The Unicorn Project
A Novel about Developers, Digital Disruption, and Thriving in the Age of Data
Coming November 26, 2019!
This highly anticipated follow-up to the bestselling title The Phoenix Project takes another look at Parts Unlimited from the perspective of Maxine, a senior lead developer and architect, as she is exiled to the Phoenix Project. This is a story about rebel developers and business leaders working together and racing against time to innovate, survive, and thrive in a time of unprecedented uncertainty...and opportunity.
The Five Ideals
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
Praise for The Unicorn Project
“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
“What are developers’ two typical experiences? Frustration, fatigue, anxiety, and aggravation when nothing comes together like it should and projects run late, over budget, and under promise. The Unicorn Project gives an empathetic over-the-shoulder look at how a peer can escape these too familiar circumstances, and 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.
“What I loved about The Phoenix Project is that it made me feel not alone. Reading that story, I closely identified with the experiences the characters were having in the software development process. In The Unicorn Project, he’s written another cure for the forsaken tech managerial nerd. And this time he’s extended to another whole group in the world of technology—those who deal with data, analytics, reports, and predictive models. Anyone working with software or data analytics will feel a kinship to the characters and the problems the teams encounter in The Unicorn Project, and will cheer them on as they apply the Dev and DataOps best practices to succeed. It’s scary how close the characters, dialog, and situations are to what we daily experience. Is Gene listening in to our beer-soaked after-work conversations? I wonder…”
—Christopher Bergh, CEO & Head Chef, DataKitchen
“I heavily enjoyed every chapter of The Unicorn Project. While The Phoenix Project was more focused on the process and ways of working, Unicorn gets into technical details and the phases that every company has faced or will face during its Digital Transformation. It made me remember every step we’ve gone through at Adidas in the last four years. From maturing our software practices to starting the journey in democratizing our Data. The book will for sure be loved by technology experts, but should be made mandatory for every CXO and board member in the organization. In the Age of Software and Data, technology awareness is for them as important as finance and market knowledge. I’m amazingly surprised how Gene has been able to extract the reality of Enterprises at every level (from Engineering to CXO) without working actively in one of them. I assume this is what makes him a great researcher. As the book outlines, the biggest revolutions always come from the ground. It’s the job of management to keep them engaged, to listen proactively, and to get out of their way. Every company should have their Dockside bar where magic happens!”
—Fernando Cornago, Senior Director Platform Engineering, Adidas
“In the tradition of The Phoenix Project, we follow Maxine and her colleagues as they work to salvage a critical project in time for Black Friday. The Unicorn Project puts you right in the middle of the action during a major technology refactor, building relationships with stakeholders, and ultimately understanding which applications bring value to the enterprise. I was reminded of many of the hurdles we’ve navigated during our own digital transformation.”
—Scott Nasello, Director, Delivery Engineering, Columbia Sportswear
“If you read The Phoenix Project and wondered if the author had been following you around at work, then The Unicorn Project is going to give you a sense of deja vu.”
—Erica Morrison, Executive Director of Software Engineering, CSG
“If you liked The Phoenix Project, you will absolutely fall in love with The Unicorn Project. This is the other side of the story that you need to fully understand modernized DevOps processes.”
—Dr. Branden R. Williams, Technology Executive
“The Unicorn Project is an entertaining glimpse below deck of the chaotic IT ship and provides guidance on how to get everyone rowing together.”
—Josh Atwell, Sr. Technology Advocate, Splunk
“The Unicorn Project takes you on a fun and imaginative journey into some of the most difficult IT and business challenges we face today. The project may be mythical, but the lessons and ideals encountered will provide real help to any leader seeking to unleash powerful potential within their organization. This should be required reading for any student, IT professional, or business leader who is serious about tackling data-driven digital disruption, customer focus, and workforce empowerment to deliver business value faster, better, safer, and happier.”
—Jason A. Cox, Director of Platform Engineering & SRE
“A bona fide digital transformation, one that makes a worthy difference in customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and cash flow, is a hard-fought victory through a gauntlet of agonizing battles. Wins, losses, and the unexpected are inevitable, and true grit—a combination of passion, courage, and perseverance—is required. The Unicorn Project is the organizational civil-war novel that every technology and business trailblazer must read.”
—Christopher O’Malley, President and CEO, Compuware
“DevOps fans around the world rejoice! The Unicorn Project fills in all the gaps that The Phoenix Project never got to cover! Automated QA, loose coupling and APIs, democratized access, psychological safety, balancing current work with innovation, and more. It’s all in there! Do yourself a favor and read this now to know where your practice should head next.”
—Stephen Fishman, Director Customer Success Architecture, MuleSoft a Salesforce Company
“Just as The Phoenix Project introduced the Three Ways, The Unicorn Project introduces us to the Five Ideals. By illustrating how these underlying principles enable a small group of rebels to drive meaningful organizational change, Gene is providing us with a blueprint to follow in our own organizations.”
—Scott Stockton, Regional Vice President, Sonatype
“Every company going through a digital transformation needs to make this a must-read for all leaders. Not only will they recognize and empathize with the struggles of Maxine and team, they will also find insights for success with the Five Ideals. This book gives a roadmap to the type of rebellion every organization wishes for.”
—Courtney Kissler, VP, Global Technology, NIKE, Inc.
“The Unicorn Project is an inspired followup to The Phoenix Project, telling the same events from the perspective of technical contributors and digging much more deeply into key questions of team dynamics, leadership, automation, and misguided governance. Readers working in real-world IT or digital organizations will again find themselves nodding and grimacing in recognition that as an industry we have a long way to go; fortunately, Gene is continuing to light the way.”
—Charles Betz, Principal Analyst and Global DevOps Lead, Forrester Research
“Want to win in the digital economy? Read The Unicorn Project and take the bold steps framed in the Five Ideals and watch your people become your game-changers.”
—Raj Fowler, Principal Consultant, DevOpsGroup
“In The Phoenix Project, Gene Kim clarified the what and why of DevOps. Now his latest book, The Unicorn Project, clarifies the what and why of digital transformation. Being great at DevOps without focusing on the customer means that you can be excellent at something that doesn’t matter.”
—Jeffrey Snover, Technical Fellow, Microsoft
“The Unicorn Project is so real it’s sometimes difficult to remember that our heroes are fictional characters. Every step they take as they transform Parts Unlimited — removing red tape, replacing fragile legacy systems, and tightening feedback loops — is true to life. A wonderful page turner full of immediately applicable wisdom.”
—Elisabeth Hendrickson, VP R&D, Pivotal Software, Inc.
Additional Book Info
This highly anticipated follow-up to the bestselling title The Phoenix Project takes another look at Parts Unlimited, this time from the perspective of software development. With The Phoenix Project we learned about the Three Ways. Now with The Unicorn Project, Gene Kim introduces the Five Ideals.
In The Unicorn Project, we follow Maxine, a senior lead developer and architect, as she is exiled to the Phoenix Project, to the horror of her friends and colleagues, as punishment for contributing to a payroll outage. She tries to survive in what feels like a heartless and uncaring bureaucracy and to work within a system where no one can get anything done without endless committees, paperwork, and approvals.
One day, she is approached by a ragtag bunch of misfits who say they want to overthrow the existing order, to liberate developers, to bring joy back to technology work, and to enable the business to win in a time of digital disruption. To her surprise, she finds herself drawn ever further into this movement, eventually becoming one of the leaders of the Rebellion, which puts her in the crosshairs of some familiar and very dangerous enemies.
The Age of Software is here, and another mass extinction event looms—this is a story about rebel developers and business leaders working together, racing against time to innovate, survive, and thrive in a time of unprecedented uncertainty…and opportunity.
Gene Kim is a multi-award winning CTO, researcher, and author. He is the founder of Tripwire and served as CTO for thirteen years. His books include the bestselling The Phoenix Project and The DevOps Handbook, the highly anticipated The Unicorn Project (coming 2019), as well as Beyond the Phoenix Project, Accelerate, The Visible Ops Handbook, and Visible Ops Security.
Gene is a huge fan of IT operations and how it can enable developers to maximize throughput of features from “code complete” to “in production” without causing chaos and disruption to the IT environment. He has worked with some of the top Internet companies on improving deployment flow and increasing the rigor around IT operational processes. In 2007, ComputerWorld added Gene to the “40 Innovative IT People to Watch Under the Age of 40” list, and he was named a Computer Science Outstanding Alumnus by Purdue University for achievement and leadership in the profession.
Hardcover ISBN: 9781942788768
eBook ISBN: 9781942788775 (epub); 9781942788782 (Kindle)
Audiobook ISBN: 9781942788805