Thus, the relationship between dark matter and more easily detectable matter is a useful metaphor for the relationship between organisations and culture and the systems they produce.
Strategic design often involves doing what the physicist Fritz Zwicky started doing in 1934 — looking for the “missing mass”, the material that must be inescapably there, that must be causing a particular outcome. This missing mass is the key to unlocking a better solution, a solution that sticks at the initial contact point, and then ripples out to produce systemic change.
The dark matter of strategic designers is organisational culture, policy environments, market mechanisms, legislation, finance models and other incentives, governance structures, tradition and habits, local culture and national identity, the habitats, situations and events that decisions are produced within. This may well be the core mass of the architecture of society, and if we want to shift the way society functions, a facility with dark matter must be part of the strategic designer’s toolkit.9