Back on Track

August 31, 2010

Welcome back! How ya been? I hope that life is treating you okay, cuz I have to tell you, life is treating me so very well. (and so are you!) You've been extremely patient in waiting for the posts... Is it cuz you know how busy I've been? I'd say I'll do a better job at posting more often, but let's not make promises we can't keep. Hey! Maybe if I make it a rule that I can't post frequently... you know I can't help but break the rules. 🙂

Since you're here, I assume you're looking for an entertaining story. Or maybe a relevant moral. Or maybe just that picture of Abe Lincoln saying that you're awesome (still the number 1 lead-in to this site). aim is too lowWell, I can guarantee that you'll find Abe here, but not so much the other things. But I do have a little story (and it could turn out to be entertaining... no really it could - hey 2 out of 3 would be awesome!)

On with the post!

Last week I had a chance to get out of the house, out of the office and out of town. (road trip!) I attended some outstanding Project Management training which not only made me a better, smarter, more handsome person, it also earned me 21 PDUs (Professional Development Units) so that I can maintain my PMP certification. (gotta keep that PMP hand strong!) The class was "Business Management Requirements" and was actually centered around developing the requirements for software applications (I TOLD you my job was exciting), but was also very relevant to the sort of projects that this kid gets roped into to take on.

Since the class was so far away, I even got to stay in a hotel. I don't mind driving, but the hour and a half each way in traffic was gonna be a little not-fun, so I opted for the executive suite. (oh wait.. different post) OK, so it wasn't a suite, but it was pretty sweet. The room was very nice, and the service so friendly! I even got room service. Well, sort of. I had to go get the food from the 'kitchen', but that was okay too. Everything on the menu was very tempting and looked so.delicious. But I was able to suppress those urges and didn't get too out of control... (I am the master of willpower! sort of. sometimes) and I only had the cheesecake. MmmHmmm! 🙂

It even rained while I was there! an awesome little storm just for me. I was just laying there on the bed, minding my own business, and heard a commotion outside. So I tore open the shutters and threw up the sash (I didn't actually throw up the sash. I didn't even eat the sash. I had cheesecake, remember? and I dindn't throw that up either. Just forget that whole last sentence, okay?) and got to watch a little monsoon storm blow through.

OK let's get out of the hotel room and into something more... postlike. The class was 3 days of defining requirements and processes and learning how to be more successful at projects. It was also 3 days worth of ideas for work, personal life (I do intend to get a life someday) and even for us here in .com-land. Part of being successful at projects is being able to break the work required down in to simple, manageable and documentable steps. One of the processes used to define what will happen is to create a Use Case, which is simply (or difficultly, depending on the project) identifying the steps that a process should take. forever would be fineYou identify what outcome you are looking for, and then identify the steps necessary to attain that outcome, assuming that everything works as it should. And that, my friend(s), is called the Happy Path.

Well, you're familiar with how I feel about paths (lovin' this one!) and you know about the Happy Dee, so I've come to the conclusion that the Happy Path might just be an awesome combination of those two things! (not unlike the awesome combination of you and me!)

The wikipedia definition of Happy Path is "a default scenario that features no exceptional or error conditions". And (and, and) if something happens that takes you off the Happy Path, you write an exception and loop right back onto the Happy Path again. (now how cool is that?!)

When I learned about the Happy Path in class and how it relates to business programming, I started thinking (I know, I should be more predictable) about the Happy Path in our lives and how it relates to our own programming. (you gotta love it when a plan/post comes together)

Being a former boy scout (oh yes I was!), I do think that we need to be prepared for emergencies, contingencies, search and rescue missions... but I think that sometimes we spend so much time worrying about the hows and whys and what-ifs that we lose track of the outcome we are looking for. I know that even I get sidetracked (stop laughing) and forget to focus on the Happy Path. Sometimes I'm so careful watching my step that I forget where I'm going!!

As we dance along this path we are on, let's not get lost in the possibility of all that could happen and everything that could go wrong. Let's get lost instead in the possibility of what we want to happen, of what will happen, of what could go right. Should we get off course, let's just write that as an exception and get back on track. We set our own programming by the things that we focus on. Let's make a program that includes happy and crazy (the good kind) and love and joy and together and things that are good for you. Let's focus on the Happy Path.

and an occasional exception/sidetrack to the Happy Dee would be okay too!

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