Archives January 2023

Information has no value until it is acted upon.

This is from our new book “Working Naked”, about visualisation of work (publishing this year in English and Vietnamese):


Visualisation is great, if you do something with it. Information has no value until it is acted upon. That is beyond the scope of this book, except to say that this concept is expressed in many different ways that all essentially mean the same thing:

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The Open IT Project

Open IT

Original graphic © Can Stock Photo / KevDraws

“How to do IT in the 21st Century”

© Copyright Two Hills Ltd 2023, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License


This page is the home of our 2023 project to bring Teal Unicorn’s successful Open concepts to the Information Technology context. We call it Open IT: learn more about Open IT, and about Rob the author, here.

At Teal Unicorn, we have used our version of Open Work and Open Management to make work better for many organisations, large and small: better results, better lives, better society.  The numbers are spectacular. We wrote 5-star books. We got on TV. Clients make videos about us. People laugh and cry. We all have a good time. We’ve made lifelong friends. This stuff works.


The purpose of this project is to bring those ideas to make a difference within IT organisations. IT is the epicentre of much of Open: it has been the thought leader in better ways of working for decades now, leading the way with XP, Scrum, Agile, DevOps, Resilience Engineering, Remote Working, and more. Teal Unicorn has done so well with Open in business. Now we want to bring our formulation of the same ideas back to IT – it is the least we can do.


Come on a one year journey with us.
Approximately once a week, there will be Linkedin posts interspersed with webinars. We will try to supplement the posts with videos. We encourage discussion and contribution, to evolve the syllabus even as we work through it, with an aim of an open body of knowledge by year end that all can benefit from. (We wont use your identity for anything or supply it to anyone. We won’t use your email except to send you the newsletters. We have no trackers on our website, nothing. We care about you less than you think 😀. What’s in it for Teal Unicorn is a community discussing the content to prepare us for writing a book in 2024.)

To be part of it, all you have to do is join the mailing list (select “Open IT” option)  to get each weekly post, invitations to webinars, extra reading, and a summary of the key points from previous week’s discussions.  No charge. (You will need to sign up for our monthly Teal Unicorn newsletter too.  You can unsubscribe from it anytime, but hey! check it out, it’s pretty good.)

If you are already subscribed to our other emails, any email from us has a place at the bottom to manage your subscription, you just add the “Open IT” newsletter and you’re all signed up.

That’s it. That’s all you have to do.  Get the newsletter, follow along, engage as much as you want to discuss and develop the ideas, or just sit back and learn.

The project lives on this page for 2023; the body of knowledge lives at Open IT permanently.



Here are more details of the course:


Open IT can only be understood in the context of Open Work and Open Management:

Open Work

  • Human
    • Respect and trust
    • Transparency
    • Skills not roles
    • Victims of the system 
  • Systems 
    • Continuous
      • Slack
    • Above the line understanding 
    • Networks, promise theory
    • Complexity, Cynefin
  • Adaptability
    • Agility
    • Resilience 
    • Antifragile

Open Management

  • Inviting
    • Collaboration
    • Authority
    • Servant manager and Humanocracy
    • Transformational leadership, principles, values, matariki
  • Organising
    • Directing systems
    • Coordinating effort
  • Serving
    • Nurturing
    • Provisioning
    • Unburdening

Open IT

  • Adaptability
    • Continuous improvement, learning, feedback
    • Agile
      • Iterate increment experiment explore
    • Scale
      • Architecture
      • Dependencies
      • Multispeed IT
      • Sociocracy
    • Resilience Engineering 
      • Scenario planning
      • Chaos engineering
      • Automation of IaC
    • Product over project
    • Planning in a VUCA world
  • Empowerment
    • Meritocracy 
    • Guilds
    • Shift left
    • Dev own Prod
    • Shu-Ha-Ri
    • Scrum
    • Transparency
  • Continuous flow
    • Headroom, demand
    • Sustainability
      • Slow IT, boring, 
      • Burnout
      • Systems and cultural debt
    • Standing teams
    • Lean and ToC
    • Let value flow
    • Kanban
    • DevOps CD
      • C Testing
      • C Integration
      • C Deploy
      • C monitoring 

Teal Unicorns: the future vision

  • How to advance
  • Teal
    • Truth beauty and goodness
    • Liberation
    • Holistic
      • Stakeholder value
      • Lift the world, don’t beat it
    • Emergent
  • Unicorn
    • Optimised for VUCA
    • The best of everyone
    • Surviving and Thriving


We will kick off a series of posts, interspersed with webinars, in April 2023, if we get the numbers – so tell your colleagues!

This will evolve as we go. New topics will come up. Some will collapse into one. 

  • Block 1: Open

  1. Webinar: Introduction to Open IT
  2. How we got here. The evolution of Open, Teal Unicorn’s own journey, and our great results as confirmation this stuff works
  3. Be kind. the restoration of humanity to work. Humanocracy. Trust and respect. 
  4. It’s a VUCA world.  Why the world is more VUCA, and how to survive and thrive.
  5. Ask nicely. Empowering and motivating knowledge workers
  6. Flipping the hierarchy. Distributing authority, liberating work, invitational management
  7. Gardeners not commanders. moving to servant management and transformational leadership
  8. Dancing with the system. Complex systems and how to deal with them.
  9. We don’t know until we do. Experiment, exploration, iteration, unintended consequences, J-curve, the folly of prediction and probability 
  10. Spilled coffee. Failure is normal, same as success. Embrace and learn. Blast radius, increment 
  11. Webinar: Open Work and Open Management

    Block 2: Adaptive IT

  12. The Adaptive IT system. Improvement, Learning,  Agile.
  13. Managing Big Horses. Adaptability at scale in legacy organisations.
  14. Black swans and chaos monkeys. Resilience.
  15. A project is a wave. Product over project.
  16. S&T Happens. Planning in a VUCA world.
  17. Webinar: Adaptive IT

    Block 3: Empowered IT

  18. Nobility and pride at work. Craftsmanship, guilds, meritocracy.
  19. The eighth waste of Lean IT. Unfulfilled potential. Skills not roles. Flow to the work. Grow strengths. Shu-Ha-Ri.
  20. Networks of power. Authority, influence, and value networks
  21. Dead Cat Syndrome. Shift left. Dev own Prod. Standing teams. Bring the work to the team
  22. Autonomous teams. Self organising. Self regulating. Self certifying. Scrum. Pull work.
  23. Webinar: Empowered IT

    Block 4: Continuous IT

  24. Max Headroom. Slack, utilisation, demand management.
  25. Doing it forever. Sustainability of work. Burnout. Maker schedule. Systems and culture debts. 
  26. Value Streams, Chains, and Networks.
  27. Get out of the way. Governance, controls, reporting.
  28. Working naked. Visualisation, transparency, inspection.
  29. Continuous delivery. Scrum, DevOps.
  30. Webinar: Continuous IT

    Block 5: Open IT

  31. You can’t get there from here. How to advance towards better ways
  32. Resources from TU. The Unicorn Management Model, supplier engagement, Tipu practices.
  33. Renaissance and enlightenment. What Teal looks like
  34. Indistinguishable from magic. What a Unicorn look like
  35. Webinar: Open IT


So sign up now for the course, delivered to you via weekly newsletter starting in April 2023.  All you have to do is subscribe, no charge.

Blog posts for December 2022

My New Year’s Matariki

I don’t make fixed New Year’s Resolutions that I probably won’t reach, so much as set navigational stars to head for, what Teal Unicorn call our matariki. Here are my five work matariki for 2023.

Singing and dancing

Something profound has happened to how we think about knowledge work – “office work” dealing with intangibles – as a consequence of the pandemic.
I’m beginning to uncover pieces of the new paradigm.

Dehumanising the workplace

As someone who worked for a big American corporation for 16 years, I know we submit ourselves to all sorts of things once we are cognitively captured by the organisational culture.

Employee resource groups

No matter how we organise ourselves, we will always be in siloes one way or another. There will be organisational divisions. It’s important to connect people across those divisions as well. One way to do that is communities of practice , a k.a. guilds or chapters. Here’s another.

You don’t know until you do

It is easy with hindsight to explain why improvement interventions had an unexpected result, missed the mark, or did more harm than good, and yet organisations seem to launch into them with the confidence that they will work.

Three principles of managing change

Here are three brilliant principles of managing change from Eugenio Moliní on LinkedIn

Carve these above the doorway at work.

How technical should a manager be?

How technical should a manager be? Separate managing work from managing people (as we should).

Agile coaching

Agile coaching is a hot topic. It is in vogue in the IT world to heap derision on the whole profession of agile coaching. There may be a quality issue, but stop saying agile coaches need to be software developers.  The discussion is of interest to non-IT people too, so I share it here.

Open Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise Architecture isn’t my field. I did study Zachman decades ago (had a one-day training from the man himself!), but I haven’t done much.

I needed to summarise our ideas at Teal Unicorn in the context of architecture and this is what I came up with.

GPT is fake

Please read this Twitter thread to understand the danger of GPT, the AI content generator everyone is raving about. It’s not real information. It’s a simulation of information.


Get controls out of the way

Controls are essential to protect the organisation’s assets. But achieving velocity through quality requires that all “necessary non-value work” get out of the way of value work. Minimise controls: just enough to control risk, ensure compliance, and monitor performance, with the least possible impact on value work. Experiment with less or lighter control.

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