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Raoul Meyer
Raoul Meyer

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Book review: The Unicorn Project

Around a year ago, I read The Phoenix Project. As you may have read in my review, I thought it was amazing. It touched on so many important aspects of software development and DevOps.

Its successor The Unicorn Project is now available, and it's equally amazing. One part in the book about user feedback really struck a chord with me.

Owning your product

In The Phoenix Project, there is a big focus on how developers, ops and security teams should work together to get better flow of work. In the story, the conflicting priorities of these split up teams often comes in the way of an idea going to production. When put together in one team and given the same goal, the team becomes way more efficient.

But improving efficiency by itself doesn't solve all your problems. You might still be building the wrong thing, or building it in a way that doesn't match the needs of the people you're building it for. The book has a renewed focus on how a group of people, broader than just DevSecOps, can work together to improve how effective they are.

In one example in the book, an idea had gone through several committees over the course of 2 years before it was picked up. In the end, a developer picked up the story, but couldn't figure out the details of what needed to happen. When idea and implementation are somewhat detached, both in time or in physical distance between stakeholders and developers, it heavily influences both efficiency and effectiveness.

I could really relate to another example. This week, my team had a meeting with our in-house translators. They showed us how they translated everything we need for our website. We built the system to sync strings to be translated to them and sync translations back when they are done. In just one hour, we found several low effort changes we could make that would make their lives easier.

Being out of touch with your actual stakeholders is a real problem. The book makes really clear that this is not a single person's responsibility. Instead, everyone is responsible for understanding how their products are being used.

And more

The book touches on a lot of different topics and ideas, many of which I didn't expect. For example, there's a clear focus on psychological safety and the positive impact it can have on both a team and organization level. All in all the book made me reflect in a lot of ways, the same experience as the one I had with The Phoenix Project.

On top of that it's just very entertaining to read about the struggles of a developer and how she overcomes those. It's easy to relate to the frustration that comes from a company that wants to but is unable to change.

If you're interested in DevOps, I highly recommend you give The Unicorn Project a read.

Top comments (2)

awwsmm profile image
Andrew (he/him)

Thanks for the review, Raoul! I'll have to add this to my reading list.

rohansawant profile image
Rohan Sawant

*nudge-nudge Put in an affiliate link here Raoul! You deserve them big bucks. 💰

Jokes apart, great review! Looking forward to reading the actual book.