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The Phoenix Project – Simulation Game


“A fun way to learn the organizational aspects of the DevOps way of working.”

When people think of DevOps, many of them heard of the CALMS framework in which the aspects Culture, Automation, Lean, Measurement, and Sharing are stated. We all know that it is about people working together efficiently and openly. While doing that, we use a lot of cool new tools and technologies to support this way of working. While these tools and technologies are indeed very advanced, and maybe even indispensable when implementing DevOps, the organizational way of working that contributes to the aspects above is just as, and maybe even more, important to reach success in your DevOps transition.

What is The Phoenix Project Simulation Game?

So, what does the Phoenix Game do that helps with implementing a DevOps transformation? It is not a tool and it is also not a framework. It is merely a very successful and fun way for people from within every part of an organization to experience the organizational pitfalls that we encounter in our daily work. The game shows, in a playful manner, that introducing some improvements in your way of working actually helps to achieve better results and with that, makes life more fun.

Based on bestseller ‘The Phoenix Project’

The game, as the title suggests, is based upon the book “The Phoenix Project”. During a one day event, a team of around 10 people will play the game, starting with the game host introducing himself as the CEO of a car parts company. The company is experiencing hard times and all its people are asked to make changes to get the company back on track.

In four rounds participants will experience how existing company structures and methods can be annoyingly inefficient and how they can improve this. Every round improvement is done by inspecting and adapting the way participants played in the previous round. In the game’s case, earn more money and achieve higher stock prices by successfully delivering projects.

Insight in changing your way of working

During this one-day game, each round will provide participants with new insight, which is often very close to real-life scenarios. These insights help you when you want to implement DevOps in your company. By changing your way of working, just as you did during the game, you can achieve more efficiency and value in real-life scenarios.

Some of the themes that are addressed during the Phoenix Project Simulation Game are:

  • Flow
  • Visualization
  • Value Stream Map
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Integrated testing
  • Fast deployment (People, Process & Technology)
  • Continuous Learning and experimenting

Although the game plays-out differently for every group, the themes above always present themselves somehow.

From in-game to real-life changes

As a conclusion, I can state that if you want to make the change towards working DevOps, this game is a very suitable and fun way to get people on board and to start the discussion on what introducing DevOps really means for you and your organization. It will provide you with insights that are valuable when you want to change your organization structure and processes to the DevOps way of working.