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The Unicorn Project Review

by Scott Reece, on Dec 17, 2019 11:00:00 AM

If you liked The Phoenix Project or learned from it, go get a copy of Gene Kim’s most recent work The Unicorn Project.  The Unicorn Project is another story about one company’s struggles to stay alive in a market that is being forced to change drastically due to advancing technology and customer expectations. By taking on DevOps practices and mindsets. This book is worth the quick read, presenting the same story but with different characters, values, and points of view.

Many of Phoenix’s favorite heroes (Bill, Brent) and villains (Sarah) appear in this book, but this time the story is from a different character’s perspective. Unicorn follows Maxine, a problem-solving developer facing the frustrations of unmanageable code, poor documentation, and lack of end-to-end access to projects. Guru Erik makes another appearance, this time to teach Maxine about “the five ideals.” Maxine and her team of “Rebels” (a group of like-minded and process-frustrated colleagues) must master the five ideals to have any chance of helping save Parts Unlimited from itself.

If the value of The Phoenix Project was using a story to explain DevOps and making a complicated topic both simple to comprehend and engaging, the value of The Unicorn Project is using the same style to communicate the values essential to DevOps. This is Gene Kim's "thesis" of the bookDevOps is I.T.’s future.

The Unicorn Project’s core thesis—that developers cannot truly contribute to their organization without end-to-end visibility—shows the cultural changes a company has to take on to fully onboard DevOps and get the benefits that will be the only means of success in a competitive market.

“A healthy software system is one that you change at the speed you need,
where people can contribute easily, without jumping through hoops.”
~ The Unicorn Project, p. 57

Kim makes an important point that modern I.T. departments and companies should listen to: Customers demand constant quality and security at unprecedented speeds, and monolithic legacy systems run manually and in siloed departments are doomed to fail—if they aren’t failing already.

As the new year approaches, remember that companies can commit to New Year’s Resolutions too! Take the lessons from The Unicorn Project to heart and start making the transition to systems and communication styles that will let you release more reliably, faster, and with greater satisfaction among not just your customers but among your employees too.

The right tools can help you make this change. Inedo DevOps tools maximize developer time, minimize release risk, and empower stakeholders to bring their vision to life faster. All with the people and technology you have right now. To get help streamlining your CI/CD processes, contact

Get a copy of The Unicorn Project here. And check out other reviews of the book:



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