My story

Communication in business badly needs some fresh thinking


The following is only offered as an invitation to those who might want to know more about the thinking behind the tools, approaches and methods I teach. Rest assured, no client in my 30 year career ever settled my invoice because I had some nice, fancy ideas: they cut me the check because I made a positive difference for them. But I am also passionate that communication in business badly needs some fresh thinking.

If you’re an engineer or scientist and realized one morning that there had been no new ideas in your field for the last three decades, you’d be appalled. For some reason, too often we tolerate the same old stuff being shared about human communication, and hope that this time, and for us, it will make a difference. I’m here to tell you, it won’t. 

Everything I learned about communication...

...I learned when I was studying English Language & Literature at Oxford, and then touring the globe with my theater company in the late 1980s.

It turned out to be a perfect education for helping a world that seems to want to deny its natural urge to connect. Because all businesses need to connect (with their people, with their customers, with their suppliers) - and not because connection is a nice-to-have, or some warm fuzzy feeling, but because it’s the only way to get things done. No-one can do it alone. There are no heroic leaders, in that sense.

And then, after all the literature and theater, came the last 30 years consulting to the business world, trying to encourage leaders to understand the extraordinary power, range and grace of true communication. And how amazing it is that we humans developed language. Everything we do is formed and shaped in words. Try and tell me about something happening in your work or life right now that is happening outside of words, of language.

So what is the big truth that I received from studying literature and doing theater? It is that all true communication is a mutual, symbiotic process. The actor and the audience, the author and the reader, are co-creating the experience. The actor and the author are not more ‘important’ or ‘critical’ than the audience or reader. There is no separation. It is the unity in the relationship that is the source of what gets co-created.

In theater and literature, what is co-created is, hopefully, pleasure. In business, with really smart people talking with other really smart people about practical business outcomes, what is co-created is, hopefully, powerful results. But you don’t get to that by worrying about how impressive your deck looks.

The great understanding is that communication is not a reporting device, but a co-creative force. Most communication experts out there try to tell you how to report better. I don’t.

Author, Consultant & Speaker

David Firth

David helps global clients institute profound practices for leadership engagement that encourages all people to be the source of change - rather than its victims or objects. This, he suggests, is not a top-down or even bottom-up shift, but an inside-out one. 

Current and recent clients include Mars Inc, Jardine Matheson, Campbells, Pepsi, Softys, Unilever, and the International Olympic Committee. He works largely with VP, C-Suite, and HIPO Emerging leaders, but can make the truth of this approach resonate at any level in any organization.

As an expert in human communication, he has been engaged on programs that become remembered as ‘the jewel in the crown’ for clients’ leadership development. For Unilever, he helped design and co-facilitate – alongside Professor Jan Hammond of Harvard – the APP course, which ran 15 times over 11 years. For Mars, he has played a key role in the year-long Supply Leadership Development Program, which has run annually since 2011.

David’s books are a provocative complement to traditional thinking about leadership and business, and include Unconditional Communication, How to Make Work Fun!, The Corporate Fool and the subject of his TEDx talk, Change Your World One Word at a Time.

Kian Chambers
Who would have thought I could learn so much from ANOTHER ‘communication effectiveness' program? The focus shifts totally from me to the audience, so eyeopening! This was a new take on communication for me & I feel the tools will be very powerful & useful.
5 / 5 stars

It all starts with a conversation..

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If your team could benefit from improved communication or if you've tried communication training before and it hasn't worked, reach out today to book a discovery call with David — and find out how we'll change that.

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