One of the core reasons for organizational clusterfucks is a lack of trust among the participants or groups of participants.

Generally speaking, if there is no trust, there is limited communication (because, of course, refusing to talk to somebody can be a form of limited communication – right?). Even if two respective hierarchies mandate communication, if there is no trust, people on either side will be very crafty in interpreting rules so stringently so as to limit communication. Worse, distrust over years can become pervasive and infectious, like a plaque that builds up. We saw this in the years leading to Air India.

Sometimes there is a legitimate incentivization for distrust. I won’t share competitive information with competitors out of distrust. Sometimes there are just people who have a very different valuation of trust. Trust is like pesos instead of Euros. In environments where trust is so utterly devalued, it would be easy to forecast a high volume of clusterfucks. The difference in exchange rates might make a transaction impossible.

There’s a counter to that, of course –  ‘professionalism’. It sets the expectation that because two people belong to the same overarching institution, regardless if the two individuals trust each other, they trust the overarching institution to actually enforce the rules if one of them cheats. In most cases though, such a leviathan can’t be everywhere all the time, so really, the strengths of such institutions builds up over repeated successes and the rare instances where an executive punishes somebody for breaking the rules.

I suppose just as a country with weak legal institutions really can’t hope to become rich, I wouldn’t expect a company with weak professional institutions to become rich, either.

In sum, trust can be considered a form of social capital and a key factor in preventing a clusterfuck. Where there isn’t any trust, you’ll probably find a clusterfuck.