Say it skills for software

I’m in charge of the tech team here at Power of Two and I’ve been amazed at how the principles of Power of Two are applicable in a much wider frame than just relationships. It’s even had a signficant impact on the the way we program our systems.

I recently wrote a blog post “Does your software talk like a four year old” which discusses how and why software needs to just say it. As Dr. Hirsch explains

The first principle in terms of talking is to say it. Say it is the basis for communication and information flow which in turn forms the foundation on which couples are able to make excellent collaborative-feeling decisions. And to keep a feeling of positivity and intimacy because they know what is on each others mind.

What does that have to do with software? Everything! When you work on a computer you are having a conversation. As you speak (type) to the computer it echoes the input back on the screen so that you know it has heard correctly. The conversation is even more apparent when you ask your computer doesn’t do something you want.

A windows alert popup box
Alert - we are having a conversation!


When software has good say it skills it says what it wants or needs. “Please insert the disk” or “Please enter your password”. Unfortunately a lot of the time software simply says what it doesn’t want or can’t do. “Unable to read this file” or “Invalid input”. This type of message creates frustration and anger because you are left with little idea of what to do next. This is exactly what happens when you use “don’t want” statements in real life. Luckily, we humans are still more subtle and complicated than a computer, and we can have productive conversations. So take advantage of it!


I certainly hope that none of our software creates such anger. And please, if you do hit something that creates frustration please tell your coach so that we can fix it.