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“The Phoenix Project” is a must-read book for every product owner. It emphasizes the importance of addressing technical and operational debt in your organization to maintain resilient infrastructure and achieve business outcomes and goals.

🌶️ In the age of LLMs and ChatGPT, there is no reason that we can’t take a set of stories, massage them with some prompts, set context based on our product, write a draft blog post, write a draft internal training document and notify an approver while shipping the code to stage for automated unit tests. Constraints and work in progress are not just metrics and efficiencies for DevOps.


Modern DevOps, Agile, and manufacturing share many similarities. To build efficient and fast software development life cycles (SDLC), teams inside and outside engineering must identify constraints in the system, address human error and measure work in progress.

The book is an excellent guide for product owners to understand how requirements and business outcomes they desire generate work that flows through the company. Engineering or DevOps is one piece. However, the lessons from “The Phoenix Project” apply to the entire lifecycle, not just development.

It is essential to understand the nature of constraints, wait time, and unplanned work to ensure the timely delivery of our products to customers and internal stakeholders. As a product owner, The Phoenix Project also emphasizes the need to make room in every roadmap for reducing technical debt and operational process debt and creating a culture of continuous improvement.

Understanding Technical Debt and Resilient Infrastructure

Technical debt refers to the cost of maintaining software that is not up to standards or is outdated. For teams to move quickly, iterate fast, and deliver value to the customer at speed, it is crucial to address technical debt and ensure resilient infrastructure.

Technical debt is a significant problem for many companies due to its impact on the speed and quality of software development. Technical debt can slow development and make it difficult for teams to deliver high-quality software.

Additionally, every leader can learn from the stories of Parts Unlimited. Operational debt, maybe most importantly ‘wait time’, is a constraint we all face. Ensuring that the chain of work, or the build of materials, delivers a feature or outcome to the market is fast requires us to examine the time work waits for the next person in line.

Identifying Constraints and Reducing Risk

Constraints are part of life, and they are a growing pain. Identifying constraints in your flow and protecting that resource while immediately cross-training that role to improve capacity and reduce risk is crucial. The Phoenix Project also dives into the need to understand wait time as a measure of team constraints.

When we wait for the next step, we are slowing the continuous integration process. Although the book is focused on DevOps, this is true for Product, Marketing, Customer Support, and Success teams as well. We have created an incident if we release a feature without educating support or updating our knowledge or blog. It may not be a Sev 1 service-impacting incident, but we have failed to deliver the outcome our engineering and product teams desired because we didn’t account for wait time.

The book provides practical ways to identify constraints in the engineering or DevOps teams and reduce risk. Understanding the nature of constraints and reducing risk is crucial to ensuring the timely delivery of software products to customers and internal stakeholders.

Empowering DevOps Teams and Engineering for Success

Empowering DevOps teams and engineering to make meaningful improvements in the delivery pipeline is essential for success. Repetitive maintenance, documentation of processes, and removing human error are crucial for a culture of improvement.

The Phoenix Project emphasizes the need to prioritize preventative maintenance, documentation of processes, and removing human error through automation to create a culture of improvement. “Habits enable mastery,” and a culture of improvement must make room for addressing preventative maintenance. Small improvements, compounded daily, make a big impact.

Make Room on the Strategic Roadmap

The book emphasizes the need to make room on the roadmap to reduce technical debt and ensure resilient infrastructure. Product owners must be aware of the entire system, the manufacturing plant floor, for their product if they are to deliver the outcomes the business and customers desire.

In conclusion, “The Phoenix Project” is an excellent guide for product owners, operations leaders, and engineers alike. The book provides a roadmap for identifying constraints and reducing risk, empowering DevOps teams and engineering for success, and prioritizing repetitive maintenance and documentation.

This is part of my top 10, and it’s a fun read!

🤖 This article was written in part by AI

  1. Read the book + take notes.
  2. Read notes aloud while recording them, adding some additional thoughts and context.
  3. Ship recording to OpenAI Whisper to transcribe.
  4. Prompts summarize the top 3 topics + add five bullets for key points.
  5. Present five bullet counterpoints to my recording.
  6. Save the document in Notion.
  7. Select the document in Notion + ‘Ask AI’ to build into a blog + more prompts to add headings, etc.
  8. Create a WordPress post on my Free OCI Teir server from the document.
  9. Read, make my own, delete nonsense, and check grammar.
  10. Publish.
  11. 3-4 hours of work, done in 30 minutes. 😂

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