Dark Matter and Trojan Horses — A Strategic Design Vocabulary

AUTHOR: Dan Hill

PUBLISHER: Strelka Press

YEAR: 2015

CATEGORY: Design Theory

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If there‘s any book I would have wished to find on my desk when I first started out working in the innovation team at the Süddeutsche Zeitung it would have been this.

“Dark Matter and Trojan Horses” is a long essay trying to define a literal vocabulary for enacting and stewarding change inside complex organizations. Hill‘s examples are for the most part the results of his work at the Helsinki Design Lab and it‘s work at the outskirts of public policy, city planning and the nordic model.

It‘s not always an easy or straightforward read, so don‘t expect a how-to type of lists of methods and things you should do. Change is complicated, especially if you want to mindful of it. This book is a good start at understanding why things might fail and how to cope with them. It‘s theory based on praxis and experience.

What I took away from it

  1. His notion of „Dark Matter“ as a force connecting and influencing groups of people and especially companies. It‘s a bit fuzzy, but useful once you grasped it fully.
  2. His critique of design thinking, which is the first long critique I read on the method. I never felt at home with working with design thinking but he boils it down nicely. (Don‘t expect a five star dinner from amateur cooks.)