Sunil Dutt Jha, CEO of iCMG with Enterprise Architecture 'guru' John Zachman, in Bangalore, May 28 2011 ( IndiaTechOnline photo)
Managing change and complexity with Enterprise Architecture

‘The system is the enterprise!’
‘Maybe it’s time to take off our Industrial Age glasses!’
‘Enterprise architecture is not an expense; it is an asset’
‘If managing change is the biggest challenge for your enterprise, why are there no ‘Vice President (Change) in your organization?”

The aphorisms come thick and fast when you talk to John Zachman, one of the original developers of IBM’s Business Systems Planning (BSP); pioneer and ‘guru’ of enterprise architecture, CEO of Zachman International, and originator of the Zachman Framework, a standard for classifying the descriptive models that comprise enterprise architecture.
In Bangalore last week, to conduct one of his regular workshops in India on Enterprise Architecture, in partnership with iCMG, Zachman spoke to IndiaTechOnline, explaining why creating a formal architecture for any business or enterprise is key to successfully operating, managing and changing that enterprise enterprise.

He prefaces his workshops with a long – really long -- historical view: "If you search seven thousand years of the known history of humankind, to find how humanity has learned to cope with two things, complexity and change ... there is one game in town, ARCHITECTURE. How do you think they build hundred story buildings, or Boeing 747's, or IBM supercomputers... or even simple things like a one-bedroom house or the PC on your desk? Somebody had to write it down... at excruciating levels of detail... ARCHITECTURE. if you want to change any of those things (with minimum time, disruption and cost), how do you change them? You go to what you wrote down... ARCHITECTURE.

We provide below, extracts from a Q&A with John Zachman (courtesy iCMG), where he explains the basic premise and promise of enterprise architecture .

What is enterprise architecture? Enterprise architecture is a set of descriptive representations of an enterprise, required for creating, operating, managing and also changing an enterprise. If you want to create a complex object you have to be able to describe it. If you can’t describe it, you can’t create it. If you want to change what you create, you have to have the descriptive representations in order to do so. If you don’t, you may be able to change it, but it may involve risks and you may do the wrong thing, plus lose what you created entirely. The whole idea of architecture comprises two things: one for creating a complex object and one for change.

The basic problem enterprises face today is that they are really complex but they were never really designed, they happened over long periods of time. So, processes get complicated because there is no order.

But you have to keep it running and keep each administrative process related to the other. And that is the general administrative cost of running the business. Then there’s the fact that it doesn’t produce anything useful; it just keeps the whole thing working.
As you get more disorder in the enterprise, you get more general administrative costs. It’s not inconceivable that the cost of operations will get to a point where it exceeds the value of the enterprise.
This is when enterprises go extinct and out of business. The cost of operations reaches a stage when it cannot produce anything which is relevant to the market and then goes out of business in effect.
What are the components? The architecture for anything will have building materials—that describes what the object is made of, then it will have functional specs that describe how it works; geometry or drawings that describe where the components are; operating instructions that describe who is responsible for what; timing diagrams—when things happens and design objectives— why it happens.
It’s just like a journalist needing to have five important elements—what, how, who, where and when in a story. Guess what? An enterprise has the same thing! It has building materials—inventory structure; the functional specs — that’s the process model; distribution model—that’s where things are; work-flow model—that’s who is responsible for what; and you have the dynamics model—that’s when things happen and why. That’s architecture — it’s a set of things.
What is the crux of your argument? The whole concept of enterprise architecture is only about 50 years old. We don’t have a few thousands years of wisdom around the subject yet. Therefore, there is a limit to the amount of experience in the domain. Also, most people who come from IT today are thinking of building and running systems and not about engineering and manufacturing enterprises. My argument here is that the end objective is to build and engineer an enterprise, not to build and run systems.
What is the Return on Investment? It’s an intellectual asset, so the answer lies in how much your enterprise is worth. You are building a knowledge asset, so there is no return on investment! It’s a complicated problem with no simple answer.
Where is enterprise architecture , most useful? Those areas which minimize general operating costs, change enterprise with minimum time disrupt to cost, and are able to dynamically adapt to demands placed on an enterprise by the external environment. Make it lean, mean and change it with minimal cost.
So Enterprise architecture is like a blueprint for an enterprise? Yes, it is a schematic representation of the various components in an enterprise and their relation with each other. These include inventory, network, process transformation, business concepts, etc. The framework also tells you how a change in any one component or artifact will affect other artefacts related to it.
Footnote: The Zachman Framework is an Enterprise Architecture framework for enterprise architecture, which provides a formal and highly structured way of viewing and defining an enterprise. It consists of a two dimensional classification matrix based on the intersection of six communication questions (What, Where, When, Why, Who and How) with six rows: the scope contexts, business concepts, system logic, technology physics, component assemblies and operations classes. 
John Zachman: is the originator of the “Framework for Enterprise Architecture” which has received broad acceptance around the world as an integrative framework, or "periodic  table" of descriptive representations for Enterprises. Zachman is also known for his early contributions toIBM’s Information Strategy methodology (Business Systems Planning) as well as to theirExecutive team planning techniques (Intensive Planning). He retired from IBM in 1990, having served them for 26 years. He isCEO  of his own education and consulting business, Zachman International and Chairman of the Board of Zachman Framework Associates, a worldwide consortium managing conformance to the Zachman Framework principles.  Zachman has been focusing on Enterprise Architecture since 1970 and has written extensively on the subject. He is the author of the book, “The Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture: A Primer on Enterprise Engineering and Manufacturing.” He travels nationally and internationally, talking to thousands of enterprise managers and information professionals on every continent.

For the full version of the Q&A: 

Link to Zachman Framework info: 

May 30 2011