Our transition from 2011 to 2012 was certainly predictable. In fact, I planned the event. My family traveled to the Hemisfair near San Antonio's River Walk and viewed firsthand how humans mark this arbitrary calendar shift from one year to the next. New Year's Eve also happens to be my birthday, so I claim that 250,000 of my closest friends celebrated this closure of yet another year unto my life. There was wine atop the Tower of America, margaritas on the River Walk, champagne in the hotel, an elevator with bright lights moving up the tower counting down the year, and an explosion of fireworks when we collectively reached our destination. I knew where to be and when to be there - I predicted the future!
Was the future predictable enough? Yes, but that didn't stop me from being ignorant and just plain lucky. When I went to buy our $11 admission ticket to the Tower of America observation deck, the kids were disappointed to find it was closed. It seems it shuts down once a year while setting up fireworks and other lights. That was predictable but I failed to foresee it. Instead, we rode the elevator to the bar, above a restaurant and just below the observation deck. For the price of admission, we all enjoyed the view with a drink (anti-sobriety for the adults only). Sometimes, things work out for the best. But I know we would not have been happy later that day had we waited to eat dinner around 6:00 PM. You couldn't move forward along the River Walk, much less sit down and have a meal. We ate around 3:30 PM after lunch and before dinner. There was no wait for an outside table on that eventful, sunny 74°F day. This was a predictable and desirable outcome.
We pick our destination, plan way-points along the path, and bring along what we may need on our journey for times less foreseen. In our software development journey, we call our planning project management, requirements elicitation, architecture, and design. Testers, users, and owners appreciate a predictable automation solution that results from all this planning. Yet, organizations still deliver brittle systems that lack adaptability, agility, exception/error handling, and performance. Should we be surprised predictability and desirable outcomes require planning? When development starts ahead of planning, that which must be built in is instead later built out = lower satisfaction, rework, lost time, and higher cost. Planning is an enabler to innovation by design. Enjoy your year and imagine what you can do with it!