We must butcher the Mythical Unicorn and its magic in order to scale.

Posted by Walt Brown on Sep 20, 2022 2:30:00 PM

As EOS® Implementors we see the “Mythical Unicorn” scenario all the time so I thought it would be fun to write about.

Apologies up front, we have a few metaphors working here:

One is the metaphor of the Unicorn owner, or Purple Squirrel, that odd-ball individual who fills a unique combination of Roles coupled with magical skills, impossible to replicate with one-single person.

The other is their "Mythical Land" in which they rule... That organically grown organization that has evolved around your Unicorn and is based on magic held by the Unicorn and their barn-yard buddies.


If your company’s "magic" is undocumented, then it is a mythical legend, only lasting for a brief time while you are chasing that pot of gold that will never manifest.


If you have not butchered your Unicorn to determine and map the exact Roles your Unicorn plays, then you will always be dependent on the Unicorn and the Unicorn will be trapped - forever.

Good news, the path is simple, maybe not simplistic, but it is straight - we just need to butcher your Unicorn into understandable Roles, and we need to break down their mysterious methods, by slicing and dicing each Job into Roles.


The reason our mythical land exists is due to the Unicorn – Think about it, the Unicorn is typically a rainmaker and it finds itself surrounded by people, barn-yard buddies, who hold Jobs that keep the Unicorn alive.

The organization does not look normal because the Unicorn is unique, and the ecosystem does not fit a normal mold. Super typical with Visionaries and Entrepreneurs.

🦄 Symptoms you may identify with:

The Unicorn realizes it has trapped itself inside a tribal cage and wants to break out. The normal path it sees is this:

"I will replace myself with another unicorn, I must do this because I need to feed myself and my people, I will just hire a number two, a mini-me...  a mini-corn if you will”

This leads to square pegs and round holes.

🦄 Fact:

Another unicorn will not work well with a different Unicorn, remember they are unique, so the systems will typically not plug and play.


Another problem with this thought pattern is unicorns do not exist in the wild, you cannot just hire one, unicorns create their own thing, they are not interested in being in your cage, they must create their own.


Finally, if they are a true unicorn, they will just do their own thing, they can feed themselves, they don’t need you or your rainbow.

🦄 Conclusion:

Finding a mini-me unicorn is a worthless rainbow pursuit.

🦄 Another symptom:

Often there is a unicorn handler who only knows this cage, growing up as the unicorn’s barn-yard buddy. This handler and Unicorn are interdependent, almost like Siamese twins, and the handler will fight like hell for the Unicorn… the handler worships the Unicorn:

“Yes Unicorn, yes precious Unicorn, whatever you say most holy and righteous Unicorn. Ney, ney.” 


This handler is also the keeper of the Unicorn's magical madness.

The Unicorn knows they are trapped and wants to escape. Their business has hit a ceiling, this is when they usually turn to us.

A couple of things are happening. They have “sort of” come to grips with the fact that they are a Unicorn and are not going to find another unicorn to take their place and this extends to thoughts of selling as the only way out.


Before your Unicorn takes that step, let’s take these four steps that will eliminate the pain, anxiety, and potential sorrow.


Step one: We do a Flower Power™ Facilitation** on the Unicorn to determine and define all of the “Magic” Roles they possess and are playing.

Step two: We do a Cracking Eggs and Making Omelets™ Facilitation** to determine all of the thinking Roles that must be owned for the magic to exist without the Unicorn at the helm.

Step three: We butcher the entire organization with the Flower Power “Cleaver” to get a full inventory of all of the Roles that exist inside the Jobs of the company.

Once we have this full inventory of Roles and have mapped them to the 15 Pt Checklist™**, we can gently reconfigure Jobs, adjusting the organization to act like the Unicorn but with real humans, not fictional ones.

Step four: All of this is captured and documented in your Organizational Graph software. https://ograph.io.

The bonus is while doing this, we are documenting the organization, creating a real Rainbow that actually has a pot of Gold at the end of every year.

Sound like fun?  Let’s make it happen.


PS: ** all of the facilitations and stuff I am referencing can be found in my book Death of the Org Chart: Rise of the Organizational Graph.  For a limited time I’m giving copies away for free. Claim yours here.  We also have an on-line video base training program at OrganizationalCognizance.University where you can train yourself.

Topics: Operational Clarity and Consistency, Cultural Clarity and Consistency, Structural Clarity and Consistency, Organizational Cognizance

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