The Phoenix Project, by Kevin Behr, Gene Kim, and George Spafford is a book about IT management practices and techniques in the shape of a novel, the protagonist of which is a dude newly promoted to the Director of IT and trying to solve some critical infrastructure problems while getting a big software project delivered.

I should probably have enjoyed it less than I did; reading about someone having problems at work and calling meetings and instituting processes to fix them really should not be a fun, compelling page-turner. But… uh, well, it was. Also some good advice in it.

Eli Goldratt’s The Goal is a similar novel, only this time it’s about a newly-promoted plant manager in the ‘80s. He’s trying to boost his plant’s production to stave off (of course) Japanese competition. As a piece of entertainment, it was somewhat less fun—partly because factory management is less interesting than IT management to me, partly because the marriage subplot is painfully dated and kinda ooky. But as a management techniques book, it’s probably more coherent—whereas The Phoenix Project was kind of a melange of techniques to apply, The Goal is a focused explanation of the Theory of Constraints.

Either way, if you enjoy reading novels about management, a) what’s wrong with you, but also b) go ahead and read both of these.


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