THE CHALLENGE IS CHANGE: A MANANAGEMENT PAPER
by John A. Zachman, President, Zachman
© Copyright 1993-1997 Zachman International, Inc. All Rights
John Zachman - "The Challenge is
Change: A Management Paper"
Change is happening. Few thoughtful people would argue with
this observation as multitudes of people are being impacted
personally as well as organizationally. Virtually every
enterprise is being stretched to the limit, attempting to
maintain its viability and/or profitability in the face of
unparalleled uncertainty and change in every dimension of its
environment ... from consumer to supplier, from competition and
regulation to its own culture ... and, there is no respite in
sight. Credible social and business prognosticators, notably
Alvin Toffler ("Future Shock" 1970) and Peter Drucker
("Managing in Turbulent Times" 1980) have been
anticipating this ever-increasing rate of change for decades, so
no enterprise, no manager, no person should allow themselves to
be caught by surprise.
Paradoxically, it seems that few enterprises have developed
strategies for addressing change as an issue in its own right,
not merely change in its products, but change in the enterprise
itself. It can be convincingly argued that unless an enterprise
has developed an explicit strategy to accommodate the
dramatically increasing rate of change, the enterprise is likely
- banking on "more of the same" ... that is,
depending for survival on working harder and faster, or
- hoping beyond hope that some technological "silver
bullet" will appear and (mystically) remove the
complexity and trauma of assimilating radical change.
Working harder and faster leads to organizational burn-out,
and chasing after "silver bullets" only leads to
disillusionment, both of which further complicate the
enterprise's ability to accommodate change, neither of which is
realistic for addressing an issue of such significance that it
effects the very destiny of the enterprise.
There is substantive precedent for assimilating high rates of
Learning from Airplanes and Buildings
Conclusions can be drawn about strategies for managing change
that are not merely based on theoretical speculation, but on
proven experience with how change is managed in complex physical
products (like airplanes or buildings.) Some substantive effort
has been invested in observing the process of building complex
engineering products, studying the disciplines of Architecture
and Construction as well as Engineering and Manufacturing, with
the intent to apply their experience to "building"
enterpries. Resident in these older industries is a wealth of
knowledge about how to produce relevant, complex products into a
dynamic marketplace as well as knowledge about how to maintain
and change those products once they are built, even in the face
of ever-changing usage requirements and technologies. That is the
challenge of the modern enterprise: to be relevant in the context
of its dynamic marketplace and to maintain that relevance even in
the face of a dramatically changing environment and technological
When one applies Architecture and/or Engineering concepts to
enterprises, it becomes evident that designing and changing
enterprises is not any different and is certainly not any easier
than designing and changing buildings or airplanes. As a matter
of fact, in both cases, when change is not explicitly
anticipated, the result is early obsolescence and the only
difference between building or airplane junk yards and enterprise
"junk yards" is that enterprise "junk yards"
get strewn with people and non-depreciated assets rather than
metallic parts and plastic components. This would suggest that an
explicit strategy for accommodating change must be defined and
employed in order to ensure the life of the complex product (e.g.
enterprise) is long enough to recover the investment that
produced the product (enterprise) in the first place.
Making Enterprise Design and Change Comprehendible
A useful approach to make enterprise design and change
management comprehensive and yet, comprehendible, is to describe
the architectural (or, engineering) process, identifying the
descriptive representations that are created and used for physical
products. With this as a basis, it is straight-forward to
identify the equivalent process and descriptive representations
for conceptual "products" (i.e. enterprises.) It is by
no accident that many of these enterprise representations are
recognizable as models or, "deliverables" from the
process of developing information systems. Furthermore, it is
easy to see the logical relationships (structure) of the various
descriptive representations of the enterprise and its systems
which can be depicted as a "Framework for Enterprise
Architecture." (See Figure 1 below.)
The older disciplines of Architecture and Manufacturing have
accumulated considerable bodies of product knowledge through
disciplined management of the "product definition"
design artifacts from which the Framework was derived. This has
enabled enormous increases in product sophistication and the
ability to manage high rates of product change over time.
Similarly, disciplined production and management of "Enterprise
definition" (i.e. the set of models identified in the
Framework for Enterprise Architecture) should likewise provide
for an accumulation of a body of Enterprise knowledge to
facilitate enormous increases in Enterprise sophistication
and accommodation of high rates of Enterprise change over
Figure 1 -
set of descriptive representations (models) relevant for
describing an Enterprise, analogous to the set of descriptive
representations relevant for describing an airplane, or a
The key to accommodating change in the knowledge-based,
Information Age enterprise lies in the "engineering"
discipline for building and managing the enterprise models
coupled with the cultural discipline to employ the resultant
models in the on-going operation of the enterprise.
In short, there is excellent precedent in the older
disciplines of Architecture and Manufacturing that provide
guidelines for addressing the challenge of change confronting the
modern enterprise. The key lies in producing and managing the
descriptive representations of the Enterprise which are analogous
to the descriptive representations of of any complex physical
product, and which are defined by the Framework for Enterprise
Architecture. Build models, store models, manage (enforce) models
and change models ... the only rational Enterprise response (with
substantive precedence) to meet and accommodate the
"Challenge of Change" that is so evident a
characteristic of the "Information Age."
Back to Contents.
- "A Framework for Information Systems
Architecture", John A. Zachman, IBM Systems
Journal, Vol 26, No 3, 1987. IBM Publication G321-5298
(Phone: +1-914-945-3836 Fax: +1-914-945-2018).
- "Extending and Formalising the Framework for
Information Systems Architecture", J.F. Sowa and
J.A. Zachman, IBM Systems Journal, Vol 31, No 3, 1992.
IBM Publication G321-5488 (Phone USA: +1-800-879-2755).
- "Framework for
Enterprise Architecture" by John Zachman,
President, Zachman International. Published on IES Web
Site, May 1996.
Back to Contents.
John Zachman is the
author of the "Framework for Information Systems
Architecture", which has received broad acceptance
throughout the world as an integrative framework for managing
change in Enterprises and in the systems that support them. He is
not only known for this work, but also for his early
contributions to Business Systems Planning, IBM's widely
used information planning methodology in the 1970s, as well as Intensive
Planning, the basis for IBM's executive, team planning
Mr Zachman has focused on planning and information strategies,
and on architecture, since 1970 and has written many articles on
these subjects. He travels nationally and internationally,
teaching and consulting, and has facilitated innumerable
executive team planning sessions. He is a popular conference
speaker known for motivating messages on information issues. He
has spoken to thousands of information professionals and business
managers on every continent.
John Zachman is a member of the International Advisory Board
of the Data Administration Management Association, DAMA
International; a member of the International Information Resource
Management Advisory Council of Smithsonian Institution in
Washington DC; and of the Board of Directors of the
Repository/Architecture/Development Users Group.
John A. Zachman
2222 Foothill Blvd. Suite 337
La Cañada, Ca. 91011
(Phone and Fax)
Back to Contents.