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Ten commandments of effective standards!

June 3, 2010

Karen Bartleson, Senior Director, Community   Marketing, Synopsys.

Karen Bartleson, Senior Director, Community Marketing, Synopsys.

Do you know how to distinguish between a ‘good’ standard and a ‘bad’ standard? Or, how would you go about trying to develop a standard in the first place? What makes a standard ‘effective’?

Are you wondering why am I asking such questions? Here’s why: Today, Synopsys sent out a release stating that under the imprint of Synopsys Press, it has published The Ten Commandments for Effective Standards.

I was absolutely thrilled when I discovered the author’s name — Karen Bartleson, Senior Director, Community Marketing, Synopsys and IEEE-SA Corporate Advisory Group member, who I met just about three months ago, during a seminar in Bangalore on IEEE Standards for Design Automation: Their Impact on an industry.

Back then, I enjoyed discussing with her how Synopsys was making use of the social media to connect with its customers. You can find the blog post in the March 2010 archive.

The Ten Commandments for Effective Standards is available for a retail price of $29.95 hardcover, $19.95 softcover and $14.95 eBook through bookstores and online, including through Happy About and Amazon.com. So, I hopped on to Amazon.com to have a look. Here are the chapters! Quite interesting!

Cover of Karen's book!

Cover of Karen's book!

1. Why standards?
2. Why effective standards?
3. The 1st commandment: Co-operate on standards, compete on products.
4. The 2nd commandment: Use caution when mixing patents and standards.
5. The 3rd commandment: Know when to stop.
6. The 4th commandment: Be truly open.
7. The 5th commandment: Realize there is no neutral party.
8. The 6th commandment: Leverage existing organizations and proven processes.
9. The 7th commandment: Think relevance.
10. The 8th commandment: There is more than one way to create a standard.
11. The 9th commandment: Start with contributions, not from scratch.
12. The 10th commandment: Know that standards have technical and business aspects.
13. Go Forth and Standardize.

Now, I’m not so lucky to lay my hands on Karen’s latest book. However, I’ve requested her to send me a copy, if possible.

But guess what, I managed to speak with Karen tonight, after all! I started by asking what compelled her to write this book?

She said: “As Synopsys created its publishing imprint, Synopsys Press, I volunteered to write the first book in the Business Series. Because standards are one of the areas where I have the most experience, and because I’d written short blog posts about good practices for standardization, it seemed like a natural topic for a book. I’d also searched for a similar book and finding none, decided that there could be a demand for it.”

I also quizzed her about ‘good and ‘bad’ standards. She added, “While I list several characteristics of both “good” and “bad” standards, the overall distinguishing factor of a “good” standard is that it’s widely adopted.”

And, how can the overall standardization process be improved? Her reply, “Leveraging proven processes and organizations, understanding business concerns, using alternate ways to create standards when appropriate, and learning to cooperate on interfaces while competing on products.”

Since it’s too late here in India, I only had three more questions on standards. First — the use of when mixing patents and standards. She said: “Patents that must necessarily be infringed upon in order to implement a standard pose a real challenge to standardization. These patents, called “essential patents”, can stymie a standards effort. Imagine if you implemented a standard, then were sued by an essential patent holder for doing so. There are several ways to deal with essential patents, some of which I describe in the book.”

There’s a chapter ‘Realize there is no neutral party’ — what’s that supposed to mean? Karen said, “It’s important to recognize that everyone who participates in a standards project has a reason for doing so. It puts people’s behaviors in perspective.”

Finally, ‘There is more than one way to create a standard’! What’s the secret? Karen concluded: “The traditional formal standards committee is what most people think about when they think about how standards are created. However, there are other ways to create them. One example is the open source model for creating standards that Synopsys pioneered in the EDA industry.”

Many congratulations and best wishes to Karen!  Thanks a lot for taking the time to speak with me tonight!

  1. Karen Bartleson
    June 3, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Dear Pradeep,

    Thank you for this wonderful post! I appreciate it very much. Standards are challenging and creating them is more interesting than most people think.

    I’ll send your copy asap. I think you’ll enjoy the funny cartoons, too!

    It was a pleasure meeting you in India. I wish you well.


  2. Yoon Kim
    June 7, 2010 at 12:57 pm


    Even though I haven’t had a chance to read your book yet, based on the chapter titles, it looks like it addresses a lot of good topics and questions that people have about standards. A couple of things that stood out were the first commandment, ‘Co-operate on standards, compete on products’, and the 4th commandment, ‘Be truly open’.

    I completely agree with both of these but there are cases where these practices are not being met. For example, SDC and liberty are not standards, and SVF is not open. How should one decide when to make something standards or open? Shouldn’t customers have some say on this as well?

    The EDA360 vision calls for openness and standards and as the chapter titles of your book suggest, it’ll be great if we can all march toward that vision.


  3. June 7, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    The EDA industry still has miles to go before it can achieve any relevant degree of openness.

  4. Kishore Karnane
    June 9, 2010 at 8:22 pm


    It’s good to see that you’ve written the book on The Ten Commandments of Standards. I like the titles of the 10 chapters. I guess that I will have to read the book too. 🙂

    As we all know, on the Digital Verification front, there are many “standard-driven” solutions but on there are not many “standards” on the mixed signal verification side. As the ICs, SoCs and systems move to mixed signal, we should apply the positive “standards” experiences learned from the digital verification domain to the mixed signal domain.

    So, it’s great to see that you’ve documented some good practices for standardization. Being able to integrate the analog and digital domains to provide a mixed signal verification solution for silicon realization is one of the key components of the overall Cadence EDA360 initiative.

    Silicon realization represents everything it takes to get a design into silicon and it involves the creation and integration of large and complex digital, analog, and mixed-signal IP blocks.

    I believe that having “good” standards to help the industry with silicon realization could really be a great start. Also as Yoon states, The EDA360 vision calls for openness and standards and it would be great to drive towards effective standards and a common goal.

    Looking forward to reading your book.


  5. June 10, 2010 at 12:14 am


    Thanks for your comment. You’ll see in the 8th commandment that open source standards, such as SDC, Liberty, and OpenAccess are indeed standards. A standard does not have to come from a formal, accredited committee in order to be useful and widely adopted.

    The 3rd commandment includes ideas about when to start a standard. Yes, customers should absolutely have a say in standards, not only when to start them but also what goes into them.

    You’re probably not old enough to remember the EDASpine initiative that was created by Synopsys and Cadence. We’ve had the vision of openness and standards for a long time. With each new technology wave, we have new opportunities for this.

  6. Karen Bartleson
    June 10, 2010 at 12:21 am


    The book isn’t too long, so hopefully you’ll find it a quick read. I hope you enjoy it.

    I agree, applying what we’ve learned in standards for digital design to analog and mixed-signal is good for everyone. The IPL Alliance is particularly interesting these days as it develops interoperable PDKs which have been noticeably absent.

    The EDA360 vision reiterates what leading EDA companies have been saying – and doing – for several years. http://bit.ly/bU2vPG

    P.S. If you send me your address, I’ll send you a free copy of my book. 🙂 Yoon, too!

  7. Bassilios Petrakis
    June 11, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    I have not read your book either. Would love to. Amen to The 1st commandment: Co-operate on standards, compete on products. I totally agree with this. Easier said than done although judging from past history because of Commandment 10; standards have business implications. Would love to see the industry converge on a common power intent interoperable subset for CPF and IEEE 1801.

    The EDA360 vision should be a model for fostering better cooperation on standards amongst EDA companies as well as the rest of the electronics industry.


  8. June 11, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Interesting to find so many folks from Cadence commenting! And, not missing to mention EDA360! 🙂

  9. Mike Carrell
    June 11, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Hi Pradeep,

    Long time reader, first time commenter…

    I’m glad to see that Karen has put her rich experience on standards into a book and I look forward to reading it! (What ever happened to the EDIF standard?)

    An aspect of Crossing the Chasm occurs to me, that after the early adopters have embraced a technology, more inventors will see that success, see a standard, and target their development efforts around a standard.

    A standard brings cost-efficiencies (and profitability) to the process since everyone is not re-inventing their own wheel.

    And to be sure, PROFITABILITY is a key aspect of the EDA360 vision.

    Thanks again for the heads up about the book!
    +++ Mike

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