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Zachman Framework Rows. What are they?

Written by John A. Zachman on Thursday, 19 March 2015. Posted in Zachman International

Rows = Perspectives = Reification

After 30 years of talking about this, I am still shocked at the predominant misconception that the Rows of Zachman Framework define "level of detail," or "waterfall," or "decomposition." This is just not true. The Rows of the Zachman Framework define TRANSFORMATION, NOT decomposition. Level of detail is defined in the HEIGHT of each cell (or Row), NOT the height of the Framework itself. While I originally I called the Rows "Perspectives," the underlying theory that defines the Rows is the philosophical concept of Reification.

One day in Houston, I was doing a seminar for some folks and was describing the Perspectives that constitute the second dimension (the Rows) of classification depicted by my Framework and some guy in the back of the room said, “Ohhh! That’s reification!” I said, “Re-if-a-what???” I never heard the word before. I said, “spell it for me” “R-e-i-f-i-c-a-t-i-o-n.”

It turns out that “reification” is a word that comes out of Philosophy. The etymology of the word is from the Latin, where “RE” means “thing” so “RE - IFICATION” would mean "Thing-ifcation," making a thing, an instantiation, out of an idea that you can think about such that the thing (instantiation) bears a resemblance with the idea that you start with. Plato and Aristotle and apparently some assemblage of early Philosophers knew that an idea that you can think about is one thing but the instantiation of that idea is a totally different thing... and if you want the instantiation to bear any resemblance with the idea, the idea has to go through a well-known set of transformations.

Reification (Rows of the Zachman Framework):

  • Row 1: First you have to Identify it, name it so you can have some discussion about it.
  • Row 2: Next you have to Define it, the semantic intentions. The meaning, the structural definitions of the Enterprise components. The elements of Row 1 did not get more detail, they were transformed into a different perspective.
  • Row 3: Then you Represent it as all engineering is done with representations, not physical material. 
  • Row 4: Next you Specify it based on the implementation technologies available. 
  • Row 5: Next you Configure it based on the tooling to be used.
  • Row 6: Then, you Instantiate it- it becomes reality.

 ZF Reification

If the idea goes through this set of transformations, the Instantiation will bear resemblance with the idea. Reification is likely the more fundamental definition of the Rows of the Framework since it has been employed by humanity for several thousands of years. However, there is a strong correlation between Reification and the Perspectives as I identified them from the older disciplines of Architecture and Construction and Engineering and Manufacturing. This should not come as a great shock... there is a natural classification structure, it is manifest consistently in any application or discipline.

About the Author

John A. Zachman

John A. Zachman

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).

Mr. Zachman retired from IBM in 1990, having served them for 26 years. He is Founder and Chairman of his own education and consulting business, Zachman International®. He is also the Executive Director of the Federated Enterprise Architecture Certification Institute (The FEAC® Institute) in Washington, D.C., as well as the Chairman of the Zachman Institute™, a non-profit organization devoted to leveraging Zachman International's vast network of professionals and resources to offer services to small businesses and non-profit 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 (DAMA-I) from whom he was awarded the 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award. In August 2015, Mr. Zachman was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for “recognition of his long term impact and contribution to how people think and practice Enterprise Architecture today, leaving his mark on generations to come” by the Global University Alliance and LEADing Practice. 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. In August 2011, he was awarded the Gen. Colin Powell Public Sector Image Award by the Armed Services Alliance Program. In November 2013 he was acknowledged for Achievement and Excellence for Distinguished Innovative Academic Contribution by the IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society Technical Committees on Enterprise Information Systems and on Enterprise Architecture and Engineering.

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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