The Issue Is THE ENTERPRISE

John A.  Zachman
John A. Zachman Chief Executive Officer, Zachman International Read Author Bio || Read All Articles by John A. Zachman

In the Information Age, the characteristics we understand to-date are complexity and change.  The customer wants a product specific to his or her specification ... a custom product.  The customer is a market of one.  And the customer may not even know what they want until they want it and then they want it now ... immediately.  And, if you can't produce to those requirements, click!  They get a new supplier.  Once again, it is a global market and very easy to switch suppliers.

The question is, what is your strategy to accommodate orders of magnitude increases in complexity and orders of magnitude increases in the rate of change?  And, this is not an IT issue.  The question, Chief, is not whether this is happening or not ... it IS happening.  The question is, what are you going to do about it?

This is the point of taking the time to develop the characteristics of the Information Age.  The characteristics we know of at this point in history are complexity and change.  To address complexity and change requires a shifting strategy to assemble-to-order which, from an Enterprise perspective, means managing an inventory of parts that can be assembled into more than one Enterprise, that is, Enterprise Architecture.

The issue is NOT an Information Technology issue.  It is not about building and running systems.

The issue is not even a classic Management Consulting issue.  It is not simply about developing strategy, solving management problems, or implementing a management system (governance).

It is about engineering the Enterprise — ENGINEERING the ENTERPRISE to accommodate extreme complexity and extreme rates of change so it does what you want it to do and so it can be changed dynamically (assembled-to-order) to maintain its viability in a complex and dynamically-changing Information Age environment.

Seven-thousand years of history clearly establishes that the only known strategy to address complexity and change is:  ARCHITECTURE.

If the object you want to create is sufficiently complex that you can't see it in its entirety at the level of definition required to create it, you will have to describe it ... ARCHITECTURE.

Once the object is created, if you ever want to change it, the basis for making changes is the descriptive representations required to create it ... ARCHITECTURE.

The key to complexity and change is ARCHITECTURE.

In my 1998 article, "Enterprise Architecture:  The Issue of the Century," I argued that the Enterprise that can accommodate the concepts of Enterprise Architecture will have the opportunity to stay in the game ... and the Enterprise that cannot accommodate the concepts of Enterprise Architecture is not going to be in the game.  I might observe that a lot of Enterprises have been falling out of the game of late.

This raises the question, "What is Architecture ... and, specifically, Enterprise Architecture?"

This column can also be viewed on John's blog — presented here, with permission.

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Standard citation for this article:


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John A. Zachman , "The Issue Is THE ENTERPRISE" Business Rules Journal Vol. 18, No. 1, (Jan. 2017)
URL: http://www.brcommunity.com/a2017/b890.html

About our Contributor:


John  A. Zachman
John A. Zachman Chief Executive Officer, Zachman International

John A. Zachman is the originator of the "Framework for Enterprise Architecture" (The Zachman Framework™) which has received broad acceptance around the world as an integrative framework, an ontology for descriptive representations for Enterprises.

Mr. Zachman is not only known for this work on Enterprise Architecture, but is also known for his early contributions to IBM's Information Strategy methodology (Business Systems Planning) as well as to their Executive team planning techniques (Intensive Planning). He served IBM for 26 years, retiring in 1990 to devote his life to the science of Enterprise Architecture.

Mr. Zachman is the Founder and Chairman of his own education and consulting business, Zachman International®. He is also Founder of the Zachman Institute™, a nonprofit organization devoted to leveraging Zachman International's vast network of professionals and resources to offer services to small businesses and nonprofit organizations as they prepare for and experience growth.

Mr. Zachman serves on the Executive Council for Information Management and Technology (ECIMT) of the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) and on the Advisory Board of the Data Administration Management Association International (DAMAI) from whom he was awarded the 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award. He was awarded the 2009 Enterprise Architecture Professional Lifetime Achievement Award from the Center for Advancement of the Enterprise Architecture Profession as well as the 2004 Oakland University, Applied Technology in Business (ATIB), Award for IS Excellence and Innovation.

Mr. Zachman has been focusing on Enterprise Architecture since 1970 and has written extensively on the subject. He has facilitated innumerable executive team planning sessions. He travels nationally and internationally, teaching and consulting, and is a popular conference speaker, known for his motivating messages on Enterprise Architecture issues. He has spoken to many thousands of enterprise managers and information professionals on every continent.

In addition to his professional activities, Mr. Zachman serves on the Elder Council of the Church on the Way (First Foursquare Church of Van Nuys, California), the Board of Directors of Living Way Ministries, a radio and television ministry of the Church on the Way, the President's Cabinet of The King's University, the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Citywide Children's Christian Choir, the Board of Directors of Heavenworks, an international ministry to the French speaking world and on the Board of Directors of Native Hope International, a Los Angeles based ministry to the Native American people.

Prior to joining IBM, Mr. Zachman served as a line officer in the United States Navy and is a retired Commander in the U. S. Naval Reserve. He chaired a panel on "Planning, Development and Maintenance Tools and Methods Integration" for the U. S. National Institute of Standards and Technology. He holds a degree in Chemistry from Northwestern University, has taught at Tufts University, has served on the Board of Councilors for the School of Library and Information Management at the University of Southern California, as a Special Advisor to the School of Library and Information Management at Emporia State University, on the Advisory Council to the School of Library and Information Management at Dominican University and on the Advisory Board for the Data Resource Management Program at the University of Washington. He has been a Fellow for the College of Business Administration of the University of North Texas and currently is listed in Cambridge Who's Who.

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