A few weeks I took a three day, online class for work. The subject it covered was an IT documentation process called “Use Cases.” And, yes, it was as boring as it sounds.
Use Cases detail the sequence of events that a person or system does to effect the desired outcome. They are most often used in creating or modifying software, but really could be helpful for all sorts of processes.
Think about using an ATM. Someone, somewhere probably wrote a use case for accessing it:
Customer inserts card
System reads card
System displays PIN prompt
Customer enters PIN
System validates PIN
System displays main menu
During the class the instructor talked about “the happy path”. These are the steps, when executed, have no flaws or exceptions. The machine was working properly and able to read the card. The customer entered their PIN correctly.
For some reason that phrase, the happy path, really annoyed me.
Did I mention that the class was a bit boring? While I was in this class, I had the Cavs victory parade streaming on my other monitor. The Goodyear Blimp was there and several times the TV station cut to a view of the crowds from overhead.
One point three million people. Celebrating. Happy.
Then I knew what was so annoying about that phrase.
Since when does something go just so, absolutely perfectly? In my life it doesn’t. Go back to that ATM. I’ve dropped the card. Entered the PIN incorrectly. Put the card into the machine upside down. But, in the end, I got my cash. And that's just a little thing. What about the bigger ones?
I watched that parade. There was no flawless path to victory. LeBron came to Cleveland. Then he left. And then he came back. Last year when the Cavs made it to the playoffs, and ultimately the finals, injuries – a dislocated shoulder in one player and a busted kneecap in another – hampered their abilities.
It almost looked like this year was going to be a repeat of last when a major player had to sit out of one of the final games due to a concussion. Not again. But persistence, hard work and faith in their own abilities paid off.
Northeast Ohio held their collective breath the last two minutes of game seven. That victory was fifty-two years in the making.
Don’t tell those one point three million people it wasn’t a Happy Path.