Start The Revolution

ESL is much easier to implement if you understand how your organization works and where to begin.

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By Jon McDonald
“Know thyself.” That advice is promoted in so many different forms it’s hard to know where it started. I have been involved in a number of projects recently in which these words would have greatly simplified the project flow. “Simplified” is probably not quite the right word. The issue in this case is not to simplify the project, but to properly understand, characterize and communicate the complexity inherent in electronic system design today.

At DAC last month I had a bit of an epiphany about the acceptance of ESL through the highest levels of the management chain. This acceptance is very encouraging and many may feel it’s been too long in coming.

The steps we must take from this position of acceptance to leverage this state of grace are critical. I believe these steps need to be centered on identifying what we know, what we don’t know, and what are the most important things we need to know. In other words we need to “know ourselves.”

From an ESL perspective this involves understanding the state and capabilities of the various disciplines within our organizations that must work together to attain the benefits of this ESL revolution. Numerous times I’ve seen projects struggle and stall because the drivers did not understand or did not want to admit to the limitations of their own organizations. Make no mistake, adopting an ESL methodology is a revolutionary endeavor. The key is to understand that it does not have to be, nor should it be a revolution for all of the groups involved at the same time.

There are many potential areas where we can start the revolution, but the shape and path of a successful revolution must be planned based on knowing both the organization’s strengths and weaknesses. If the hardware group is at a point of needing more detailed analysis to determine the optimal implementation, hardware may be the best focus for the initial steps down the path. Much can be done at the hardware architectural analysis level without having to disrupt the systems or software groups. Likewise software or systems may be the most receptive areas. Ultimately all areas of the hardware/software/systems engineering organizations will be affected and benefit from the ESL revolution.

By knowing ourselves we can begin in the area that allows a smooth transition with early tangible benefits that will allow this ESL revolution to feel like the natural progression of the engineering processes.

–-Jon McDonald is a technical marketing engineer for the design and creation business at Mentor Graphics.