The notion that planning is of little value, seems to be lost on those not accountable for showing up on or before the need date, at or below the needed cost, and with the planned capabilities needed to fulfill the business case or successfully accomplish the mission.
Yogi says it best in our project management domain. And it bears repeating when someone says let's get started and we'll let the requirements emerge. Or my favorite, let's get started and we'll use our perform numbers to forecast future performance, we don't need no stink'in estimates.
Yogi says ...If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.
This is actually a quote from Alice in Wonderland
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where--" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"--so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
(Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 6)
This is often misquoted as If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there. Which is in fact technically not possible and not from Alice.
So What To Do?
We need a plan to deliver the value that is being exchanged for the cost of that value. We can't determine the result value - benefit - until first we know the cost to produce that value, then we have to know when that value will be arriving.
- Arriving late and over budget diminishes the value for a higher cost, since arriving late means we've had to pay more in labor - people continue to work on producing the value. That extra cost diminishes the value.
- Arriving with less than the needed capabilities diminishes the value for the same cost.
Both these conditions are basic Managerial Finance 101 concepts base on Return on Investment.
ROI = (Value - Cost) / Cost
The first thing some will say is but value can't be monetized. Ask the CFO of your firm to see what she thinking about monetizing the outcomes of your work on the balance sheet. Better yet, don't embarrass yourself, read Essentials of Managerial Finance, Brigham and Weston. Mine is 11th Edition, looks like its up to the 14th Edition.
As well, once it is established that both cost and value are random variables about measurements in the future, you'll need to estimate them to some degree of confidence if you're going to make decisions. These decisions are actual opportunity cost decisions about future outcomes. This is the basis of Microeconomics of software development.
So when you hear we can make decisions about outcomes in the future in the presence of uncertainty - the basis of project work - without estimating - don't believe a word of it. Instead read Weston and you too will have the foundational skills to know better.
Because the close loop management processes we need on project and product development require we make decisions in the presence of uncertainty. There is simply no way to do that without estimating all the variance when we Plan, Do, Check, Act. Each is a random variable, with random outcomes. each require some access of what will happen if I do this. A that notion of let's just try it reminds me of my favorite picture of open loop, no estimates, no measurement, no corrective action management.