How to Succeed

Here is Teal Unicorn’s formula for success in advancing towards Open ways.

Our clients are getting such amazing results . How do we do it?


At its heart our “secret” is simple:

To change how you work, you must first change how you manage the work, to unlock change in the work.

So we focus on shifting the mindset and behaviours of the executives and management.

[Updated 20/12/2022]

Our message to executives is simple:

  • Employees first. Value for customers, owners, all stakeholders follow from this.  The organisation exists to allow people to be better together than apart.
  • You can’t make people do good work, especially knowledge work. You need them to want to. You can only invite, motivate, and inspire, then get out of the way and enable.
  • Respect, empower, and trust your staff. People want to do their best.
  • Be better people. Aspire to teal. Reflect on your own behaviours and their effect, the messages they send.
  • Make work better: improve results, and – even more – improve the working lives of your staff.
  • Embrace failure. Make it an asset not a cost.
  • Fix the system not the individual. Unreasonable systems make people unreasonable.
  • When you make a move,  make it “open, then closed”.  Use Collaborative Community Rituals, as Teal Unicorn calls them.
    • Get everybody together
    • Diverge on ideas
    • Converge on actions
  • Ask questions, don’t tell. The answers are in your staff. Explore together.
  • Have a coach or coaches. The answers lie in those doing the work, but they will benefit from facilitation, objective reflection, and the injection of experiences and theory.
  • Don’t try too much. Step by step. Experiment locally. Experiment with anything in our book  The agile Manager, small a, especially
    • Team goals not individual. Work as a team.
    • Collaborative rituals within and across teams.
    • Change how managers manage. Servant management.
    • Visualise work.
    • Skills not roles – fluidity of work. Let people self assess as shu ha ri, with peer review.
    • Self organising teams – fluidity of structure
    • Cross functional teams
    • Work with staff to simplify work systems. What do they need?
    • Map the value stream(s). Simplify flow.
    • Open the books, be transparent about finances.
    • Let staff work out how to apportion pay, first the bonuses, later the salary.
    • Pay people to leave. Work harder at recruiting the right people.
  • There is no standard template. Don’t ask us consultants for answers. Every group is different.
  • You don’t need to believe or trust me. Try it.

So we press these levers:

  • Motivation of employees: ensure they’re motivated, by vision and and by the right incentives.
  • Management: completely change attitude, style, role, and process of management. Stop telling, controlling, forcing, and punishing. Start inviting, collaborating, serving, and being transparent.
  • Morale: lift the spirits of employees, make working life better, get results, cut the crap, make the game winnable.
  • Method: show them how to change how they work, so that they reduce overburden, constraints, non-value work, and waste.

We do have some special advantages at Teal Unicorn that allow us to always be successful:

  • Cherry does have prestige, credibility, and connections that give us C-suite access.
  • Our clients are self-selecting: they seek us out, we don’t do any sales or marketing.
  • We are also selective. There have been a few prospective clients where we agreed with them that they weren’t ready to improve.
  • We consult in modern ways. Above all, we don’t come with answer and we don’t do it to people on behalf of management. We let the people doing the work design the work.  It comes from them. We are but midwives to the solutions.

That’s it. No one method: we teach Lean, Agile, Kanban, ToC, Kaizen, Toyota Kata, whatever… It doesn’t matter. It’s all ingredients, it’s all Lego. We must rise above method. What matters is Human Systems Adaptability, especially the human bit.

Here is another way of summarising it:

First, we never use the word transformation, only advancement. We don’t believe in big bang anything.

Secondly we don’t do change to people, we do it with them. And their managers the same.

Third, and following on, we don’t come with answers, with stock boilerplate like the BigC, only questions. The answers lie in those doing the work.

Fourth, we do preparatory work for months training and coaching execs and management . Because they are the key.

Fifth, we introduce a small set of patterns and rituals that we find effective in enabling change.

As a result, we get rapid change in organisations, up to hundreds of people, that is so far it might be perceived as a step change but it’s not, it’s just a steep improvement curve. In companies of thousands or tens of thousands, not so much. It is of course a more steady advance. Nevertheless, in a year they look quite different.


The results speak for themselves. Tens of thousands of followers, book selling out in hours, dozens of happy clients, from lingerie to banks, and millions of dollars of value for them. We make work better: better results, better lives, better society.

Can we do the same for you?

(Really want to know the formula?  This is as near as we get to one)