Zachman Version 3.0

John Zachman recently announced a new version of his framework. You can download a PDF with the new framework from Ron Ross, and you can read a concise definition of the Zachman Framework on the official Zachman site.

As always, it is interesting to see what John has to say, but is this a major change, and are there any new insights? Here are some thoughts that I added recently to a discussion on LinkedIn – Time to rethnk Zachman?:

Even disciplines that have been around for centuries need rethinking, so in a comparatively recent and emerging discipline like Enterprise Architecture there are going to be a lot of new ideas and techniques. So I think the question is – does version 3 of the Zachman Framework address the need for constantly rethinking what it means to be an enterprise architect, or what it means to architect?

Version 3 doesn’t appear to be radically different from version 2… or even version 1. One could even argue that constancy is one of the most obvious characteristics of Zachman’s work. I first met John Zachman in 1991, and I’ve been following his thinking since the early 1980s; I consider him both a colleague and friend. His greatest strength is as a champion and evangelist for enterprise architecture, and a passion and enthusiasm for his framework which makes it appealing and inspiring to his many followers.

Version 3, like earlier updates to the Zachman Framework, is a clarification – it reflects how John’s thinking has evolved, but it is still based on the key principles and ideas that he described in his original work. It does not challenge any of the original ideas – for example, in the way that my article on Information FrameWork [IBM’s Systems Journal 1996] described a radical rethink of the 1987 Zachman Framework.

So back to your original question: is Zachman relevant? For me the answer is an emphatic yes, but with some provisoes… As one of the leading thinkers in this space, Zachman has had a profound impact on the discipline and how we think about architecting an enterprise. To discount Zachman and say that he is no longer relevant would be like dismissing Roman and Greek architecture and its relevance to contemporary building. But as with the comparison with the Romans and Greeks, the relevance is more to do with the fundamentals – the principles and theory is absolutely necessary to understand what enterprise architecture is all about – but it needs to be mixed with a whole lot of other things.

Yes – Zachman is relevant. Version 3 has some new insights. But to really understand enterprise architecture and to be an effective architect requires much more.