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The Unicorn Project

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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. In The Phoenix Project, Bill, an IT manager at Parts Unlimited, is tasked with a project critical to the future of the business, code named Phoenix Project. But the project is massively over budget and 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. In The Phoenix Project, Bill, an IT manager at Parts Unlimited, is tasked with a project critical to the future of the business, code named Phoenix Project. But the project is massively over budget and behind schedule. The CEO demands Bill fix the mess in ninety days or else Bill's entire department will be outsourced. 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 "red shirt" developers and business leaders working together, racing against time to innovate, survive, and thrive in a time of unprecedented uncertainty...and opportunity.


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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. In The Phoenix Project, Bill, an IT manager at Parts Unlimited, is tasked with a project critical to the future of the business, code named Phoenix Project. But the project is massively over budget and 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. In The Phoenix Project, Bill, an IT manager at Parts Unlimited, is tasked with a project critical to the future of the business, code named Phoenix Project. But the project is massively over budget and behind schedule. The CEO demands Bill fix the mess in ninety days or else Bill's entire department will be outsourced. 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 "red shirt" developers and business leaders working together, racing against time to innovate, survive, and thrive in a time of unprecedented uncertainty...and opportunity.

30 review for The Unicorn Project

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sebastian Gebski

    Great idea (re-utilized tbh), brilliant principles, but not a great book. What did I like? - the general "stage" was set quite well - easy to grasp & understand the problems, credible & "realistic" - some of the comparisons (e.g. to "redshirts" were brilliant & hilarious :>) - I likes "sensei" quotations - they may have felt a bit out of place, but they were very valuable in a context - my fav. one was about horizons - I really believe this book can have its effect - I mean: be more Great idea (re-utilized tbh), brilliant principles, but not a great book. What did I like? - the general "stage" was set quite well - easy to grasp & understand the problems, credible & "realistic" - some of the comparisons (e.g. to "redshirts" were brilliant & hilarious :>) - I likes "sensei" quotations - they may have felt a bit out of place, but they were very valuable in a context - my fav. one was about horizons - I really believe this book can have its effect - I mean: be more thought-provoking for certain class of individuals than any other one What didn't I like? - oversimplifications - not in terms of WHAT to do (there's a good balance here), but in terms of how certain obstacles/impediments are hard to get through - the biggest challenges in the book (incl. re-writing the most messed parts of the software) were beaten in a week or so: reality is NOT like that. I'm not saying "rebellion" should not do what they did - I'm saying this book can build false expectations (e.g. in non-tech executives) that rhinos can be turned into unicorns within a month or so - in terms of word-crafting it's just artisan work - it doesn't tire the reader down, but I wouldn't call it "fun to read" - there were about 3 moments of max. naivety with "cargo cult-like" statements (about FP, "Panter", etc.) which appeared almost ... childish Nevertheless - this IS an important book. Another piece in a wide education set for all the IT professionals around the word. It's not perfect, yet it's one of the best pieces of weaponry we have - and for that I'm thankful. 4.2-4.5 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    I wanted to like this story a lot more than I did... What resonated for me with The Phoenix Project, and later The Goal, seemed to be largely missing when I read The Unicorn Project. Some of it may have been due to already having been exposed to many of the concepts of the book, but the storyline and characters also seemed more forced than it could have been... The Phoenix Project was largely generic enough that I would readily feel comfortable recommending it to those not directly in the IT I wanted to like this story a lot more than I did... What resonated for me with The Phoenix Project, and later The Goal, seemed to be largely missing when I read The Unicorn Project. Some of it may have been due to already having been exposed to many of the concepts of the book, but the storyline and characters also seemed more forced than it could have been... The Phoenix Project was largely generic enough that I would readily feel comfortable recommending it to those not directly in the IT sector, I'm not sure I feel the same way with The Unicorn Project. Lastly, I was disappointed with the quality of the both the Audible and Kindle version of the book. With the Kindle version, there were many typos (doubled words, wrong words, etc.) that were slightly distracting. Some additional editing would have been nice. With the audiobook, the narration audio was distractingly jarring... Maybe the initial recordings were done prior to extensive re-writes and lines had to be changed or added last-minute...? No clue what led to the poor final product, but it was annoying...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jakub

    I did have quite high expectation's from this book. Looking at The Pheonix Project and DevOps Handbook I thought this will be HUGE. and it was, but disappointment. Firstly, with PP I could identify myself with problem and solution. I was trying to find a solution to the problem that Bill was having. It was really engaging and educational. Here it was hard to identify with anyone in the book. Rebellion to save a company, working against everyone. I wasn't and I'm still not sure what this book is I did have quite high expectation's from this book. Looking at The Pheonix Project and DevOps Handbook I thought this will be HUGE. and it was, but disappointment. Firstly, with PP I could identify myself with problem and solution. I was trying to find a solution to the problem that Bill was having. It was really engaging and educational. Here it was hard to identify with anyone in the book. Rebellion to save a company, working against everyone. I wasn't and I'm still not sure what this book is about. Cheering devs? Having fun of writing code? Pushing to prod? Doing everything for the customer? Of course, there is lots of truth in the book. however, we need to pick/find/extract the truth as readers, and it's not part of the story. This book would be 5-star book if it would be thought through before writing IT and created like The Goal or The Pheonix Project.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bjoern Rochel

    Wow, where do I start with this one? The Unicorn Project is a book that I immediately bought, once I heard of its existence. I loved The Phoenix Project, dug deeper by reading a lot of Goldratts books and subsequently also enjoyed The DevOps handbook and Accelerate. I expected to fall in love with this book, like I did with The Phoenix Project and The Goal. Turns out I didn't, at least as a novel, even though the core messages of the book resonate with me. What I didn't like specifically: 1. They Wow, where do I start with this one? The Unicorn Project is a book that I immediately bought, once I heard of its existence. I loved The Phoenix Project, dug deeper by reading a lot of Goldratts books and subsequently also enjoyed The DevOps handbook and Accelerate. I expected to fall in love with this book, like I did with The Phoenix Project and The Goal. Turns out I didn't, at least as a novel, even though the core messages of the book resonate with me. What I didn't like specifically: 1. They massively changed the stylistic formula used in the previous books and at least for me it works against the book. While previously we had protagonists, who where completely out of their league, the new protagonist Maxine is already an expert developer and in most cases pretty much knew how to do it better, citing principles, books etc. along the way. Also her sidekick Kurt pretty much knew what they wanted to achieve from the first pages in the book. The role of the external coach Eric (or his equivalent Jonah in The Goal) consequently has been reduced from an impulse giver to a better sidekick and gone are the big "aha" moments of the original books when their protagonists reason about hints and metaphors used by the external coach and slowly reach their own conclusions. What comes to mind here is for example how in The Goal the protagonist Alex Rogo slowly discovers "Drum-Buffer-Rope" while experimenting with different ways to keep a group of boy scouts together on a hiking trip, especially when one of the kids can't keep up with the rest of the group. In contrast this book is largely about fighting company politics and the "aha" moments have been replaced with an - what feels to me like an - "In your face" approach, where Maxine constantly talks and thinks unlike any "real" human being, churning out opinionated tech wisdom and best practices like a machine gun on every opportunity. I've worked with plenty of great technical colleagues in my career, also hardcore, tech-savy introverts and I can guarantee you, no-one talked like this, ever. Also why does Eric reference every external impulse giver as "Sensei", like "Sensei Hickey" or "Sensey Moore". He didn't do that in the The Phoenix Project and to me it just felt awkward and cringe-worthy. Speaking about being opinionated, I like Functional Programming, I also like (at least conceptually) Clojure, but being constantly reminded that FP and Clojure are awesome started to feel at some point like fan service to these developer communities. Again too much "in your face" for me. 2. Compared to The Goal, the whole story feels surprisingly less human During these frantic times of a business where so much is changing, everything is fluid and the stakes are high, the personal life of employees usually takes a toll, especially if they're the ones pushing for change. If you work constantly under stress and work long hours it will affect your life. Goldratts original novel emphasised this by also showing how that big turn-around affected Alex Rogo's relationship with his family. This aspect is completely absent from this book. Instead Maxine constantly meets with her gang in a bar. I think it's a pity, because real life at least to me feels not like this and had they taken a page out of Goldratts book, I would have sympathised more with this. 3. It feels already a bit dated I don't know whether this is because of where I've worked for the majority of the last decade, but a lot of the depiction of IT in Parts Unlimited feels like its from 15 to 20 years ago to me. No deployable build, no CI, etc. That's probably intentional to make the point, but I've never seen something like this in my career (which started in 2004). Looking also at the DORA report (https://cloud.google.com/blog/product...) the industry as a whole is moving faster and faster. So while this kind of IT transformation might have been leading to a competitive edge in 2013 (when The Phoenix Project came out), I'm not so sure this is still the case in 2020 (at least judging by the DORA report). What was elite back then, is pretty much normal for a larger group of companies now and that group continues to grow. 4. Autonomy is great, but what about alignment? Having seen problems with autonomous teams at scale, I would have loved to hear something about the next challenges that you'd naturally encounter when you structure your engineering efforts into autonomous teams. Maintaining flow and alignment is not an easy feat from my experience and I had hoped that they would also delve a bit into that (other than Maxines new job description at the end). What I did like: 1. The 5 ideals make a lot of sense to me and join neatly with other ideas such as the 3 ways from The Phoenix Project or the 5 Focussing Steps from The Goal. 2. The idea of doing front-line training close to the customers is great 3. The general theme of the book that developers can be trusted and if met on eye level can be a source for tremendous innovation for the business All-in-all 3 stars is probably a bit harsh, and 4 stars would be a better match (because of the content), but for me a lot of the stylistic choices took away a lot of what made The Phoenix Project and The Goal great.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joel Bastos

    Like its predecessor "The Phoenix Project", this book dwells on the transformation required for companies to achieve sustained velocity and quality relying on communication and data-driven decisions. Although the timeline is pretty much the same as "The Phoenix Project", this time, the perspective is of the development and business. I can relate with several signals of broken organizations, like silos, over-complicated processes and blameful culture. As most of my career was spent on operations Like its predecessor "The Phoenix Project", this book dwells on the transformation required for companies to achieve sustained velocity and quality relying on communication and data-driven decisions. Although the timeline is pretty much the same as "The Phoenix Project", this time, the perspective is of the development and business. I can relate with several signals of broken organizations, like silos, over-complicated processes and blameful culture. As most of my career was spent on operations (although in the book the line between operations and IT is stretched way too thin), I also understand very well the impact of developers owning their software in production. Similarly, the systems engineering teams being able to understand applications and improving the tooling, providing their services as a platform for a self-service approach, are mandatory for bridging the gap between dev and ops. So, the story depicted is plausible and above all, entertaining. I truly enjoyed the fact of some of my favourite books being mentioned, which I do recommend everyone to read: * Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal * Transforming NOKIA by Risto Siilasmaa * Redshirts by John Scalzi But there were things I did not appreciate and broke the flow of the book. There's an unhealthy functional programming overload, depicting it as the holy grail of software engineering, as one knows, tools are just a part of a solution. The character Maxine having god-like powers and moving from operations to software development, product and management effortlessly is also quite the stretch. People without a background in this kind of scenarios will definitely enjoy this book much more than I did because of the issues mentioned above.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Yoly

    This book’s predecessor, The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win introduced me to DevOps in 2013, and while I was looking forward to learning new things about software development with this one, sadly, I can’t say that I did, but I still enjoyed it a lot. It was part horror story, part “I see this happen every day” and even part comedy, it made me roll my eyes (in a good way!) many times. It was very entertaining in a geeky kind of way. I can certainly This book’s predecessor, The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win introduced me to DevOps in 2013, and while I was looking forward to learning new things about software development with this one, sadly, I can’t say that I did, but I still enjoyed it a lot. It was part horror story, part “I see this happen every day” and even part comedy, it made me roll my eyes (in a good way!) many times. It was very entertaining in a geeky kind of way. I can certainly identify with the main character, Maxine, although I’m not sure if that’s a good thing :) I hope there is a third book, focused on data and AI or something along those lines. The narrator was very good, but some parts appeared to be re-recorded and those came out sounding kind of weird and inconsistent with the rest of the audio, making it very distracting. The audiobook could have been better produced.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Julian Dunn

    I read The Phoenix Project back in 2012 or so, near the beginning of the DevOps movement, and I couldn't put it down. As someone who had spent most of his career up to that point in mostly-horrible operations roles, many of the horror stories and high-pressure scenarios -- not to mention typical stifling enterprise bureaucracies -- resonated with me deeply. In the 7 years since I first read it, I've recommended the book to countless people, both technical and non-technical, as a way to I read The Phoenix Project back in 2012 or so, near the beginning of the DevOps movement, and I couldn't put it down. As someone who had spent most of his career up to that point in mostly-horrible operations roles, many of the horror stories and high-pressure scenarios -- not to mention typical stifling enterprise bureaucracies -- resonated with me deeply. In the 7 years since I first read it, I've recommended the book to countless people, both technical and non-technical, as a way to understand and empathize with those poor souls stuck inside the dysfunction of traditional IT organizations. The problem with a book so impactful is that any sequel is likely to disappoint. The Unicorn Project is a good -- but not great -- take on many of the same technical and business issues in The Phoenix Project, but from a different angle, that of software development. The main character, Maxine Chambers, is supposedly a one-woman superhero who can effortlessly go from rewriting ten developers' 15-year-old spaghetti code into 50 lines of Clojure in an afternoon, all the way to having business-level conversations about strategy (and layoffs) with the CEO. Not only does this seem implausible, but by necessity, the roles of many of the other characters are minimized. I couldn't remember who Kurt, Shannon, Wes, etc. were, much less what areas they were supposedly responsible for, because Maxine is made out to be the person behind them all. Two of the factors that made The Phoenix Project so compelling and readable were a) the fact that it was based on an existing work, Eliyahu M. Goldratt's The Goal, and b) the dialogue was crisp, direct, and fast-paced. To the first element: While Kim has made a reasonable attempt to explain agile and Lean software development practices in this book, there is no one single source for this information, and his synthesis of a lot of different ideas sometimes ends up being muddled. The character of Erik doesn't get the same play as in The Phoenix Project, and I think the book suffers for that. A bigger problem is that Kim lets his passion for technology get in the way of the narrative. There are way too many technical details that don't drive the plot forward, and Kim's personal advocacy of functional programming languages creeps into the story line without a particularly good reason. At best, it hampers the flow; at worst, it is unnecessary dogma that makes Clojure sound like a panacea for developer velocity acceleration. Which is exactly why so many regular (imperative or object-oriented developers) find functional developers so annoying: Clojure is like the CrossFit of programming. (The first rule of functional programming is to always be talking about functional programming.) All of this makes me wonder whether this book could have been better had Kim co-authored it, like he did the first, with Kevin Behr and George Spafford (or others). Having collaborators -- or a good editor -- tends to help rein in an author's worst impulses. Zooming out, there's nothing fundamentally wrong with the book. Kim describes how modern software product teams should operate, teaches the reader about the guiding principles behind practical agile (being agile rather than just "doing" agile), and throws in a bit of best practices on large-scale distributed systems design to boot. It's possible that my criticisms stem from the fact that I know this space very well, so my eye is drawn to detailed flaws. If you don't have expertise in these topics, the book is definitely worth a read. But if you've already been living and breathing this stuff, you can give it a pass.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kirill

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A pretty nice novel and a long awaited sequel. Good illustration of must-know-and-follow principles that became industry standards in the last decade. Despite I thoroughly enjoyed the story flow, there are a couple of reasons why I would not recommend the book to a colleague. And would definitely not recommend to someone just starting his or her endeavour in IT. The picture of the Parts Unlimited Inc is hardly realistic. I cannot beleive there could be real examples of such companies nowadays A pretty nice novel and a long awaited sequel. Good illustration of must-know-and-follow principles that became industry standards in the last decade. Despite I thoroughly enjoyed the story flow, there are a couple of reasons why I would not recommend the book to a colleague. And would definitely not recommend to someone just starting his or her endeavour in IT. The picture of the Parts Unlimited Inc is hardly realistic. I cannot beleive there could be real examples of such companies nowadays where even small software change take years to get delivered. Even less realistic would be a successful effort to make such company to an industry leader in a course of few months. I am not fan of dystopias, especially not, when the high-valued business- and IT-principles can be interpreted utopic in such context. Another grain of salt is the impression one could get about a work/life balance in IT. It seems that working long hours till you get sick is a norm and if you are really going to make a difference, then from the sickbed you must reach for the laptop to bring your ideas forwards. It should not matter what weekday of daytime it is, your first prio is the business need and the family should be okay with the second position. Maybe there are some cultural differencies between US and EU companies, which I - as an European - do not understand. But there are also counter examples from Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson demonstrating lack of correlation between business success and high level of stress. Aiming for a burnout should not be praise, even in a novel. To wrap up - Gene Kim is a brillian entrepreneur and author. The DevOps Handbook is the best summary for the mentioned ideas. In this sense The Unicorn Project is an interesting book, but not the first choice. Maybe even not the second.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ben Goldin

    I liked the story a lot as well as the level of details on many topics. This is the great book for organisation who are at the start of their (devops transformation) journey. There are obviously few things that work differently in the real life, for instance, it is just a great co-incidence that Parts Unlimited had MRP division that was already advanced in the way they did things. Usually that is not the case. It is also unusual to have people with the competence and the experience in modern and I liked the story a lot as well as the level of details on many topics. This is the great book for organisation who are at the start of their (devops transformation) journey. There are obviously few things that work differently in the real life, for instance, it is just a great co-incidence that Parts Unlimited had MRP division that was already advanced in the way they did things. Usually that is not the case. It is also unusual to have people with the competence and the experience in modern and agile software engineering practices, that are still around in the company that is fundamentally dysfunctional :) The would probably leave way before rebellion would have been established.

  10. 5 out of 5

    João Quitério

    A good follow-up to The Phoenix Project that takes place at the same time but it's now focused on the development team as opposed to the operations/IT team. What I really enjoy in these books and that that they focus on mindset, organization, and practices, instead of technology which in my experience is the hardest and most impactful change in any organization. The timeframe of the changes and their impact doesn't always seem reasonable but I don't think that diminishes the value of the A good follow-up to The Phoenix Project that takes place at the same time but it's now focused on the development team as opposed to the operations/IT team. What I really enjoy in these books and that that they focus on mindset, organization, and practices, instead of technology which in my experience is the hardest and most impactful change in any organization. The timeframe of the changes and their impact doesn't always seem reasonable but I don't think that diminishes the value of the insights, you just needs to manage the expectations while implementing this transformation in your organization ;)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Phil Tomson

    The target audience of this novel is software development professionals. If you aren't involved in software development you're not going to get a lot of the terminology. For those in the target audience don't think that this is an escape novel. It has a mission - It's basically trying to inculcate agile development practices (while also throwing in several plugs for functional programming along the way). And sure, most of those practices it's trying to convince you about are good. Maybe I made The target audience of this novel is software development professionals. If you aren't involved in software development you're not going to get a lot of the terminology. For those in the target audience don't think that this is an escape novel. It has a mission - It's basically trying to inculcate agile development practices (while also throwing in several plugs for functional programming along the way). And sure, most of those practices it's trying to convince you about are good. Maybe I made the mistake of trying to read this over the holidays. If you've ever been involved in developing software in a sclerotic corporate environment this book will trigger PTSD and it'll feel like you're at work. The heroine of the novel (Maxine) seems to be able to easily untie any technical Gordian Knots thrown her way in an afternoon. She and her merry band of co-conspirators seem to be able to slice through entrenched corporate bureaucracy with just a bit too much ease. It just doesn't come off as very realistic. Sure, they get plenty of push back, but it always gives in. I've got to admit that I gave up about 2/3 of the way through the book. It just seems to ramble on and on. Will our heroes achieve their goal of agilifying a corporation with serious entrenched problems? I suspect they will, I just don't need to keep reading to find out. On top of these deficiencies, the book is full of typos and grammatical errors. Many of the typos would have been easily found with a spell checker. On the plus side, many if not most of the heroes in this book are older engineers (Maxine is 48 IIRC and several of her co-conspirators are in their 50s). It's nice to see positive treatment of tech folks who are older. Bottom line: if you're already convinced about agile practices (and the benefits of functional programming) you can skip this book. If you don't know about them then maybe read something like The Pragmatic Programmer instead.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jack Vinson

    Note: I received an advance review copy. The book is slated to come out in November 2019. This is a business novel, continuing the story that started in the Phoenix Project about a dusty old auto parts company that is struggling with all sorts of sclerotic systems and business processes. And it is about how they take some basic principles born of TOC, Lean, Agile, DevOps, and more and do something fabulous. The story had me hooked pretty early, even having me concerned for the main character - Note: I received an advance review copy. The book is slated to come out in November 2019. This is a business novel, continuing the story that started in the Phoenix Project about a dusty old auto parts company that is struggling with all sorts of sclerotic systems and business processes. And it is about how they take some basic principles born of TOC, Lean, Agile, DevOps, and more and do something fabulous. The story had me hooked pretty early, even having me concerned for the main character - when she felt sick at the actions of others, I felt sick. It’s a good read - a story that shows what can happen if you have just enough courage to do the next right thing. More detail on my blog: https://www.jackvinson.com/blog/2019/...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Nixon

    3.5-3.75 stars This book a manages to be a novel/story AND an excellent “best practices” business book while also showing some key issues and problems with large corporations. If you like business books and novels, you’d like this. This author also references / pulls plot from Red Shirts by Jonathon Scalzi at least four times, so if you liked that book... (I think general scalzi fans would like this as well, even though it’s not science fiction). The one gripe I have is the main character reads 3.5-3.75 stars This book a manages to be a novel/story AND an excellent “best practices” business book while also showing some key issues and problems with large corporations. If you like business books and novels, you’d like this. This author also references / pulls plot from Red Shirts by Jonathon Scalzi at least four times, so if you liked that book... (I think general scalzi fans would like this as well, even though it’s not science fiction). The one gripe I have is the main character reads like an early 30s professional (the narrators voice is probably 33) but randomly there would be a reference to her husband and kids, which stops the record — huh? Where have they been this whole time? And then you think, “so they never see her because she works 24/7, and then you wonder what you missed—is she a lot older or did she have babies in grad school? (Because she doesn’t come across as 30s/40s to begin with and in the tech world/millennials aren’t having their first kid until their 30s) but then you forget they exist (because they never appear) only for another random reference. I think, perhaps, this is the case of a male author not being able to write women accurately

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tõnu Vahtra

    I had high expectations towards this book and was not disappointed. When comparing it with Phoenix Project then I would say that there was more focus on Ops side in the first book while Unicorn project talks more about DEV delivery side (build automation, continuous integration) and also there are less individual characters to identify with (focus is more on overall process). Definitely recommend this book for a more holistic overview of IT organization challenges, how to overcome them and what I had high expectations towards this book and was not disappointed. When comparing it with Phoenix Project then I would say that there was more focus on Ops side in the first book while Unicorn project talks more about DEV delivery side (build automation, continuous integration) and also there are less individual characters to identify with (focus is more on overall process). Definitely recommend this book for a more holistic overview of IT organization challenges, how to overcome them and what are the different conflicting perspectives in different teams (DEV/QA/Ops/Product/Project...) and how to overcome them. While the first book focused around the THREE WAYS of DevOps then this one revolves around The Five Ideals: FIRST: Locality and Simplicity SECOND: Focus, Flow, and Joy THIRD: Improvement of Daily Work FOURTH: Psychological Safety FIFTH: Customer Focus A very important aspect stressed throughout the book is the idea of Psychological Safety. Without the confidence that we can take action and be encouraged to learn from mistakes and successes, people and organizations revert to a blame culture and artificial harmony. From valuing simplicity over complexity I felt deja vu with Netfix culture deck (how complexity increases during the growth of organization and how the "standard" approach is to keep it under control with more processes and regulations). “If you don’t find problems quickly, you end up finding them months later. By then, the problem is lost in all the other changes … so the link between cause and effect disappears without a trace." The main problem with the book was that it felt too short (345 pages), would be happy to read an entire saga of them.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Seanpmcclean McClean

    Have been looking forward to the chance to dive into this book since it came out and finally got the chance. Like it's predecessor, the Pheonix Project, and the Eliyahu Goldratt's The Goal (which I gather in some contexts helped inspire the Pheonix Project), it's a business improvement book masquerading as a fictional story - and I love it for exactly that. The story helps grab and engage people which in turn helps give the concepts, suggestions and ideas context and anchors in your brain. Some Have been looking forward to the chance to dive into this book since it came out and finally got the chance. Like it's predecessor, the Pheonix Project, and the Eliyahu Goldratt's The Goal (which I gather in some contexts helped inspire the Pheonix Project), it's a business improvement book masquerading as a fictional story - and I love it for exactly that. The story helps grab and engage people which in turn helps give the concepts, suggestions and ideas context and anchors in your brain. Some of the terminology is a little more dense and field specific - requiring at least a passing familiarity with IT and software development and DevOps, but I think honestly that makes it more useful rather than less. This was a fantastic read and one I'd recommend to anyone with even passing experience in IT, IS, software development, etc.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gustavo Leiva

    Fun to read. If you already read the Phoenix Project then this one will feel certainly similar. The Unicorn Project narrates the story more from the stand point of a software engineer, rather than a head of technology, which is IMO what the Phoenix Project does. The book presents some of the DevOps practices and results in an entertaining story happening on a fictitious company. My only criticism comes from the fact that they packed all the engineering work done in a matter of months, if not weeks, Fun to read. If you already read the Phoenix Project then this one will feel certainly similar. The Unicorn Project narrates the story more from the stand point of a software engineer, rather than a head of technology, which is IMO what the Phoenix Project does. The book presents some of the DevOps practices and results in an entertaining story happening on a fictitious company. My only criticism comes from the fact that they packed all the engineering work done in a matter of months, if not weeks, which sounds somewhat unrealistic in the enterprise tech world. Obviously this is a technology novel, but a more realistic timeline of the story would have made it better. Overall, I enjoyed the book. The authors have done a great job putting this tech novel series together.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marco

    I loved the Phoenix Project and this book is quite similar. But you don't have to read the predecessor. It's a funny and entertaining read, lots of pop culture and geeky references (i.e. Red shirts from Star Trek), common principles explained in a non-scientific way. Nothing really new, but you will learn a lot about politics in bigger companies and hear some disaster stories. If it would be a novel you could complain how easy you can turn the ship and become successful, not such much drama I loved the Phoenix Project and this book is quite similar. But you don't have to read the predecessor. It's a funny and entertaining read, lots of pop culture and geeky references (i.e. Red shirts from Star Trek), common principles explained in a non-scientific way. Nothing really new, but you will learn a lot about politics in bigger companies and hear some disaster stories. If it would be a novel you could complain how easy you can turn the ship and become successful, not such much drama included.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ciprian Dobre-Trifan

    Insightful and keeping you on your toes! A great piece of digital society literature that should be found much more on all.physical and digital shelves. There are some parts that bring on way too much information compared to the rest in a rhythm that is hard to follow. Also, the story seems to make a little too much progress than the timeline leaves room for in some parts. All in all a great inspiration to businesses and tech teams.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Kapsar

    Overall, I enjoyed this book. I found parts of the book at odds with some of the fundamental goals of agile and DevOps (which is odd given that Gene Kim is one of the founders of the latter movement). The primary issue I have with the book is the fact that the main character has zero work life balance. I understand this was a do or die situation with work. That there was a major crisis, but this was bad. In the Phoenix Project and the Goal (written by Goldratt) there's a better balance between Overall, I enjoyed this book. I found parts of the book at odds with some of the fundamental goals of agile and DevOps (which is odd given that Gene Kim is one of the founders of the latter movement). The primary issue I have with the book is the fact that the main character has zero work life balance. I understand this was a do or die situation with work. That there was a major crisis, but this was bad. In the Phoenix Project and the Goal (written by Goldratt) there's a better balance between work and life. In fact, the rest of their life provided inspiration for work and the downtime proved to be incredibly important for the main characters to process what they were learning and working through. Another problem is the fact that change management was incredibly easy for this organization. I've never been in an org where changes of this magnitude wasn't rejected by a large body of the organization. Sure, Sarah rejected them, but that was remarkably easy to deal with - namely success. However, I've been in organizations where the success has lead to even more politicing and the ultimate rejection of the change! Anyway, the 5 ideals in this book were fantastic. I liked that this book was driven by the developer side rather than purely management. Which does help to show that some of the best changes in an organization can be bottoms up. That, we as leaders, should in fact encourage bottoms up innovation and be sure to provide air cover for that sort of innovation. Another major point in this point, highlights that the best ideas in an organization can come from your developers. They are closest to the product so they may have ideas on how to improve it. If you combine that proximity with interactions with customers, you've got yourself a serious opportunity to grow and improve your topline and bottomline. I strongly recommend anyone looking to start a DevOps transformation to read this book. In fact, read the Phoenix Project, DevOps Handbook, this book, and the Goal. All of them will help you and your team understand the changes that they need to implement to become a FAANG!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lukasz Nalepa

    I was a bit tired reading this book. It's not that fresh as the Phoenix Project, and it is also less clear on what the author want to say by this fable. Also i feel that the fable itself is too colorized and too far off the reality - even comparing to the Phoenix Project. After all I had a very mixed feelings finishing this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Przemek

    The Goal > The Phoenix Project > The Unicorn Project > Beyond The Phoenix Project. This is my final stack-rank of this 'series'. I would recommend The Phoenix Project for everybody outside IT but perhaps working in the software company. The technical folks, better to go with the original The Goal.

  22. 5 out of 5

    David

    It's a clean take on the Phoenix project I was worried it would just be a boring rehash but it was surprisingly fresh and new. I still think I prefer the story/structure of the Phoenix project as I liked the style and rush a bit more compared to the laid back feel of this (read as less firefighting). For me this goes up there and I would rate them in the following must-read order. 1. The goal 2. The Phoenix Project 3. The unicorn project But the order might change depending on your background and It's a clean take on the Phoenix project I was worried it would just be a boring rehash but it was surprisingly fresh and new. I still think I prefer the story/structure of the Phoenix project as I liked the style and rush a bit more compared to the laid back feel of this (read as less firefighting). For me this goes up there and I would rate them in the following must-read order. 1. The goal 2. The Phoenix Project 3. The unicorn project But the order might change depending on your background and interests.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mac

    A New Hope...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eduards Sizovs

    I enjoyed the book. Even though it's not as exciting as The Phoenix Project, The Unicorn Project is the recommended reading for people working in big or fast-growing organizations. * If you have read The Phoenix Project – this book covers different topics. It's worth your time. * If you haven't read The Phoenix Project – read both, but I recommend starting with Phoenix. Phoenix tells a beautiful story about putting things in order and getting out of the chaos. Unicorn is about breaking the rules I enjoyed the book. Even though it's not as exciting as The Phoenix Project, The Unicorn Project is the recommended reading for people working in big or fast-growing organizations. * If you have read The Phoenix Project – this book covers different topics. It's worth your time. * If you haven't read The Phoenix Project – read both, but I recommend starting with Phoenix. Phoenix tells a beautiful story about putting things in order and getting out of the chaos. Unicorn is about breaking the rules and innovating in a big, conservative, top-down corporation.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    A very solid listen on audible. Not quite as impactful as it's predecessor, but certainly recommended.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Trevor Bramble

    Excellent, of course. Desperately needs another proofreading pass, but the content is at least as insightful and engaging as it's indispensable predecessor, The Phoenix Project.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alla

    After thoroughly enjoying both “The Phoenix Project” and “The DevOps Handbook” and recommending or gifting them to colleagues and friends I had very high expectations for “The Unicorn Project”. I was quite disappointed. There are foot bits and I have made a few highlights to come back to but overall I have been left with the feeling of a cheesy Hollywood romcom that fell flat despite a spectacular cast. The book oversimplifies everything and may leave many readers with unrealistic expectations After thoroughly enjoying both “The Phoenix Project” and “The DevOps Handbook” and recommending or gifting them to colleagues and friends I had very high expectations for “The Unicorn Project”. I was quite disappointed. There are foot bits and I have made a few highlights to come back to but overall I have been left with the feeling of a cheesy Hollywood romcom that fell flat despite a spectacular cast. The book oversimplifies everything and may leave many readers with unrealistic expectations about transformation projects and workings or large organisations. The author mentioned several sources of their inspiration at the end of the book, perhaps that is the reason there is way too much going on in the story - all of it is realistic but not in the same place at the same time. Compared to characters in “The Phoenix Project” characters in this book are quite generic and difficult to relate to. The “old” characters have been tuned down and lost their Phoenix Project charisma. There are a lot of women - most key people and the lead are women, a good stab at diversity. Unfortunately there were a few poor remarks about “designer suits” and other looks that ruined it for me. I liked the “sensei” quotes and perhaps the list of thinks to keep in mind when building products, technology and teams - which the book was about but the presentation and the move part - not so much. And the typos, endless typos. I have been waiting for this book for so long and it came out messy. High respect for the author, I will still be recommending “The Phoenix Project” and “The DevOps Handbook” but not “The Unicorn Project”.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alex Gyoshev

    Fun in a weird way, and I learnt a few things.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andy Nortrup

    This should be on every software engineer and product manager's professional development reading list.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Simon Möller

    I've worked as a Software Engineer in the area of Developer Productivity for about two years and wish I had read this book when I started out. It highlights the importance of taking this work seriously and how it helps the entire organization to succeed. The 5 ideals provide a useful framework for thinking about it. The writing style of the book isn't great - it's the content of a textbook in the shape of a novel. Still, if you are interested in how to make developers productive to make a I've worked as a Software Engineer in the area of Developer Productivity for about two years and wish I had read this book when I started out. It highlights the importance of taking this work seriously and how it helps the entire organization to succeed. The 5 ideals provide a useful framework for thinking about it. The writing style of the book isn't great - it's the content of a textbook in the shape of a novel. Still, if you are interested in how to make developers productive to make a business thrive, this book is a fun read.

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