Teal Space

At Teal Unicorn, we have a favourite approach to workshopping improvement with clients, developed and refined by Dr Vu.  We call it Teal Space because of the influences from Open Space Technology.

We also draw on ideas from Kanban, Value Stream Mapping,  Estuarine Mapping, and others as needed.

It is very effective in aligning everyone, creating momentum, surfacing and ideas, and planning advancement.

Teal Space is one of several rituals we use.


  • People who know the work
  • from all levels in hierarchy
  • Invited people, not ordered to be there


Full day.  Or, if we have to, half day.


in a big room and/or online.

If hybrid, a videoconference facility in the big room is good.  Zoom works.

For breakouts, having all virtual attendees break out together is easier than having each breakout be hybrid.


Zoom, Powerpoint, Miro, Slido, post-its (super sticky!!), walls and whiteboards.

We create an “obeya” (big picture portfolio-level dashboard) on Miro to record outputs from each step.  it becomes a permanent tool for the client.


Most workshops follow this general pattern:

  1. Set principles for the workshop
  2. Define good. WDGLL in the current context (team, organisation, product…)
  3. Set a vision of who we want to be (more than what)
  4. Define a common goal that we can all agree on
  5. Capture the impediments that prevent us doing/being our best. Group them.
  6. Discuss which impediments we can improve and how (usually a SWOT). Break into groups, then come back together.
  7. Create a Kanban of actions.
  8. Agree who and how to start improving.
  9. Close: confirm we have covered every topic raised.
  10. Agree to do this again

Keep it moving

  • At the start, agree we will be focused and fast
  • Cherry’s most popular sayings in a workshop: “yes or no”, and “move on”.
  • Shut down when people start going down rabbit holes or off focus.


From Open Space:

  • Whoever comes are the right people: attendance is by invitation not coercion
  • Whatever happens is the right thing
  • When it’s over, it’s over
  • Law of mobility: if you’re not adding value or getting value, move on

Plus we add:

  • We are here to improve not complain.
  • It is what it is. We don’t need to surface history, grudges, blame, lost opportunities, how we’ve gone backwards etc.
  • Focus: No rabbit holes
  • Move fast to get results
  • No lectures, grandstanding, mansplaining
  • Be present. Camera on, laptop and phone down.  If you don’t want to be here, go somewhere else.


  • cafe style seating
  • pens and postit super-stickies, any colour
  • bare walls, or big flip-chart paper on the walls

Each round

  • Facilitator announce the topic of the round, give some motivational thoughts
  • Ten minutes to write postit notes
  • 2 or 3 senior staff (who know the org and its language) work the wall area, collating notes as they come in, grouping them by idea.
  • In a large group, >100,
    • Deliver when ready no need to wait until the end of the round.
  • In smaller groups,
    • wait until end of round.
    • each table read out their notes
    • collate on the wall table-by-table
  • Top execs might highlight their picks. They should certainly be taking notes.
  • Facilitator reflect on key themes, and some of the best ideas
  • Consider having a couple of staff recording notes into a Miro board

Sample topics for each round

  1. Mission: the reason we exist
  2. Our value proposition:
  3. Our competition
  4. Who (not what!) do we want to be in the future?
  5. What does success look like?
  6. Strengths
  7. Weaknesses
  8. Opportunities
  9. Threats
  10. Our principles that we work by
  11. Improvement ideas: People and culture
  12. Development and training
  13. Compensation: how to pay people
  14. Systems: operating model, resources, organisational structure
  15. Practices and processes
  16. Technology