Version numbers and extreme dangers in misuse of the term

There is a lot of confusion about the desirable attributes of things and of ideas.

With things, computers, gadgets or software, there is a good reason for wanting to acquire the “latest” or at least a recent version. Manufacturers often drop support for versions deemed too  old to support, and you want the benefits of latest features, or simply to be part of the in-crowd. Even with methodologies, with the procedures and steps to accomplish a task, we can have different approaches to tackle the job.

However, when we are talking about ideas and our knowledge of the natural world, then it makes no sense to refer to versions. How many versions of truth are there?

I am prompted to write this because a self-proclaimed EA expert, has launched what he calls “version 2 of Enterprise Architecture (EA)”. This is based on the completely erroneous claim that version 1 was only about technology while the “new” version 2 is about business and technology. At worst, the claim is an absolute lie, and at best a gross misunderstanding of EA (understandable since his title was software architect in a previous role). It is like saying that there is now a second version of the periodic table – the list of all the elements in the world, the stable foundation of all of the material sciences.

The very meaning of EA is a descriptive representation of the entire enterprise viewed as a holistic system, with defined and interconnected parts. This will necessarily include the business parts as well as the technology parts of the organization or enterprise. So, it is like calling a set of four wheels a version 1 car, and the complete car the version 2 car.
A quick look at the book “Finding Out More” by Simon Seow  (published in 2000) and the Zachman Framework (ref www.zachman.com) will lead you to the same conclusion.

TOGAF, by the Open Group is iterating through it’s 9th version, and it’s still work-in-progress. So who is right?

Zachman is right, and the Open Group is right. Architecture is architecture. And construction work is construction work. The Zachman Framework is a mechanism for arranging the complete set of elements used to build, maintain and modify enterprises. TOGAF is a methodology that is used to do the building. A methodology must necessarily have versions, because management preferences and technology will change over time, leading to changes in the process of building /making things including enterprises. But the architecture framework, as a reference point,  should never change. (except for fine tuning of the words used in terminology or the symbol/notation used). Hence the Zachman framework rows and columns have been consistent over the years.
Engineering work changes. The science behind the engineering work should not change. Unless of course the science used was wrong in the first place, and this likely explains why so many enterprises are drowning in their enterprise architecture efforts.

Simon Seow 17 June 2015

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About Ed Simon

This is my user name as Editor of this blog. Some site visitors may already be acquainted with the different areas of my interest. I am uncertain how I should classify myself. I have lived studied and worked in Malaysia and in the UK for long periods. I have also travelled to many other countries for both work, pleasure, and just "wandering". I leave the postings to tell about my areas of work and interest, so as not to bore you with a lengthy (and probably embellished :-) recount of my triumphs and tribulations.

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