The Hero’s Journey for IT


IT is everywhere. No one can escape the never-ending tribal warfare between product management, development, IT operations, and information security. In addition to creating grave consequences to the business, it has a terrible human cost as well. Working in IT is often frustrating and thankless, trapping professionals in a system where failure appears to be pre-ordained. This leads to hopelessness and despair.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can achieve and unlock greatness by breaking dysfunctional patterns, and by changing organizational incentives that cause them. It requires systems thinking, leadership, and most important, empathy.

The Hero’s Journey (Campbell) describes the common pattern of our most memorable narratives. I’ll describe the Hero’s Journey for the IT practitioner, telling the story and struggle of each stakeholder in IT, explaining the downward spiral, and elucidating how these foes become friends, and eventually achieve greatness.

Gene Kim


Gene is a multiple award winning CTO, entrepreneur, researcher and author. He founded and served as CTO of Tripwire for 13 years, a local Portland software company. Author of two books, he is currently writing “When IT Fails: A Business Novel” and “The DevOps Cookbook.”

Gene is a huge fan of IT operations, and how it can enable developers to maximize throughput of features from “code complete” to “in production,” without causing chaos and disruption to the IT environment. He has helped some of the top Internet companies on improving deployment flow and increasing the rigor around IT operational processes. In 2007, ComputerWorld added Gene to the “40 Innovative IT People Under The Age Of 40” list, and he also received the Outstanding Alumnus Award by the Department of Computer Sciences at Purdue University for achievement and leadership in the profession.