I'm not exactly sure of the context in which the phrase was used. It could mean translating the problem into logical parts and then those discrete parts into code.
However, it seems to me that thinking like a programmer could be detrimental. For instance, I'm standing on the curb at the airport about ready to check some bags for the family. I think to myself: "I will make sure I have all 3 bags." So I count them: 0, 1, 2. Then I think "Oh no, I'm missing a bag!" And after puzzling for a few seconds realize I made a mental off-by-one error.
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