of it is because I’ve gotten to learn from so many remarkable people who are pioneering the practices that will undoubtedly become mainstream decades from now.

We talk about Courtney Kissler, and her pioneering work when she was heading up technology for most of Nordstrom, and we reflect on her stories through the lens of the learning organization; we talk about Heather Mickman and Ross Clanton about their heroic work bringing DevOps to Target, the transformational leadership characteristics they continually modeled through sharing, risk taking, technical excellence, and so much more.

We talk about Scott Prugh and the amazing work his team has done at CSG, and specifically about some of the breathtaking work they’ve done bringing modern technical practices and technology to their mainframe applications, which have been built up over four decades. We talk about Jeffrey Snover and the heroic five-year journey of bringing command-line to Windows, which we all now know as PowerShell. We talk about his coalition building, the need for composability in pipelines and concept of monads, and his tireless work of helping Operations survive and thrive in this transition to automation.

We also discuss why we believe we’re at the earliest stages of a decades-long economic golden age, of which DevOps will be a contributor to, based on the work of Dr. Carlota Perez, often referred to as the “deployment age.”  Specifically, we discuss how we believe that the majority of value DevOps will create won’t be in the “FAANGs” (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google), but instead, will be in the largest brands in every industry vertical, in large, complex organizations that have been around for decades (or even centuries).

Lastly, John and I talk about why we are both so excited and optimistic about the DevOps movement, because at its core, DevOps is a community first and foremost about learning.  (Listen to the 15 minute excerpt of Module 8 HERE)

Stay tuned for when Beyond The Phoenix Project finally goes live on Audible and iTunes — I’ll send an email later with a very special offer when it’s available for purchase!



- About The Authors
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Gene Kim

Gene Kim is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author, researcher, and multiple award-winning CTO. He has been studying high-performing technology organizations since 1999 and was the founder and CTO of Tripwire for 13 years. He is the author of six books, The Unicorn Project (2019), and co-author of the Shingo Publication Award winning Accelerate (2018), The DevOps Handbook (2016), and The Phoenix Project (2013). Since 2014, he has been the founder and organizer of DevOps Enterprise Summit, studying the technology transformations of large, complex organizations.

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