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.

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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