Flowcharts as explained by The Clash

Flowcharts are diagrams that map out every processing step or decision in a workflow. You can use them for just about any workflow you can think of. Ordering a pizza, getting ready for work in the morning, reading this Medium post. All these interactions involve processing steps and decisions that can be mapped in a flowchart. Easy enough, right? Let’s move on.

All flowcharts are composed of three simple components:

A processing step or activity, which is usually denoted as a rectangular box

A decision, which is usually denoted as a diamond

Arrows, which will indicate if activities have a one-way or two-way relationship. Dropping a package in a mailbox is an example of a one-way relationship whereas calling the post office to see if the package was delivered will be an example of a two-way relationship.

Flowcharts help users make decisions with a holistic view of the possible consequences, so there might be no flowchart more frustrating than that of the The Clash’s seminal “Should I Stay or Should I Go”.

In this song, Mick Jones describes the fork in the road he’s approached in his relationship: he can either stay and commit to his significant other or leave knowing it won’t develop into anything more. The only possible consequences are trouble or double, so he’s fully aware of the bad news that awaits him. He’s simply become too exhausted by the unexpected swings in the relationship not to address this question (see “one day it’s fine the next it’s black” (Jones, 1981)).

This flowchart is pretty simple since there are only two outcomes. There’s really only one decision too, but Jones tries pressing his audience by rewording the question (see “if you say that you are mine” (Jones, 1981)). The only confusing thing is why it takes so long to make a decision. If one option will cause twice the trouble of its alternative, is there really a decision to make? This would certainly qualify as a leading question, so we can either assume Jones wants to break things off but wants his significant other to be the one to do it, or that he’s the worst salesman in the history of music.

Here’s hoping the readers of this post are faced with more enviable decisions in the weeks to come.