The Unicorn Project

Table of Contents

The First Ideal: Locality and Simplicity

Locality means keeping systems loosely coupled, so that features can be delivered faster. Being able to develop, test and deploy value quickly to customers is only achievable if we aren't impeded by a complex nest of dependencies, or reliance on other teams who may potentially become blockers.

Not just locality with code, but there should also be locality with decision making too.

It makes little sense having one centralised committee, who may have little to no basis upon which to make good decisions about a product. Instead, decisions around value should be localised as close to the product or system as possible.

A tangible manifestation of this is usually in the drive towards microservices. The goal is to isolate a feature into the smallest possible package, so that value creation (a new module, feature etc) requires only a change to that one service, in order for the rest of the business to benefit. The alternative might require changes from multiple teams who own different disciplines such as logging or security.

Speaking of, keeping cross-cutting concerns in one place, such as logging or retry policy, enforces the idea of simplicity. It should be simple to make a policy change and have it flow on to the rest of the business.

Business systems and organisations are one of the few things within our control so we should aim to keep those systems as simple as possible, yet no simpler. With that simplicity comes ease of work.

The Second Ideal: Focus, Flow and Joy

Daily work shouldn't be a monotonous grind, waiting for other teams. You sohuld be able to work on small portions of work, that roll out quickly and return fast, continual feedback.

This feedbacks helps everyone maintain a broader picture of the journey that the business is on. With that feedback, we can learn and continuously improve business practices, both for ourselves and our customers.

The Third Ideal: Improvement of Daily Work

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The Fourth Ideal: Psychological Safety

There should be a concerted effort to encourage a culture where psychological safety is valued.

All business have problems and solving them requires honesty, which only comes about through an absence of fear.

We also want people to feel safe voicing wild ideas, because they may often be the out-of-the-box concepts that translate into a multi-million dollar business division.

The Fifth Ideal: Customer Focus

Perhaps one of the most important ideals, we should always be questioning whether each piece of work produces value for the customer… or value for us.