The Ten Commandments for Effective Standards

Practical insights for creating technical standards 

A collection of wisdom and learning over a twenty year period working with colleagues, competitors and standards organizations to bring about standards such as SystemVerilog, VMM and UPF. The text focuses on technical standards, the climate in which standards are created and offers ways to improve the standardization process. Real world examples are included from the EDA industry and other technology industries, as the ten commandments can be applicable beyond EDA.


You can purchase copies of the book through or Synopsys Press, or you can order it through any bookstore. You can purchase copies of the book through or Synopsys Press, or you can order it through any bookstore (ISBN: 978-1617300004).

About the Book

Technical standards play an important role in business as well as everyday life. They provide opportunities for market growth and competition. They enable interoperability. They make customers happier. They bring order out of chaos. Existing technical standards are being updated constantly, and new ones are being produced in increasingly greater numbers.

But do you know what it takes to create an "effective" standard? 'The Ten Commandments for Effective Standards,' written by computer chip industry veteran Karen Bartleson and illustrated by corporate cartoonist Rick Jamison, will not only provide you with ideas for creating better standards, it will also provide you with a newfound understanding of standards and their importance, respect for the standardization process, and ways you can leverage others' industry expertise to help you succeed in creating more effective technical standards.

Based upon twenty years of experience in the area of standards for electronic design automation and ideas drawn from other industry experts, 'The Ten Commandments for Effective Standards' provides you with a list of procedural imperatives about what works and what doesn’t work when developing effective technical standards.

This book will teach you how applying Bartleson's commandments to day-to-day standards activities can help make your resulting standards more effective and easier to adopt. From the Golden Rule of effective standards -- "cooperate on standards, compete on products" -- which points to the essence of standardization, to the tenth commandment -- "know that standards have technical and business aspects" -- which declares the importance of a standard's commercial implications, this book will provide you with a foundation for preparing for and performing in the technical standards arena.

Whether you are already involved in the process of creating technical standards or are interested in learning more about it, Bartleson's 'The Ten Commandments for Effective Standards' is standard reading for anyone pursuing knowledge, excellence, and success in the field of technical standards.

About the Author

Karen Bartleson has three decades’ experience in the computer chip industry. She is known for her work in the area of standards for electronic design automation and continues to serve on several committees that develop technical standards. Karen holds a BSEE from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California and was the recipient of the Marie R. Pistilli Women in Design Automation Achievement Award in 2002.


Karen is the best in her field. Candid and concise, 'The Ten Commandments for Effective Standards' is a must read for individuals interested in developing industry standards. Packed with wisdom and practical insights, readers will be able to apply the learnings!" 
Shrenik Mehta, Chairman, Accellera; and Former Senior Director, Microelectronics, Sun Microsystems

"Karen does an excellent job in illuminating the sometimes murky workings of standards groups. In espousing her 'commandments,' she identifies the often innocuous situations that have caused major issues in the standards world and how to avoid those types of issues in the first place. This book should be required reading for anyone who will be participating in a standards organization, both inside and outside the EDA world." 

Stan Krolikoski, Group Director, Cadence Design Systems; and Chair, IEEE Design Automation Standards Committee

"So, what's the big deal about 'The Ten Commandments for Effective Standards?' First, the author, Karen Bartleson, is a well-respected and recognized standards guru, particularly in technology circles. She understands the ins and outs of standards history, best practices, business implications, and current issues. She really knows what she's talking about. Second, Karen is incredibly gifted in conveying when and why standards are necessary and how to get the most out of them. She writes in a clear and entertaining style, plus she's passionate. Finally, Karen's able to ground the discussion with real-world examples and fun cartoons. This is a must read for anyone participating in standards development!" 

David Lin, Vice President of Marketing, Denali Software

"Karen Bartleson makes it clear that there are no gods or goddesses in standards, but she neglects to mention that she is the Queen of EDA Standards. It's a dirty job, but Karen makes life much easier for any standards committee she belongs to. And now she has written a hands-on and easy-to-read primer for those engineers who wish to enter the important area of standards development." 
Gary Smith, Chief Analyst, Gary Smith EDA

"Standards open the road for a community to remove barriers and progress more rapidly. They create the shared highways for all players—partners and competitors alike—to travel faster. Building on the greater combined wisdom and innovation of the community, standards enable whole industries to evolve quickly, benefiting not only their participating companies, but customers as well. 

Karen provides a vivid insider view of the world of EDA standards creation, capturing this complex process with clear narrative, often punctuated with humor. She supports her writing with real industry examples. While many potential views and perspectives may be argued on particular cases, we should welcome the discourse on standards and their effective construction." 

Gadi Singer, Vice President & General Manager, System-on-Chip Enabling Group, Intel Corporation

"The EDA Technical Committee (EDA-TC) was formed in JEITA in 1990, and aims to drive initiatives of international EDA standardization in Japan. Since then, the EDA-TC has been actively contributing to design language standardization, which most electronic design engineers are currently using worldwide. This year, we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of its birth. 

Karen is one of some active veterans in the EDA standards community, contributing to EDA standards and also being very supportive to EDA-TC activities. I believe this book makes relevant people understand the real value of standards. She will lead them to share her experiences and perspectives through her Ten Commandments. This book is what I really want to have, and I highly recommend it." 

Satoshi Kojima, Fellow of EDA Technical Committee, JEITA

"If you, as a business or individual, are trying to understand whether to participate in standards or understand their value, you will undoubtedly be struggling with many questions, questions that are not readily answered by reading literature from standards development organizations. You will be hungry for experience from a veteran's perspective that is clear to the novice. Karen is the person with that experience. The personal experience and insight she has woven into this book will help you kick start your adventure in standardization. I only wish I had had this kind of insight and guidance when I started out. 'The Ten Commandments for Effective Standards' is simply missing one important commandment: 'Thou shalt read this book before engaging in standards.' 

I highly recommend reading this book rather than learning the hard way. Standardization has many challenges and issues; you must walk into that process with your eyes wide open. 'The Ten Commandments for Effective Standards' is an essential read." 

Jeff Green, Senior Vice President, McAfee Labs, McAfee

"'The Ten Commandments for Effective Standards' is a great companion to the standards developer and for standards committee leadership. It is an even better companion to those who wait for and use standards, as it serves to remind adopters that there are many facets to standards development that need to be addressed to get to a completed standard. This helps explain why it often takes so much time for some standards and why it is fast for others. If you follow the commandments you may have a smoother and quicker path to standards success. I expect standards developer conversations to begin to use more of the terms 'The Ten Commandments for Effective Standards' defines to usher further rapid development of business-relevant standards. As all good standards evolve, I look to Karen to be on the lookout for additional commandments that might be worthy to join the ten she has detailed here." 

Dennis B. Brophy, Director of Strategic Business Development, Mentor Graphics Corporation

"Karen Bartleson is a brilliant and friendly IEEE-SA CAG member. This book introduces practical and useful information for readers with suitable past case studies. As Karen mentions in this book, standardization is sometimes called a 'war.' Readers will understand the severe aspects of standardization processes in reading the fourth and fifth 'commandments.' However, readers will find Karen's friendly smiling face between the lines and will notice other positive aspects of standardization to stimulate the development of new technologies and contribute to market expansion. After reading this small book, I believe that the readers will have the motivation to attend and contribute to standards activities." 

Shinji Tanabe, Ph.D., Chief Researcher of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, IEEE Senior Member, IEEE-SA CAG (Corporate Advisory Group) Member

"I remember the day I first met Karen Bartleson. She had called my office inquiring about being a Synopsys blogger. Usually, it takes time for people to grasp the difference between inbound and traditional marketing, but Karen got it right away. Not only had she kept up with my explanation, I distinctly remember her questions remaining one step ahead of my answers. Within the week, Karen had launched her blog, The Standards Game. 

I've always wondered how Karen grasped the principles of new media so quickly that day-a mystery that was solved after I read 'The Ten Commandments for Effective Standards.' Creating an effective standard requires the same fundamental concepts as creating effective new media. Both involve communication. Both involve people and the myriad of complications that come with them. And, lastly, both require a laser-like focus on the long-term objective: to serve the end-customer before either the standard itself or the corporate politics. 

If you're interested in establishing standards within your industry, this little book is the place to start." 

Ron Ploof, Executive New Media Strategist, OC New Media; and Author of Read This First: The Executive's Guide to New Media-From Blogs to Social Networks

"STARC actively promotes standards in the EDA industry, and this book is an excellent roadmap for anyone wishing to participate in the standards process. Especially in the fast-paced semiconductor industry, following the advice in this book can only accelerate the development of timely, relevant standards which are essential to a healthy EDA ecosystem." 

Nobuyuki Nishiguchi, Vice President and General Manager, Semiconductor Technology Academic Research Center (STARC)

"If you develop technical standards, or if you want to know more about how technical standards are made and what goes into making and maintaining an international technology-based standard, you should read this book. 
Karen Bartleson has managed to put over fifteen years of intensive standards work experience into ten simple-to-understand rules and recommendations. You will see why it is important to be as open as possible, but also that mixing patents and standards requires caution, and how openness among participants is critical to standards' success, but also that, at the same time, everyone has an agenda, and (almost) everyone can be your competition. 

This is an optimistic book! It takes the view that standards are good and that developing a technology standard is a worthwhile investment in time and money. I have worked with Karen on the development of several standards, and I am sure that you will find her book useful and entertaining." 

Oz Levia, Vice President of Marketing, Springsoft

"STMicroelectronics is a leading supplier of electronic chips. Our success as a company relies on the existence of many standards for our products to be successful on the market, standards such as GSM, WIFI, Bluetooth, MPEG, H264, Java. For the successful and efficient design of our products, we also rely on the existence and effective adoption of many EDA standards, such as the ones promoted by Karen in her 'real life,' standards such as Verilog, VHDL, LEF, DEF, SystemC, TLM, IP-XACT, UPF, and CPF. There are many origins for standards: de facto standards, ad hoc standards, standards evolved from open-university work, or former proprietary. Whatever the genesis of a given standard, its success and its value depend on the few parameters that Karen describes in a lively manner in her book: openness, technical relevance, pragmatism, appropriate timing, etc. 

I sincerely hope that this book will become bedside reading for many participants in standards bodies, in the electronics and EDA industries. It will enable us to all speak the same language and to understand the rationale for participation of all participants to standards. Of course, a participant to a standards body has both a technical motive as well as a business motive. Some of these motives may be visible and others not. Through Karen's wide experience and meaningful anecdotes, this book enables any participant to standards to understand the mechanics and politics of what works and what doesn't and why. I hope to see many standards happen faster in the future, thanks to this guide." 

Philippe Magarshack, Group Vice President, Technology R&D, Design Solutions GM, STMicroelectronics

"I have been working with Karen on standards for over two decades. Our extreme success in the standards area is a result of applying Karen's 'Ten Commandments for Effective Standards.' Anyone wanting to find success in the challenging area of standards setting should start by reading this book. It is an indispensable guide to the dos and don'ts of standards setting. Read the book and get started on success. Or ignore the book, and regret it later." 

Rich Goldman, Vice President, Corporate Marketing and Strategic Alliances, Synopsys

"Karen provides a much-needed analysis of and invaluable lessons learned in the process of birthing technical standards. This work provides a clear guide for overcoming the serious pitfalls that have plagued standardization efforts in the past. Karen's practical Ten Commandments are based on time-tested real-world experience and should be mandatory reading for anyone collaborating with multiple suppliers seeking to bring them together to cooperate on any kind of a standard. Karen has eloquently blended together historical case studies with recent technical standardization experiences that not only generally educate the reader but also provide very specific practical guidance regarding avoiding the legal and ethical challenges that can seriously harm corporate intellectual property positions and/or significantly slow valuable industry standardization efforts. No question that future standards, especially future EDA standards, will be more likely to become reality after careful study of this book. Well done, Karen." 

David Peterman, Wireless EDA, Texas Instruments

"It is a safe bet that each of you picking up this book at some point in your life must have been confronted by what you consider a 'good' or a 'bad' standard. We all agree that standards are an essential component of making diverse things (or people) interact harmoniously and, if done well, can accelerate development in a certain field and lead to better outcomes for all. In contrast, ill-conceived standards most often lead to stagnation, fragmentation, and ultimately inferior results. I truly wish that anyone involved in the creation of standards in any field reads Karen's book very carefully. Based on her experience in the field of electronic design automation, Karen has synthesized a clear and transparent set of guidelines on what it takes to create 'good standards.' I couldn't agree more with her insights. My only wish is that the book should have been available many years earlier. It would have avoided a lot of wasted time and misguided efforts." 

Jan Rabaey, Donald O. Pederson Distinguished Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of California at Berkeley

"Sit up and take notice. Karen has created a reference book for anyone involved in the development of industry standards. Her commandments are based on her considerable expertise and experience in the electronics industry. With this book she covers the most important things to consider when developing an industry standard, a process that can be difficult and very rewarding." 

Georgia Marszalek, Public Relations Counsel, ValleyPR LLC