Friday 24th March 2023 - AIs, LLMs and the Phoenix Project

published2 months ago
2 min read

Hello and welcome to another weekend!

As we continue to ride the AI hype train - I give you three things to think about this week. Firstly, AI is a massive industry all of a sudden. It's sucking in all the talent in a global gold rush. This is explored in the article Risk of Industrial Capture Looms over AI Revolution

"The MIT research found that almost 70 per cent of AI PhDs went to work for companies in 2020, compared to 21 per cent in 2004. Similarly, there was an eightfold increase in faculty being hired into AI companies since 2006, far faster than the overall increase in computer science research faculty. "Many of the researchers we spoke to had abandoned certain research trajectories because they feel they cannot compete with industry"

It's the next big tech hype cycle. If your career might depend upon it, here is some advice from Paul Graham:

If you're an ambitious engineering student and you're wondering what to work on to advance your career, you're asking the wrong question. Work on whatever you're most excited about; if you're ambitious, your excitement will outweigh the hotness of the field you choose.

Secondly, the gold rush will mean a corresponding increase in noise across all media. Not just new applications and software but how it is represented and promoted - images, sounds, writing. Anything digital will be pattern matched and iterated upon using Large Language Models. It will become even more important to differentiate your technology business using positioning. Market position through differentiating your offer - using the AI tools to deliver more quickly and efficiently, but not using the tools to decide what you need to build. Use them to help with what you build.

​Thirdly, it's worth thinking hard before integrating that ChatGPT API into your software. While it might seem tempting to offer "AI' assistance to make the experience better for your customers, remember that could mean handing over customer training data to those running the AI. LLMs need data. It's datasets that the big AI companies are after. Ask yourself - is the addition of some smartness worth the cost of potentially undermining your own business by providing customer information directly to big tech?

This third item in particular, will only come under more scrutiny in the coming months. Thanks to this tweet for bringing this issue so succinctly to my attention.


I completed the Phoenix Project this week and it's a wonderful book. Read it, learn it, live with it in your business. I'm going to use it as one of the cornerstones of my course "Beating the Monolith: Understanding Modern Software Delivery" Although now I feel that "Software Delivery" is too narrow. As with the Phoenix Project, IT delivery for your business (of which software delivery is a growing part) is the whole shooting match. Software in itself cannot be delivered in isolation.

The Phoenix Project shows us how to be successful in a modern business - it must fully embrace IT and be honest about what type of a business it truly is.

Have a great weekend!

-- Richard

Learning to Live With The Phoenix Project

Published on March 23, 2023

Having devoured the Unicorn Project first, I took my time and savoured the Phoenix Project. There is so much clever detail hidden in the conversations between particularly Bill and Patty. It pays dividends to analyse it closely. What it shows us clearly is how is easy to get overwhelmed by work in progress (WIP). Reading… Read More »Learning to Live With The Phoenix Project


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