The Unicorn Project: A Novel about Developers, Digital Disruption, and Thriving in the Age of Data | Gene Kim
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The Phoenix Project wowed over a half-million readers. Now comes the Wall Street Journal Bestselling The Unicorn Project!
“The Unicorn Project is amazing, and I loved it 100 times more than The Phoenix Project…”—FERNANDO CORNAGO, Senior Director Platform Engineering, Adidas
“Gene Kim does a masterful job of showing how … the efforts of many create lasting business advantages for all.”—DR. STEVEN SPEAR, author of The High-Velocity Edge, Sr. Lecturer at MIT, and principal of HVE LLC.
“The Unicorn Project is so clever, so good, so crazy enlightening!”––CORNELIA DAVIS, Vice President Of Technology at Pivotal Software, Inc., Author of Cloud Native Patterns
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 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 rebel developers and business leaders working together, racing against time to innovate, survive, and thrive in a time of unprecedented uncertainty...and opportunity.
“The Unicorn Project provides insanely useful insights on how to improve your technology business.”—DOMINICA DEGRANDIS, author of Making Work Visible and Director of Digital Transformation at Tasktop
“My goal in writing The Unicorn Project was to explore and reveal the necessary but invisible structures required to make developers (and all engineers) productive, and reveal the devastating effects of technical debt and complexity. I hope this book can create common ground for technology and business leaders to leave the past behind, and co-create a better future together.”—Gene Kim, November 2019
“Every company going through a digital transformation needs to make this a must-read for all leaders. Not only will they recognize and empathize with the struggles of Maxine and team, they will also find insights for success with the Five Ideals. This book gives a roadmap to the type of rebellion every organization wishes for.” -- Courtney Kissler, VP, Global Technology, NIKE, Inc.
“What are developers' two typical experiences? Frustration, fatigue, anxiety, and aggravation when nothing comes together like it should and projects run late, over budget, and under promise. The Unicorn Project gives an empathetic over-the-shoulder look at how a peer can escape these too familiar circumstances, and Gene Kim does a masterful job of showing how a dynamic, discovery-oriented approach to technology transformation can combine the efforts of many to create lasting business advantages for all.” -- Dr. Steven Spear, author of The High-Velocity Edge, Sr. Lecturer at MIT, and principal of HVE LLC.
“The Unicorn Project is amazing, and I loved it 100 times more than The Phoenix Project….It made me remember every step we've gone through at adidas in the last 4 years.” -- Fernando Cornago, Senior Director Platform Engineering, adidas
“As important as The Phoenix Project was for managing organizational change, The Unicorn Project is for the vast majority of us who actually solve problems. This book provides a vision for software engineers for generations to come.” -- Dr. Tom Longstaff, Chief Technology Officer, Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute
“A bona fide digital transformation, one that makes a worthy difference in customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and cash flow, is a hard-fought victory through a gauntlet of agonizing battles. Wins, losses, and the unexpected are inevitable, and true grit―a combination of passion, courage, and perseverance―is required. The Unicorn Project is the organizational civil-war novel that every technology and business trailblazer must read.” -- Christopher O'Malley, President and CEO, Compuware
“In The Phoenix Project, Gene Kim clarified the what and why of DevOps. Now his latest book, The Unicorn Project, clarifies the what and why of digital transformation. Being great at DevOps without focusing on the customer means that you can be excellent at something that doesn't matter.” -- Jeffrey Snover, Technical Fellow, Microsoft
“The Unicorn Project is an inspired followup to The Phoenix Project, telling the same events from the perspective of technical contributors and digging much more deeply into key questions of team dynamics, leadership, automation, and misguided governance. Readers working in real-world IT or digital organizations will again find themselves nodding and grimacing in recognition that as an industry we have a long way to go; fortunately, Gene is continuing to light the way.” -- Charles Betz, Principal Analyst and Global DevOps Lead, Forrester Research
“The Unicorn Project takes you on a fun and imaginative journey into some of the most difficult IT and business challenges we face today. The project may be mythical, but the lessons and ideals encountered will provide real help to any leader seeking to unleash powerful potential within their organization. This should be required reading for any student, IT professional, or business leader who is serious about tackling data-driven digital disruption, customer focus, and workforce empowerment to deliver business value faster, better, safer, and happier.” -- Jason Cox, Director of Platform Engineering & SRE
“If you read The Phoenix Project and wondered if the author had been following you around at work, then The Unicorn Project is going to give you a sense of deja vu.” -- Erica Morrison, Executive Director of Software Engineering, CSG
“What I loved about The Phoenix Project is that it made me feel not alone. Reading that story, I closely identified with the experiences the characters were having in the software development process. In The Unicorn Project, he's written another cure for the forsaken tech managerial nerd. And this time he's extended to another whole group in the world of technology―those who deal with data, analytics, reports, and predictive models. Anyone working with software or data analytics will feel a kinship to the characters and the problems the teams encounter in The Unicorn Project, and will cheer them on as they apply the Dev and DataOps best practices to succeed. It's scary how close the characters, dialog, and situations are to what we daily experience. Is Gene listening in to our beer-soaked after-work conversations? I wonder…” -- Christopher Bergh, CEO & Head Chef, DataKitchen
"DevOps fans around the world rejoice! The Unicorn Project fills in all the gaps that The Phoenix Project never got to cover! Automated QA, loose coupling and APIs, democratized access, psychological safety, balancing current work with innovation, and more. It's all in there! Do yourself a favor and read this now to know where your practice should head next." -- Stephen Fishman, Director Customer Success Architecture, MuleSoft, a Salesforce Company
“In the tradition of The Phoenix Project, we follow Maxine and her colleagues as they work to salvage a critical project in time for Black Friday. The Unicorn Project puts you right in the middle of the action during a major technology refactor, building relationships with stakeholders, and ultimately understanding which applications bring value to the enterprise. I was reminded of many of the hurdles we've navigated during our own digital transformation.” -- Scott Nasello, Director, Delivery Engineering, Columbia Sportswear
"The Unicorn Project is an entertaining glimpse below deck of the chaotic IT ship and provides guidance on how to get everyone rowing together." -- Josh Atwell, Sr. Technology Advocate, Splunk
“If you liked The Phoenix Project, you will absolutely fall in love with The Unicorn Project. This is the other side of the story that you need to fully understand modernized DevOps processes.” -- Dr. Branden R. Williams, Technology Executive
"Just as The Phoenix Project introduced the Three Ways, The Unicorn Project introduces us to the Five Ideals. By illustrating how these underlying principles enable a small group of rebels to drive meaningful organizational change, Gene is providing us with a blueprint to follow in our own organizations." -- Scott Stockton, Regional Vice President, Sonatype
"Want to win in the digital economy? Read The Unicorn Project and take the bold steps framed in the Five Ideals and watch your people become your game-changers." -- Raj Fowler, Principal Consultant, DevOpsGroup
About the Author
Gene Kim is a multiple award-winning CTO, researcher and author, and has been studying high-performing technology organizations since 1999. He was founder and CTO of Tripwire for 13 years. He has written six books, including The Unicorn Project (2019), The Phoenix Project (2013), The DevOps Handbook (2016), the Shingo Publication Award winning Accelerate (2018), and The Visible Ops Handbook (2004-2006) series. Since 2014, he has been the founder and organizer of the DevOps Enterprise Summit, studying the technology transformations of large, complex organizations.
In 2007, ComputerWorld added Gene to the “40 Innovative IT People to Watch Under the Age of 40” list, and he was named a Computer Science Outstanding Alumnus by Purdue University for achievement and leadership in the profession.
He lives in Portland, OR, with his wife and family.