My favorite song in Hamilton is the “Room where it happens.” And my favorite part of the song is this part:
And the reason is that I had a similar experience in my career, which served to drive all of the rest of my professional success.
It was in 2002, at NetApp. Chris Wagner was the CTO of the NetCache product group and called a meeting of all of the senior engineers who worked on NetCache. And I wasn’t invited. And I remember standing outside of that room, looking in and wanting to be there, inside.
And for the next several years, I struggled to figure out how to get into that room. And I succeeded, and only after I succeeded, I realized I didn’t want to be in the room. Because I realized that the room where it happens wasn’t the room I wanted to be in.
What I wanted to be was George Washington.
See when Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton walk into the room, they are debating options that George Washington was okay with. George Washington had created a strategic framework that they had to operate within.
For example, if George Washington wanted Alexander’s plan to come to fruition, he would have pushed for the plan himself instead of sending his annoying right-hand man to negotiate with James Madison and Jefferson.
Similarly, he didn’t care if the capital was in New York or Virginia. If he had cared, then the topic would have been resolved much earlier, with Washington’s intervention.
In short, George Washington gave the folks in the room where it happens a set of choices that they could make, and he was okay any decision they made.
Strategic Software Architecture done right is about ensuring that any tactical, operational software decision is immaterial and doesn’t affect the long-term strategy allowing individuals to make choices on-their-own that still ultimately produce the right final outcomes. In effect, every decision that gets made is one you are okay with, so you don’t have to be in the room where it happens.