Clusterfucks will happen, and nobody ever really walks away from one a winner.
A clusterfuck can be turned around by either boosting trust, hitting ‘reset’ when it comes to definitions, deliberately seeking out extra understanding, or, if there’s a hollow core of authority – electing a leviathan to run the group.
Clusterfuck avoidance is going to be a major social technology as knowledge worker teams become increasingly interdisciplinary. More problems are bound to happen because the complexity in terms of communication and the specifics of professional norms scales. Just as an example, if a chemist tells the engineer that temperatures from the mix could trough at -200 c, and asks the engineer if the structure could be designed to handle that – the engineer could choose take the question badly. The engineer could take the question as a professional afront: of course she’d check the temperature as part of the normal procedure of being an engineer, and resents the implication that they’re incompetent. Or, the engineer might appreciate the question, the -200 c might raise important points, and the engineer might use the opportunity to ask more questions about the nature of the resulting liquid.
The engineer has the choice to respond in a positive way and to propogate good will and further trust, or, the engineer has the choice to hold a grudge and start clamming up.
We can architect teams and tailor our cultural norms to avoid clusterfucks, and it would be well worth the effort.
Next week I’ll move onto another topic series.