Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Book Review: The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win

CloserQ readers, I just finished reading (listening to on Audible) The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win by Gene Kim.   As a sales manager, Project Phoenix is not a typical read for me, as I usually focus on my reading on sales, executive management, biographies, and bubble gum fiction.  However, Project Phoenix was so strongly recommended by Mike ‘’Oakie’ Oakman, our VP of Delivery, so based on his raw enthusiasm, I downloaded the Phoenix Project on Audible. 

While listening to Project Phoenix, I first called Mike to thank him for pushing me to read, then we discussed the different strategies to increase DevOps effeciencies. With this novel, I have a better understanding of the challenges of other departments exceeding their objectives, particularly software development and IT deployment teams. 

The Project Phoenix is a fictional business novel that tells the story of Bill, an IT manager, who gets a battlefield promotion (aka his boss was fired) to Interim CIO.  Bill has only ninety days to rescue an over-budget IT department, including the overdue and high profile IT initiative code named, The Phoenix Project.  This project is so important the CEO wants Bill to report directly to him and to fix the entire mess in ninety days or else Bill’s entire department will be outsourced. 

With the help of a sage board member, with a vague socratic teaching style with cryptic messages, Bill starts to see that IT work has more in common with a manufacturing plant work than he ever imagined. The board member, teaches his mysterious philosophy of The Three Ways, that leads Bill to organize the work flow of his departments to resemble a highly functioning assembly line, to save both his job and the company.

One of the enlightening parts of the novel is ‘The Theory of Constraints’ aka the bottle neck.  That unless you improve the efficiency of the bottle neck, all other improvements are moot.  Additionally, the book highlight the value of planned work and the challenges of unplanned work, which I would equate to Stephen Covey’s time management strategy of focusing on what is ‘Important but Not-Urgent’ versus the Urgent, if you want to make real productivity gains.  

The novel is current day version of The Goal: An Ongoing Process ofImprovement by Eliyahu Goldratt.  The Goal is a legendary business novel written 30 years ago on implementing process improvements for business and manufacturing, through a fictional story.  I enjoyed The Project Phoenix so, much that I downloaded The Goal on Audible. 
Below is a link on amazon.com.

Good Reading / Listening!

Reader Feedback, please click the ‘comments’ below to give your feedback on 'The Challenger Sale'. Shaun Priest aka CloserQ. Have fantastic day.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Two Days on Martha's Vineyard - June 2015

On June 6th, my dad and brother threw my mother a surprise 70th birthday party on Perkins Pond.  After spending  a couple of days in Sunapee, New Hampshire; Christine, Maddi, Carson and I headed down to Martha’s Vineyard for a couple of days of vacation. 

We stayed at my Auntie Carolyn’s in Middleboro on Monday night, so we could start our Martha’s Vineyard journey early Tuesday morning by taking the high-speed ferry out of New Bedford  We choose New Bedford over Falmouth or Hyannis on Cape Cod, because it is quicker to get back to Boston, which we ended up needing, because we were the last ones to board our flight home on Thursday.
As is a tradition with Christine and I, we love to start our vacations with a cheesy local tour, and this time we dragged Maddi and Carson with us.  Right after checking into the hotel, we got on an old school bus and headed around the island through all six towns.   We boarded the bus in Oak Bluffs, which is well-known for its gingerbread cottages, and one of the two towns with ferries to the mainland.  We headed towards Edgartown going over the Jaws Bridge, which the tour guide said people jump off, but it was cold and rainy during our tour, so no one was jumping.   After Edgartown we headed through West Tisbury and Chilmark on our way to Aquinnah and the Gay Head Lighthouse.  Gay Head is the only stop on the tour.  
The highlight of the tour of  stopping at Aquinnah, formerly Gay Head, wasn't the view, as you can see in the pictures, Gay Head was cold and rainy on the day we stopped, the highlight was  Lobster Roll at The Aquinnah Shop the heaps of lobster on a fancy grilled hot dog roll, were simple to die for.

We re-boarded the bus and headed back to Oak Bluffs via Chilmark, West Tisbury, and Tisbury.  We had a great tour guide who was both funny and educating, including name dropping from current day celebrities like Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Reece Witherspoon to presidential connections with the Obamas, Clintons, and Kennedys. I recommend the tour, however be aware you are only hitting the highlights with only one stop.  You miss Menemsha, Chappaquiddick, Vineyard Haven, and much more. 
After the tour, we caught a taxi to our Harbor View hotel in Edgartown.  The Harbor View (in the back ground behind Christine) is a true 5 star hotel, very expensive but absolutely amazing.  After getting settled in, we walked to The Food Shanty, right on the ocean for a fantastic seafood dinner.
The next morning was our only full day on the island and my most favorite by far.  We rented bikes and spent a full day biking.  After a nice breakfast on the little downstairs patio at Among the Flowers, we took the On-Time Chappy Ferry (aka no schedule) only 527 feet to Chappaquiddick.  

Chappaquiddick is infamous for Ted Kennedy’s 1969 car accident, however the island is a great place to bike.  On the bike from the ferry to East Beach, you will find with the unexpected Mytoi Japanese Garden.  The garden is both free and amazing.  

After enjoying the garden, we continue biking on the dirt road over Dyke’s Bridge to the Atlantic Ocean.  After stepping into the ocean, we biked straight back to the Chappy’s Ferry.
After short ferry ride, we biked six miles to Oak’s Bluff.  Martha’s Vineyard is very bike-friendly but you have to be on the lookout as there is heavy car traffic and several areas where you have to cross active roads.  The ride is flat and beautiful, biking between Sengekontacket Pond and Joseph Sylvia Beach.  The weather was beautiful, and this day, when we got to Jaws Bridge kids were jumping off, and Carson said he wanted to jump too:
After Carson did his best to dry off and de-sand, we got back on the bikes for the last two mile to Oaks Bluff.  We parked the bikes at the Oak Bluffs Ferry and walked around the small town, including Town Beach, Ocean Park, Marina, Shopping Area, and the world famous Ginger Bread houses.  Unfortunately, we were just before their busy time of the year, and Flying Horses Carousel was closed on a Tuesday afternoon.  Christine and I were bragging about getting the brass ring to kids, regrettable Maddi and Carson didn't get experience this old school / not on-line fun.  During our shopping, we found a great T-Shirt for Carson, a life long Patriots Fan.  
After a bite to eat, we biked  back to Edgartown and our Harborview Hotel.  After dropping off the bikes, we walked downtown for another delectable Edgartown dinner, this time at Wharf Pup.    

The next morning our Martha’s Vineyard adventure was over, as we caught the Ferry back to New
Bedford.  We ran into traffic and just made our flight home by mere minutes.  

Thank you for letting us share our pictures from our Martha's Vineyard excursion with you.  If you have any questions, please email Shaun Priest at shaun@closerq.com.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

4 Disciplines of Execution: Getting Strategy Done

CloserQ readers, I want share with you my review of "4 Disciplines of Execution:Getting Strategy Done" by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling.  4DX (4 Disciplines of Execution) was recommended by a colleague, because the book offers specific tactics to successful execute on strategies.

Strategies often fail because they get devoured by urgency of day to day activities, or as 4DX calls them the 'Whirlwind'.  As the name states 4DX, offers four tactics, when followed, to successfully execute on your strategies:

  1. Focusing on the Wildly Important
  2. Acting on Lead Measures
  3. Keeping a Compelling Scoreboard
  4. Creating a Cadence of Accountability
I recommend 4DX for managers and individual contributors looking to enhance their productivity, which should be all readers. 

After listening to 4DX, I put together the presentation below, and presented to my team.   Below are jpeg's of my presentation, and if you would like the powerpoint version, just email me at shaun@closerq.com. 

Reader Feedback, please click the ‘comments’ below to give your feedback on  "4 Disciplines of Execution: Getting Strategy Done"
Good Reading / Listening (I actually listened to on Audible), Shaun Priest aka CloserQ. Have fantastic day.