Phoenix Project

DevOps novel by Gene Kim (in the style of Eli Goldratt, and extending his thinking)


The company continues to be outmaneuvered by its arch rival, famous for its ability to anticipate and instantly react to customer needs

CIO stands for “Career Is Over.” And VPs of IT Operations don’t last much longer. So, Steve was a major

As if he just remembered, he says, “You were a Marine. When and where?”

I laugh, finding myself liking him. This is the longest interaction we’ve had. I suddenly wonder if this is what politicians are like.

I try to stay focused on why he summoned me here: He’s going to ask me to undertake some kamikaze mission.

we must regain profitability. To do that, we need to increase our market share and average order sizes. Our retail competitors are kicking our ass

he says. “The way things are going, I’ll be out of a job in six months. As of last week, Bob Strauss, my old boss, is the new chairman of the company

As acting CIO, Chris Allers, our VP of Application Development, will report to me. And so will you

And could you at least explain why no one who accepts this position lasts very long? What do you want most from

He can be very persuasive,” she says. “For what it’s worth, he’s one-of-a-kind. I’ve worked for him for nearly ten years, and I’ll follow him anywhere

Developers are even worse than networking people. Show me a developer who isn’t crashing production systems, and I’ll show you one who can’t fog a mirror. Or more likely, is on vacation

Wes leans back in his chair with his arms crossed over his stomach. They don’t get all the way across. At six feet three inches tall and over 250 pounds, he casts a shadow on most people. He seems to be in constant motion and has a reputation of saying whatever is on his mind

Patty is the complete opposite. Where Wes is loud, outspoken, and shoots from the hip, Patty is thoughtful, analytical, and a stickler for processes and procedures. Where Wes is large, combative, and sometimes even quarrelsome, Patty is elfin, logical, and levelheaded

The only thing more dangerous than a developer is a developer conspiring with Security

Yes, that’s certainly one type of work. But you’re still missing the three other types of work that IT Operations is responsible for

  • Business projects (Projects around delivering direct customer value.); Internal IT projects (Infrastructure and operations projects, internal improvements. The production line for delivering the above business projects.); Changes (Fixed, changes, improvements generated by the two above.); Unplanned work (Incidents, fixing problems in the three previous types of work.)

You probably don’t even see when work is committed to your organization. And if you can’t see it, you can’t manage it—

For decades at this plant,” he continues, “there were piles of inventory everywhere. In many places, it was piled as high as you could stack them using those big forklifts over there. On some days, you couldn’t even see the other side of the building. In hindsight, we now know that WIP is one of the root causes for chronic due-date problems, quality issues, and expediters having to rejuggle priorities every day

In the 1980s, this plant was the beneficiary of three incredible scientifically-grounded management movements. You’ve probably heard of them: the Theory Of Constraints, Lean Production or the Toyota Production System, and Total Quality Management

now everyone knows that you don’t release work based on the availability of the first station. Instead, it should be based on the tempo of how quickly the BottleNeck resource can consume the work

Goldratt, who created the Theory Of Constraints, showed us how any improvements made anywhere besides the BottleNeck are an illusion

“If you think IT Operations has nothing to learn from Plant Operations, you’re wrong. Dead wrong,” he says. “Your job as VP of IT Operations is to ensure the fast, predictable, and uninterrupted flow of planned work that delivers value to the business while minimizing the impact and disruption of unplanned work, so you can provide stable, predictable, and secure IT service.”

Once you figure this out, young Bill, you will be well on your way toward understanding the Three Ways,” he says. “The First Way helps us understand how to create fast flow of work as it moves from Development into IT Operations, because that’s what’s between the business and the customer. The Second Way shows us how to shorten and amplify feedback loops, so we can fix quality at the source and avoid rework. And the Third Way shows us how to create a culture that simultaneously fosters experimentation, learning from failure, and understanding that repetition and practice are the prerequisites to mastery.

Okay, if Brent is our heat treat oven, then who is our Mark? Who authorized all this work to be put in the system?

Well, we did. Or rather, the CAB did

But when was the question ever asked whether we should accept the work? And on what basis did we ever make that decision

At the plant, I gave you one category, which was business projects, like Phoenix,” I say. “Later, I realized that I didn’t mention internal IT projects. A week after that, I realized that changes are another category of work. But it was only after the Phoenix fiasco that I saw the last one, because of how it prevented all other work from getting completed, and that’s the last category, isn’t it? Firefighting. Unplanned work

Very good,” he says. “You’ve put together tools to help with the visual management of work and pulling work through the system. This is a critical part of the First Way, which is creating fast flow of work through Development and IT Operations. Index Card-s on a Kanban Board is one of the best mechanisms to do this, because everyone can see WIP. Now you must continually eradicate your largest sources of unplanned work, per the Second Way

Ah, well if we’re going to talk about your next steps, you definitely need to know about constraints because you need to increase flow. Right now, nothing is more important.” Fully two decades after The Goal was published,” he continues, “David J. Anderson developed techniques of using a Kanban Board to release work and control WIP for Development and IT Operations

Chester, your peer in Development, is spending all his cycles on features, instead of stability, security, scalability, manageability, operability, continuity, and all those other beautiful ’itties

You need to design these things, what some call ‘nonfunctional requirements,’ into the product. But your problem is that the person who knows the most about where your Technical Debt is and how to actually build code that is designed for Operations is too busy. You know who that person is, don’t you?”

Jimmy’s problem with the auditors shows that he can’t distinguish what work matters to the business versus what doesn’t. And incidentally, you have the same problem, too. Remember, it goes beyond reducing WIP. Being able to take needless work out of the system is more important than being able to put more work into the system. To do that, you need to know what matters to the achievement of the business objectives, whether it’s projects, operations, strategy, compliance with laws and regulations, security, or whatever

Remember, outcomes are what matter—not the process, not controls, or, for that matter, what work you complete

He stops, obviously distraught and needing a moment to compose himself.

Is he tearing up?

One of my favorite books about team dynamics is Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni

He took me to Allie, the Manufacturing Resource Planning Coordinator, and asked her how she decides on whether to accept a new order

Erik asked me how we made the same type of decision in IT,” I recall. “I told him then, and I’ll tell you now, I don’t know. I’m pretty sure we don’t do any sort of analysis of capacity and demand before we accept work

Erik interrupts. “Well put, Bill. You’ve just described ‘technical debt’ that is not being paid down

That’s some pretty nice, soaring rhetoric, Steve. Very moving. But you know what your problem is? You guys in the business are punch drunk on projects, taking on new work that doesn’t have a prayer of succeeding. Why? Because you have no idea what capacity you actually have

And I tell them what I’m thinking

You must be out of your goddamned mind,” Steve says, his

You want to just stop doing work

Remember, Jimmy, the goal is to increase the throughput of the entire system, not just increase the number of tasks being done. And if you don’t have a trustworthy system of work, why should I trust your system of security controls? Bah. A total waste of time

Suppose you’re managing the MRP-8 plant, and you have inventory piled to the ceiling. What would happen if you stopped releasing jobs and materials onto the plant floor?”

Surprised to be the target of the question, Steve considers it for a moment. “The amount of WIP in the plant goes down, because work will start leaving the plant as finished goods

You’re not actually suggesting that this applies to IT, too? That by halting all work except for Phoenix, we’ll reduce the amount of WIP in IT, and that this will somehow improve due-date performance? Is that seriously what you’re suggesting?”

You know what your problem is?” Erik says, pointing a finger at John. “You never see the end-to-end business process, so I guarantee you that many of the controls you want to put in aren’t even necessary

we’re putting together a project to monitor our critical systems for unauthorized changes

Come on, we’ve both been talking about how we’ve never seen people so focused before. It’s amazing how the project freeze has reduced the priority conflicts and bad Multi Tasking. We know it’s made a huge difference in productivity.”

When we commit to work on a project, a change, a service request, or anything else, how does anyone decide what to work on at any given time? What happens if there are competing priorities?”

“If this is true, there’s no way we can lift the project freeze. Don’t you see that we don’t have any way of releasing work into IT and be able to trust that it will get worked on

You’re confused because you’re realizing you don’t know how work is actually worked,” he continues

Brent is a worker, not a work center,” I say again. “And I’m betting that Brent is probably a worker supporting way too many work centers. Which is why he’s a constraint

every work center is made up of four things: the machine, the man, the method, and the measures

You’re not only reducing the number of work centers where Brent is required, you’re generating documentation that will enable you to automate some of them.”

He continues, “Incidentally, until you do this, no matter how many more Brents you hire, Brent will always remain your constraint. Anyone you hire will just end up standing around

You’re asking about how to lift the project freeze. Your problem is that you keep confusing two things. Until you can separate them in your head, you’ll just walk around in circles

The candidate projects which are safe to release are those that don’t require Brent

What you’re building is the bill of materials for all the work that you do in IT Operations

Your second question was whether it was safe to start your monitoring project.

So, how important is this monitoring project

You said that we always need to be looking for ways to elevate the constraint, which means I need to do whatever is required to get more cycles from Brent. That’s exactly what the monitoring project does!”

I say with some disbelief that I didn’t see this before, “The monitoring project is probably the most important improvement project we have—we need to start this project right away.” Properly elevating preventive work is at the heart of programs like Total Productive Maintenance, which has been embraced by the Lean Community

Mike Rother says that it almost doesn’t matter what you improve, as long as you’re improving something. Why? Because if you are not improving, entropy guarantees that you are actually getting worse

Rother calls this the Improvement Kata

A critical part of the Second Way is making wait times visible, so you know when your work spends days sitting in someone’s queue—or worse, when work has to go backward, because it doesn’t have all the parts or requires rework

certain components were never showing up at final assembly on time.

we found that for the majority of time, the parts were just sitting in queues. In other words, the ‘touch time’ was a tiny fraction of ‘total process time.’ Our expediters had to search through mountains of work to find the parts, and push them through the work center

These ‘security’ projects decrease your project throughput, which is the constraint for the entire business. And swamp the most constrained resource in your organization. And they don’t do squat for scalability, availability, survivability, sustainability, security, supportability, or the defensibility of the organization.”

He asks deadpan, “So, genius: Do Jimmy’s projects sound like a good use of time to you

Erik, it’s been a long time since GAIT and Orlando

partly due to their external auditors making trouble with a bunch of young, bottom-up auditors who strayed off the reservation.

They pulled out something called the “GAIT Principles” document and cited some of the enclosed flowcharts

The auditors were supposed to put the screws on us. They were supposed to punish us sinners f

You know what your problem is, Jimmy?” Erik says, pointing his finger at him. “You are like the political commissar who walks onto the plant floor, proudly flashing your badge at all the line workers, sadistically poking your nose in everybody’s business and intimidating them into doing your bidding, just to increase your own puny sense of self-worth. Half the time, you break more than you fix

him. “As you just observed, the organization can keep the auditors away without you having to do anything at all

You really don’t get it, do you? The biggest risk to Parts Unlimited is going out of business. And you seem hell-bent on making it go out of business even faster, with all your ill-conceived, irrelevant technical minutia

But you’ll never adequately protect it when the work product is already in production. You need to protect it in the processes that create the work product.” Go to MRP-8 plant and find the plant safety officer. Go talk to her, find out what she’s trying to accomplish and how she does it

says. “I keep thinking about the lanes of work we’re trying to create. I’d like to test some of these concepts with the incoming service requests, like account add/change/deletes, password resets, and—you know—laptop replacements.”

It’s a Kanban Board

take some of our most frequent service requests, documented exactly what the steps are and what resources can execute them, and timed how long each operation takes

people we’ve issued laptops to. It usually takes fifteen turns to finally get them configured correctly. I’m tracking that now, and trying to drive this down to three

My plant supervisor friend also told me about the Improvement Kata they’ve adopted. Believe it or not, Erik helped them institute it many years ago. They have continual two-week improvement cycles, each requiring them to implement one small Plan-Do-Check-Act project to keep them marching toward the goal

Wait, the change board looks different. Why are the cards different colors

Give me three lists. One that requires Brent work, one that increases Brent’s throughput, and the last one is everything else

we never reconciled the business and IT projects with each other

wait times depend upon resource utilization

What that graph says is that everyone needs idle time, or slack time. If no one has slack time, WIP gets stuck in the system. Or more specifically, stuck in queues, just waiting

two slides I look at every day.”


second slide, which shows what I believe are the more important company goals

I look at the second slide again. I feel like Phoenix is not what Dick should be asking me to focus on

I’m pretty sure no one has linked Dick’s top measurements to the prerequisite IT objectives

As part of the First Way, you must gain a true understanding of the business system that IT operates in. W Edwards Deming called this ‘appreciation for the system

Your mission is twofold: You must find where you’ve under-scoped IT—where certain portions of the processes and technology you manage actively jeopardizes the achievement of business goals—as codified by Dick’s measurements. And secondly, John must find where he’s over-scoped IT, such as all those SOX-404 IT controls that weren’t necessary to detect material errors in the financial statements


Go talk to the business process owners for the objectives on Dick’s second slide. Find out what their exact roles are, what business processes underpin their goals, and then get from them the top list of things that jeopardize those goals

You must understand the value chains required to achieve each of Dick’s goals, including the ones that aren’t so visible, like those in IT.

We decide that Patty and I will start the business process-owner interviews for “understanding customer needs and wants,” “product portfolio,” “time to market,” and “sales pipeline,” while John will research the business SOX-404 control environment, as directed by Erik

If you want to talk about sales forecast accuracy, you first need to know why it’s so inaccurate. It starts when Steve and Dick hand me a crazy revenue target, leaving me to figure out how to deliver on it

they need truckloads of our new fuel injector kits because all his stores are completely stocked out

Sarah promised that acquiring the retail stores would accelerate our sales. And has it happened? Hell, no

He tells us at length how difficult it is for his managers to get the reports they need out of our customer relationship management system (CRM) and the endless battle to make sure his entire sales force uses it in their daily work

emergency capital is hard to get these days. Especially for IT Operations.”

Ron turns bright red. “Why? What are they saving it for? Probably another goddamned acquisition that Sarah is dreaming up

“A bad day?” he repeats, staring at me disapprovingly. “Why, Bill, it’s positively catastrophic when the MRP and phone systems that you manage go down like they did a few weeks ago.

And when the phones went down in the last few days of the quarter, and customers couldn’t give us orders or make last-minute changes

our next interview, which is with Maggie Lee, who sponsored Phoenix

we’re scheduled to interview Ron Johnson, the VP of Manufacturing Sales

Both Patty and I work with Maggie regularly. She’s the business sponsor of over half the IT projects

the way I measure our understanding of customer needs and wants is whether customers would recommend us to their friends. Any way you cut it, our metrics aren’t very good

Ideally, our sales data would tell us what customers want. You’d think that with all the data in our order entry and inventory management systems, we could do this. But we can’t, because the data are almost always wrong

Our data quality is so bad that we can’t rely on it to do any sort of forecasting. The best data that we have right now come from interviewing our store managers every two months and the customer focus groups we do twice a year

I thought Phoenix was supposed to fix all this?” I ask

It was supposed to do a lot of this reporting, but there’s so much political pressure to ship something, they keep dropping features

Patty interjects, “What’s an acceptable time to market for your products

We’ve been at Phoenix for nearly three years and it still hasn’t created the desired business value.

I have a terrible feeling that we may be going about Phoenix entirely the wrong way…

I’m in a conference room with Patty, Wes, Chris, and John to share the progress Patty and I have made

the third column lists what can go wrong with either the IT systems or data; and in the fourth column, we’ll write down the countermeasures to prevent those bad things from happening, or at a minimum, detect and respond

We need to come with the controls to mitigate the risks in your third column. We

For the phone and MRP systems, we quickly establish that the predictive measures include

So for ‘marketing needs and wants,’ our proposed measurements include

“All you’ve told me is that you’re completely asleep at the wheel!” Dick says sternly

Erik clears his throat, and says to Dick, “I agree a nutless monkey should have figured this out. So, Dick, explain why on that little measurement spreadsheet of yours, you list four levels of management for each of your measurements but nowhere are there any IT managers listed. Why?”

He then asks, “Well, what’s your proposal? You’ve got one, I presume?”

I’m pretty sure we can do something equally fantastic to reduce our audit and compliance workload

That’s why Erik called the pile of audit findings a ‘scoping error.’ He’s right. If the audit test plan was scoped correctly in the beginning, there wouldn’t have been any IT findings!” he

“I’m rebuilding our compliance program from scratch, based upon our new understanding of precisely where we’re relying our controls,” John says. “That dictates what matters. It’s like having a magic set of glasses that can differentiate what controls are earth-shatteringly important versus those that have no value at all

I’m proposing five things that could reduce our security-related workload by seventy-five percent

My fifth and last proposal is that we pay down all the technical debt in Phoenix, using all the time we’ve saved from my previous proposals

All her project managers are gushing about how projects are flowing so much faster. The number of tasks waiting for Brent and the rest of IT Operations is way down. In

On the project front, we’re in fantastic shape—especially with Phoenix

Our project backlog has been cut way down, partially from eradicating dumb projects from our Development Queue.

And it’s not just Brent’s work that we’re improving. By reducing the number of projects in flight, we’re keeping clear lanes of work, so work can go from one work center to the other quickly, getting completed in record time

we keep bumping up the number of projects we think we can handle concurrently

As Erik keeps reminding me, a great team performs best when they practice

ten minutes,” I say. “Don’t leave me hanging. Who’s trying to backdoor the system?”

I hear John laugh on the other end of the line. “Sarah. Who else

Although, what’s the right way to handle Sarah? I feel completely out of my league. Steve constantly protects her

For a decade, Bob was the strategy guy, and all Steve had to do was execute the vision.

“For years, Steve searched for a strategy person to be his right-hand man

She simply doesn’t care about the body count she leaves in her wake, because she wants to be the next CEO of Parts Unlimited.” Patty says. “And apparently, Steve does too. He’s been grooming her as his successor for years

Steve has a blind spot for Sarah’s shortcomings, because she has something he needs and admires, which is the ability to come up with creative strategies, regardless of whether the strategy is good or bad. On the other hand, because Sarah is so insecure, she’ll do whatever it takes to not look bad.

It’s Phoenix deployment day, and I’ve missed Halloween with my kids

We’ve found our smoking gun. We just discovered that Brent made a change to the production database a couple of weeks ago to support a Phoenix business intelligence module. No one knew about it, let alone documented it. It conflicts with some of the Phoenix database changes, so Chris’ guys are going to need to do some recoding

“Good morning, Steve,” she says, as she walks in primly, sitting down besides Erik. “I take it you wanted to see me about my new marketing initiatives?”

“You mean, the unauthorized shifts of work you’re running inside the IT factory, like some unscrupulous Chinese plant manager?” Erik asks

Sarah stands up. “By the way, I had a conversation with Bob Strauss yesterday. I don’t think your leash is as long as you think it is. Bob says we need to be looking at strategic options, like splitting up the company. I think he’s right

You’ve improved flow by freezing and throttling the project releases, but your batch sizes are still way too large. The deployment failure on Friday is proof. You also have way too much WIP still trapped inside the plant, and the worst kind, too. Your deployments are causing unplanned recovery work downstream

you can’t have nine-month-long releases. You need much faster feedback

Chris replies first. “As I shared earlier, even minor Phoenix bug fix releases are so problematic that we can’t afford to be doing them monthly. Despite what Erik said, I think we need to slow down our release schedule. I propose moving to one release every other month

I need my developers building new features. They can’t be constantly tied up with Bill’s team, dealing with deployment issues.”

if we can’t do that inside the Phoenix framework, maybe we can do it outside of Phoenix. I propose we form a SWAT team by detaching a small squad from the main Phoenix team, telling them to figure out what features can help us hit our revenue goals as soon as possible

You’ve got to stop thinking like a work center supervisor. You need to think bigger, like a plant manager. Or better yet, think like the person who designed this manufacturing plant and all of the processes it relies upon. They look at the entire flow of work, identify where the constraints are, and use every possible technology and bit of process knowledge they have to ensure work is performed effectively and efficiently. They harness their ‘inner-Allspaw

we had a crazy idea: Maybe we could do the painting and curing in a single machine

“I think your target should be…” he says, pausing for a moment. “Ten deploys a day. Why not?”

Back in 2009, I was a board director at a technology company, where one of our engineers went to the Velocity Conference and came back raving like a madman, full of dangerous, impossible ideas. He saw a presentation given by John Allspaw and his colleague Paul Hammond that flipped the world on its head. Allspaw and Hammond ran the IT Operations and Engineering groups at FlickR

I learned that the practices that Allspaw and Hammond espoused are the inevitable outcome of applying the Three Ways to the IT value stream. It totally changed how we managed IT and it saved our company

Allspaw taught us that Dev and Ops working together, along with QA and the business, are a super-tribe that can achieve amazing things. They also knew that until code is in production, no value is actually being generated, because it’s merely WIP stuck in the system. He kept reducing the batch size, enabling fast feature flow

their seminal book Continuous Delivery. Eric Ries then showed us how this capability can help the business learn and win in his Lean Startup work.”

you need to create what Humble and Farley called a deployment pipeline. That’s your entire value stream from code check-in to production. That’s not an art. That’s production

Stop focusing on the deployment target rate. Business agility is not just about raw speed. It’s about how good you are at detecting and responding to changes in the market and being able to take larger and more calculated risks

Chris speaks out the most fiercely. “What? Why in the world would we need to do ten deploys a day? Our sprint intervals are three weeks long. We don’t have anything to deploy ten times a day

Patty shakes her head. “Are you sure? What about bug fixes? What about performance enhancements when the site grinds to a halt

IT work is probably much more complex than manufacturing work. Not only is the work invisible, making it more difficult to track, but there are far more things that could go wrong

Just how many steps are there in the entire end-to-end deployment process?

Over the next ten minutes, he proves that there are likely over one hundred steps

Patty says, “You know, this reminds me of something that I’ve seen the plant floor guys use all the time. If one of them walked in, I’m guessing that they’d think we’re building a ‘value stream map.’ Mind if I add a couple of elements?”

With the current process, two issues keep coming up: At every stage of the deployment process, environments are never available when we need them, and even when they are, there’s considerable rework required to get them all synchronized with one another. Yes?”

we need a significant amount of automation. Brent, what would it take for us to be able to create a common environment creation process, so we can simultaneously build the Dev, QA, and Production environments

Right now, we focus mostly on having deployable code at the end of the project. I propose we change that requirement. At each three-week sprint interval, we not only need to have deployable code but also the exact environment that the code deploys into, and have that checked into version control, too.”

William walks to the whiteboard and points at a box called “code commit.” “If I could wave this magic wand, I would change this step. Instead of getting source code or compiled code from Dev through source control, I want packaged code that’s ready to be deployed

Brent decided to create a completely new database, using open source tools, with data copied from not only Phoenix but also the order entry and inventory management systems

within the three-week sprint, perhaps for the first time in memory, all the developers were using exactly the same operating system, library versions, databases, database settings, and so forth

We’re planning and executing faster than ever, and the velocity gap between Unicorn and Phoenix keeps getting larger. The Phoenix teams are taking notice and starting to borrow practices left and right and getting results that we hadn’t thought possible

Where the hell have you been? Everyone is looking for you! No… No… Des Moines? What are you doing there? Nobody told me… A secret mission for Dick and Sarah?

As I tell him what I learned during my phone call with Brent, I’m surprised to see his face turn scarlet. I would have thought he knew about all of this, given that he’s the CEO. Obviously not.

By the next day, Brent is back on Unicorn, and one of the level 3 engineers has joined Dick’s team somewhere in the snowy Midwest

But the code is running fifty times slower than we expected. One of the clustering algorithms isn’t parallelizing like we thought it would, so the prediction runs are already taking more than twenty-four hours

Why not send them out to the cloud? We could spin up hundreds or thousands of compute instances as we need them, tear them down when we’re done, and just pay for the compute time we use

Maggie explains that all these offers are already in the Phoenix system, and it was just waiting for the promotion functionality to finally get them to the customers

She continues, “Here’s my proposal: I’d like to do an e-mail campaign to one percent of our customers, to see what happens. Thanksgiving is in one week. If we could do a couple of trials and everything goes well, we’d go full blast on Black Friday, which is the busiest shopping day of the year.”

“I’m amazed at how quickly the Unicorn security fixes are being integrated,” he says. “Compared to the rest of Phoenix, fixing Unicorn security issues is a breeze. The cycle time is so short, we once put in a fix within an hour

By midday Thursday, right in the middle of Thanksgiving, we knew we were in trouble. The overnight Unicorn e-mail promotion was an incredible success. The response rate was unprecedentedly high, with traffic to our website surging to record levels, which kept bringing down our e-commerce systems

Maggie quickly agreed, but it still took the developers two hours to change and deploy. Now, this feature can be disabled with a configuration setting, so we can do it in minutes next time around, instead of requiring a full code rollout

moving the largest site graphics to a third-party content distribution network

Sarah says. “If we’re done congratulating ourselves, I’ve got a business wake-up call for you. Earlier this month, our largest retail competitor started partnering with their manufacturers to allow custom build-to-order kits. Sales of some our top selling items are already down twenty percent since they launched this offering

Wes walks in wearing an uncharacteristically glum face. “Uh, boss. I hate to say it, but I don’t think it can be done

we’d have to completely rewrite our manufacturing resource planning system that supports all the plants. It’s an old mainframe application that we’ve used for decades. We outsourced it three years ago

we’d like to break the OutSourcing contract early, bringing those resources back into the company. We’re talking about approximately six people, some of whom are still onsite. To buy out the remainder of the contract two years early would be almost one million dollars

We’re closing our monitoring gaps, we’ve refactored or replaced our top ten fragile artifacts so that they’re more stable, and the flow of planned work is faster than ever. Against my expectations, everyone jumped enthusiastically on Project Narwhal otherwise known as the “Simian Army Chaos Monkey” project

  • I want to put you on a fast track, two-year plan*

we’ll move you into a provisional Chief Operating Officer role in two years

In ten years, I’m certain every COO worth their salt will have come from IT

Erik arrives. He walks over to me, pausing to scrutinize the bronzed laptop. “You know, even though I give you a fifty-fifty chance of washing out, I still believe in you

One of these days, I’d like to create a hedge fund that invests in companies, taking long positions on companies with great IT organizations that help the business win, and short the companies where IT lets everyone down. I think we’d make a killing. What better way is there to force the next generation of CEOs to give a shit about IT?”

I want to improve the lives of one million IT workers in the next five years.

There’s a term that we’re hearing more lately: something called “DevOps.”

Edited:    |       |    Search Twitter for discussion