Prologue

There’s only so much you can do alone. Eventually, you have to bring others on board to create great things. Together.

In a sense, that is what we are wired to do. We are social creatures, and any progress we’ve made as a species has resulted from a community effort. The application I am using to write this text, the computer it is running on, the cloud storage used to store it, and the platform on which it will be published — none of that would have been possible without dozens, hundreds, and sometimes thousands of people joining forces to co-create. Creating great things together requires us to communicate. 

What was natural until not long ago has become one of the most challenging aspects of our lives. We are engaged in more activities and have more goals to achieve. We need more people to help us achieve these goals. We are flooded with information and requests. Our attention span has shrunk. We communicate all the time, but most of our communication is in vain. Instead of being an enabler, for many of us, communication is a burden — an overhead preventing us from achieving our goals. 

Contemporary communication is broken. It costs us more than the value it provides. It kills our productivity and, more importantly, our motivation. We have replaced the joy of creating things together with eye-rolling and rants about practically any email we receive, every meeting we are invited to, and every ping from our instant messaging apps. We have excellent reasons for skepticism and cynicism, but we have even better reasons to do something about it. 

The work on this book started with two realizations. The first was that workplace communication, as we typically experience it, is bad for business and practically anyone taking part in the ongoing chaotic conversation. The second realization was that to solve this problem, we need a thinking framework – a language that will allow us to talk about the challenge, experiment with alternatives, and design custom solutions for different scenarios and contexts. Halfway through writing, I realized that the challenge of broken communication and the framework I was working on were not limited to the workplace — they perfectly fit any situation where we want to join forces with others, use our collective brainpower, and create things together. 

If you and your team have goals you need to achieve at work, you use communication within the team and with other stakeholders. If you are a freelancer, communication is the foundation of working with your clients and helping them achieve their goals. If you plan a family vacation or a move to a different house, you must communicate to make it work. Communication is essential to many aspects of our lives, but when communication is broken, any of these scenarios can turn from an opportunity to a frustrating and damaging experience. 

The Communication Flows framework can help us improve our communication whenever we need to create things together. It is built on what we are wired to do naturally and tries to overcome the pitfalls of modern communication platforms, tools, and habits. It is a toolbox that will help us craft and refine solutions to different needs. 

If you are looking for a silver bullet, you won’t find it in this book. The only thing I can offer is a framework that will enable you to gradually turn communication from an illusion into an enabler.

Scroll to Top