People programming


  • Gather a list of programming and computer science concepts that you can then use as a starting point when thinking about what to write about.
  • Gather a list of sources of information from which you could get these computer science and programming concepts

Background on the idea

  • I got this idea while working at the Silicon-Valley startup Infer, where I became obsessed with the internal wiki they were using (Confluence), and spent many, many hours organizing it and thinking about it.  Eventually I settled on a way of organizing instructions that was very step-by-step, much like when you're writing a computer program.  I then thought it would be interesting to explore all the ways that the management of people could be improved by applying ideas from the programming of computers.  Hence the idea for this book / audiobook / course.

Ideas for chapters/lessons

  • Give a detailed explanation of how to use Confluence to organize information for your company.  You can use your company-wide email as a starting point.
  • Go through lots of different concepts of programming and discuss how they could be used for management.
  • Think about what the future of management might look like / what kinds of apps could exist in the future based on this idea.

  • Scale - API for Human Labor
    • I found out about them when I was on Tinder and a (probably fake) profile mentioned it at the bottom of her profile.
  • Mechanical Turk
  • Create a procedure for resolving disagreements, for example between founders of a company.

    • "Think about the mediation of software; this is a warehouse at What they call a 'product distribution center' or something like that. And there's a bunch of workers wandering around there, filling up boxes with things. But the workers really have no idea what they're doing. What the workers are actually doing is following instructions on a computer which is strapped to their wrist, which is literally telling them exactly where to walk, what to do, what to pick off the shelf, they don't have to know what it is, they just have to scan it with the little barcode and throw it in the box. And so the entire process is mediated through software, through computer software. And in fact, when you think about it, those workers, in an Amazon warehouse, are really just a kind of output device for the software developer who's trying to write code that is going to cause a box to be packaged and shipped and sent somewhere."

Simple English websites



Misc ideas

  • When programming it's really helpful to step through the code, one step at a time. Similarly, when people-programming, it could be very helpful for managers to "step-through" the steps involved in their subordinates' jobs in order to get a sense of where things are going wrong. But AFAIK most managers never do this.
  • When dealing with human employees there's often a lack of standardization that makes it difficult to efficiently call for help
  • Humans often don't have an efficient way of referring to a series of steps that they need to follow.  For example it's not like the next instruction they need to follow just pops up in front of their face.
  • Think about different computer innovations like tor and what the analogous application might look like with humans.
  • You should come up with a list of common problems that people encounter when managing and working as employees and how thinking about management as programming could solve those problems.  For example Yang was having trouble delegating tasks because he was not taking the time to specify how the task should be performed.  We also had trouble hiring because nobody ever took the time to specify what we were looking for in employees.  An employee's often have trouble when starting because no one has taken the time to specify how the job should be done step by step.

Related ideas

  • McDonald's' extensive operating manuals
  • The US military's extensive field manuals