In my recent review of The Unicorn Project I mentioned several times how much I loved the The Phoenix Project. Some of the feedback was that I should take a look at The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt. After all, The Phoenix Project is an adaptation of The Goal.
I had a credit on Audible, which I’ll explain later, so I gave it a whirl.
I don’t know if it was the writing, or the voice acting, but The Goal has so much more personality than The Phoenix Project. I can barely believe I’m saying this after the amount of praise I’ve given to The Phoenix Project over the years.
The Goal is centred around manufacturing. It’s about the productivity issues in a failing factory. Despite being part of the tech industry, I feel the focus on manufacturing actually makes it easier to follow. There’s something about picturing physical products that make things seem clearer to me. This, and the fact many of these concepts were born out of manufacturing, are no doubt why The Phoenix Project makes repeated references to manufacturing.
I realise some people will prefer The Phoenix Project, because it more closely resembles what they see in their own failing technology organisations, but I think I’ve changed my opinion, and I think The Goal is now my favourite of the two.
The DevOps Handbook (Again)
Another thing I mentioned in my review of The Unicorn Project, was how much I disliked The DevOps Handbook. That seemed to surprise some people. So much so, I started to doubt myself. I couldn’t bring myself to read it again, so I decided to sign up for Audible and get it as my free book. That way I could listen to it when driving to visit my family at weekends.
I was not wrong about this book. In the comments for The Unicorn Project review, I answered a question about my attitude to The DevOps Handbook with the following answer.
“I found it really boring. I guess I was hoping it would be more of a reference or teaching aid. I found it really dry and quite uninformative for the most part. It mostly felt like a bunch of people “bigging themselves up”. Like, “When I worked at X, things were terrible, and I turned it around by myself and now things are fuckin’ A!” Similar to this book, I think the important messages could be put across in a tiny fraction of the space.”
There are undoubtedly valuable messages in The DevOps Handbook, but my gosh they make you work hard to find them. If they removed all the dick-waving, there wouldn’t be much left.
Another thing I found annoying about it, was it didn’t feel like it really related to my circumstances. I work with a load of third party products that I can’t just scrap, much as I’d like to. I found myself thinking these people were probably just cherry-picking the good stuff to talk about, and forgetting the stuff that was harder to solve. I’ve written about this type of thing in this post.
The messages in the “good DevOps books” are universal. They help you understand your own problems and think your own way through to solving them. I don’t think The DevOps Handbook helps very much at all.
So that’s twice I’ve tried, and twice I’ve come to the same conclusion. Stick with The Goal and The Phoenix Project. There are better things to do with your time and money than wasting it on The DevOps Handbook and The Unicorn Project. That’s just my opinion though!
PS. By the time I had waded through The DevOps Handbook a second time I had already got a new credit for Audible, which is why I tried The Goal on Audible, rather than reading it. I’m glad I did.
PPS. There are a few cringeworthy gender stereotypes in The Goal, but remember when this was written…