This book is about IT project management, but unlike most management books, instead of being a series of case studies, it is written like a novel. The main character, Bill, is suddenly promoted from head of middleware technology to CTO at a time when the company, Parts limited, is failing apart at the seems.
What I found most surprising was that the book actually worked as a novel. I found myself genuinely caring about Bill and people he worked with and getting sucked in to the drama of delivering the project.
Also for a book about IT project management it’s amazing what a page turner it is. Especially in the early sections of the book where everything is going wrong. I found myself wondering how I would deal with his different problems which made me really wish there was a deathtrap dungeon style “choose your own adventure” book based around IT project management:
- Your CEO is demanding you release the project at the pre-agreed date though you have major worries that it will not scale in production, do you:
- Accept his demands release the change: turn to page 72
- Refuse to do the release: turn to page 143
Things to take away from the book
- In order to mange anything you need to know what work is actually happening.
- If you have a constraint on any system improving anything but that constraint is not actually going to make things better. In the book a single operations guy is the constraint for half the IT organization.
- IT should be integrated into all aspects of an organization not seen as an external department in itself.
- Operations and development need to be integrated.
- Limit work in progress.
- Understand The 3 ways:
- Systems thinking: The flow of work from business requirements through development and ops to the customer.
- Amplify feedback loops: Make sure issues found in any part of the process are fed back to where they can be fixed. If ops had a problem it may have started with dev. If dev had a problem maybe it needs to go back to the requirements.
- Culture of continual experimentation and learning: Take the time to improve things, it will be worth it.
- For IT there are 4 types of work:
- Business projects
- Internal projects
- Operational changes
- Unplanned work