ORGANISATIONAL DARK MATTER
A NEED FOR CHANGE
Let us imagine you are a superhero living in a universe that is dying, collapsing in on itself, and you need to build a new expanding and safe universe. A good starting point would be to copy another universe, one that supports life, and is growing.
Using your superpowers, you copy everything you can see in the good universe, galaxies, solar systems, planets. You go on to arrange them in your new universe to occupy positions relative to each other as they did in the original. So now you have your new universe, supporting life and growth - or do you?
WHAT DID WE MISS ?
The first thing you’ll notice is the galaxies, and solar systems in the new universe do not interact in the way you expected. Some galaxies will spin faster than expected, some slower, and the solar system are unstable even chaotic. More worryingly, your new universe does not have the expected velocity, and it is not expanding; it is slowing down and collapsing in on itself.
Why would the copied universe behave so differently from the original? Because we only copied what we could see and in doing so neglected to copy the "dark matter", the 80% of the universe mass that affects everything in the universe. This phenomenon is devilishly difficult to detect, and without it, our copied universe is a very different place from the original.
THE CORPORATE UNIVERSE
Organisations who aspire to copy successful companies operating model, like Spotify, or use a framework like SAFe, face the "dark matter" dilemma. An increasing number of companies are finding they are not getting the behaviours and outcomes they expected.
Reference models and frameworks contain valuable learning, but they miss essential practices, behaviours and actions - this is "organisational dark matter".
And even if you are not looking to copy Spotify or adopt a framework, you current "organisational dark matter" is likely to be poorly understood and leveraged.
MORE THAN JUST CULTURE
"Organisational dark matter." is not a fancy phrase for culture. Its a term for neglected behaviours and relationships that impact the organisation and business. And those overlooked behaviours that make you unique and successful you should do more often.
Yes, culture is part of the story. However, you can have an agile culture and still fail if you are missing some of the critical behavors and actions we have identified.