014 - Yola & Co and The Phoenix Project Game (1000x456)Along Agile, DevOps is really important right now when you take yourself seriously as an IT company. A lot of books are written on this topic but one of my favourites is The Phoenix Project written by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and George Stafford. And now the DevOps world becomes even better, with a Dutch company called GamingWorks creating a game based on this marvellous book. Fortunately my employer is one of the companies helping GamingWorks by running tryouts of the game and I was lucky enough to attend one of those tryouts/train-the-trainer sessions. How awesome is that? Learning about DevOps while being a part of Parts Unlimited!

The game starts with the facilitator introducing the company Parts Unlimited. The company where  Bill, the main character of The Phoenix Project, is employed as the brand new Vice President IT Operations. The facilitator of the game is playing Steve, the CEO of Parts Unlimited. And with the former CISO fired by Steve, he is also accountable for security by fulfilling the roll of CISO. Just like in the book, Steve bursts into the room while holding a news flash with an article about Parts Unlimited. Of course the article is not all to positive about the company and Steve runs of to the VP IT Operations. Now the first round of the game begins. We all try to turn the tide for the company in the first round. As the Director of Retail Operation, who was that again in the novel, I was accountable for The Phoenix Program.

One round of the game contains five phases called prepare the roundplan workdo workscoring and reflection. All those phases are time boxed and consumes roughly an hour of your time (definitely not a waste though). During the reflection of the first round we found some improvements that we could apply in the second round. During the prepare we executed some of those improvements and when the new tasks for the second round came, we started planning the work. As Director of Retail Operations…..hey, wasn’t that the bitchy creature called Sarah? Sure I can play that role :). I started pushing forward with the tasks for The Phoenix Program even as issues start popping up. Database update went wrong? Fix it. Unable to pay the employees? Sorry Steve, make Human Resources talk to the Unions….

Fortunately, all the players where very familiar with the agile way of working, so we were really up for the job by applying agile technics and methods to the game. We improved the company’s revenue and share price beyond the financial KPI’s of the game in the second round already. Way to go team! Two round done, three more … not to go. We didn’t have the chance to finish the game in total due to the fact we were in the train-the-trainer session. We had to learn how to facilitate the game. Of course we could have finished the game after a days training but past 17:00 it was already time to wrap-up. Luckily I know my first chance to facilitate the game will come soon as it is being scheduled right now….I can’t wait till it happens…

Impression of the train-the-trainer session at Sogeti HQ in the Netherlands.

Impression of the train-the-trainer session at Sogeti HQ in the Netherlands.