A little gem from Dave on Day 1 of the Cognitive Edge Accreditation course we’re hosting in Pretoria:

The Dark Matter Theory asserts that there is much matter in space that we cannot see, but we know it exists because it exerts gravitational effects on visible matter. When it comes to organisations, and the complex way in which they operate, the dark matter theory can be applied i.e. there are things/forces that happen in organisations that we cannot see, but we know they occur because they have an effect on visible components of the organisation.

The difference is that in organisations, we can use narrative techniques to surface the “dark matter” in a tangible way. For example, we ran a narrative enquiry with a client recently that surfaced some organisational archetypes. Prior to the project, the leader could not understand why his staff complained about being overworked when there clearly was not an overload in the system (the visible effect). When analysing an archetype that emerged out of the narrative process, we discovered the dark matter: that employees had very little authority over thier workload and the task requests they had to contend with daily.