Skip to content

“What do you want me to do?”

I was struck by Charles Severance saying that computers are really just little machines that are waiting for us to tell them what we want them to do – and are ready to what we ask several billion times per second.

It’s worth stopping and mulling it over: in your pocket you likely have more raw computational power than was available to all of humanity for most of history (see this amazing graphic) . And it asks you, “What do you want me to do?”

Well – what do you want it to do?

This is one of those questions that technological progress brings into sharp focus: given the phenomenal power at your disposal and the unprecedented range of choices available to you, what do you think is worth doing (that is, important enough that you’ll actually have a very good shot at making it happen), and how should it be done?

This is the same question you need to answer for the people who work for you. And as with the computer in your pocket, it’s quite possible that you’ll want them to do something they can’t quite do.

This leaves you with a a choice between putting in the effort of writing a new program so that they can do the thing you’re hoping for, or accepting that the thing you’re hoping for can’t be done for you by a colleague or a computer – which will allow you to stop feeling disappointed that they can’t do it for you.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...