People Friendly Processes

Here is a simple puzzle.

There are four cards on a table. The cards have numbers on one side and are either colored red or green on the other. What cards would you turn over to verify the rule – If a card has an even number, then the other side is green.

What was your answer? Did you find it hard? You will find the right answer a little further down. Try the next puzzle before you check the answer.

There are four cards on a table. Each card has the age of the person on one side and what he is drinking on the other. Which cards would you turn over to verify the rule - A person has to be over 18 to be drinking alcohol.

What was your answer?

The right answer for the first puzzle is 8 and Red.  Did you get it right?

The right answer for the second puzzle is 16 and Beer. Did you get it right?

These two puzzles are equivalent but less than 10% of people get the first “abstract” puzzle right. While almost everybody gets the second “people friendly” puzzle right. See the details here.

I first read of this in a book called "How the Mind Works". It had another wonderful example of how converting an abstract statement to a people friendly statement is more likely to lead to the right result. I have put that at the end of this blog post.

This concept had a huge influence on me. I started phrasing problems and processes in a people friendly manner and found people getting the right answer far more frequently. If you teach developers abstract processes, most are unlikely to get it right. On the other hand, if you teach developers, people friendly processes most are likely to get it right.

Let’s look at an example

Imagine your grandmother asks you what you are doing. You want her to be proud of you. Your grandmother is very proud of you when you help other people. She always says "Shabash Beta" if she finds you helping others.  “Shabash Beta” translates roughly to "I am proud of you kid"

Developers are told before coding, their first step should be - “Articulate the business benefits, avoiding technical jargon"

Consider an equivalent people friendly process. Developers are told before coding – “First come up with a statement that will make your grandmother say ‘Shabash Beta’ ”

Making People Friendly Processes is a proven method to help people get things right. The entire PowerBoost program is designed around People friendly processes. This is what makes it unique and effective. The key to a successful product that people actually use is user friendliness. The key to a successful process that people actually follow is people friendly processes.

I will soon write about a few more people friendly processes from the PowerBoost Framework.

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The other example of people oriented reasoning that I found in “How the Mind Works” book goes like this.

Sarita says she is itchy. There is a test for Allergy to Cats, but this test is not always right:

For people that really do have the allergy, the test says "Yes" 80% of the time

For people that do not have the allergy, the test says "Yes" 10% of the time

Question: If 1% of the population have the allergy, and Sarita's test says "Yes", what are the chances that Sarita really has the allergy?

This question was asked to some doctors and many said 70%

What is your answer?

 Instead of working in abstractions let us convert it to people statements.

Out of 1000 people only 10 have the allergy (1%)

If you test the 10 who have the allergy the test will say "Yes" for 8 of them (80%)

If you test 990 people who don’t have the allergy it will say "Yes" for 99 of them (10%)

So the test will say "Yes" to 107 people (8+99) but only 8 of these actually have the allergy. So even though the test said "Yes" the chances of Sarita having the allergy is 8/107 that is roughly 7.5%

You should read “How the Mind Works”. It is a fascinating book. Start describing problems and creating processes that are people friendly and you will see how effective it is.