The Phoenix Project Simulation

The Phoenix Project DevOps simulation

The Phoenix Project DevOps simulation helps translate DevOps Agile Skills Association (DASA) principles into practice and to foster effective collaboration in teams.

The Phoenix Project Simulation
Image: The Phoenix Project Simulation in action

Created by, specialists in business simulation game developments, and endorsed by Gene Kim, this Phoenix Project simulation helps teams experience the urgent need for better alignment, collaboration, communication and empathy. These attributes are at the heart of the DevOps mindset that many organisation aim to adopt but often fail to achieve.

As facilitators of this simulation we’d like to share some feedback from some recent sessions we have organised with our clients and our DevOps meetup group in Southampton, UK.


In summary, the common themes we see in each simulation that we run are:

  1. The simulation aligns to the 6 DevOps Principles that are the foundation of the DASA Competence Model.
  2. Participants never want to stop playing and can immediately see how this can benefit teams that they are working with.
  3.  The sessions are fun, energetic, sometimes chaotic, but always rewarding. Participants take away something they can use in their business.

As the simulation is run by the participants, and merely nudged along by the facilitator, the opening round can seem chaotic. Many teams state that this is “just like real life” and we have seen the simulation draw out behaviours such as participants shouting over one another and others withdrawing to sulk in a corner. The power of the simulation to draw out such behaviours provides a fertile ground for examining reasons and highlighting ways to improve.

The dropping in of critical issues during each round also reflects real life, with the same consequences on planned work. Each team deals with this differently. The game design clearly shows participants the business value impact of all work items. This is one clear take away that many participants say they will adopt, as it helps prioritise their work and provides focus. Many organisations struggle to articulate business or customer value on the work they ask teams to deliver.

The main feature of this simulation is that it drives Active Learning. This style of learning is the most effective at fostering habits and competencies that are long lasting. You may find it interesting to read more about this in Paul Wilkinson’s White Paper: Active Listening Delivering Business Value

About the author: Darryl Sherborne

Darryl is our MD and Agile/DevOps consulting lead. He has over 17 years experience in the agile transformation and continuous improvement field. Specialisms include: Agile coaching, team formation and coaching DevOps implementation