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    Monday, November 26, 2007

    The ASIC Factory (Part 5) : The Toyota Way For Fabless ASICs

    This post is part 5 of the application of the 14 principles of the Toyota Way to the ASIC design process. To catch up, you can either read Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 and Part 4 or click on principles #1 through #8 below.

    #1. Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.

    Create a continuous process flow to bring problems to the surface.

    Use "pull" systems to avoid overproduction.

    #4. Level out the workload (heijunka). (Work like the tortoise, not the hare).

    #5. Build a culture of stopping to fix problems, to get quality right the first time.

    #6. Standardized tasks and processes are the foundation for continuous improvement and employee empowerment.

    #7. Use visual control so no problems are hidden.

    #8. Use only reliable, thoroughly tested technology that serves your people and processes.

    #9. Grow leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy, and teach it to others.

    If corporations are organisms, corporate culture is akin to the genes. People, like cells, come and go but the culture of the corporation remains unchanged. What determines corporate culture in the first place? As someone once wrote, things that get rewarded get done. The same goes for corporate culture. The culture that gets rewarded gets followed. This is great if your culture is the one you want. But, what if you're at A and you want to get to B? Effecting cultural change is not easy but, atleast, it's slow :). What is the best way to get from A to B and stay there? When you advance and reward people who live by and understand philosophy "B", you not only set in motion the change of culture from A to B but also, through positive feedback, ensure that the change sticks. Using visible and respected leaders who live, understand and spread the philosophy is one of the best ways to make this happen.

    #10. Develop exceptional people and teams who follow your company’s philosophy.

    If #9 was about getting the right "PR", this principle is about live demos. The evangelizing leaders are ok but you have to give people something to hold up and say "See?! this stuff works!". This principle works as a two-step process . Step 1: get people and teams to work within the defined process. Step 2: get exceptional. When exceptional work is accomplished using the defined process and tools, the corporate philosophy gets reinforced in the minds of the engineers.

    #11. Respect your extended network of partners and suppliers by challenging them and helping them improve.

    When it comes to ASIC design, there are not many companies that can go it alone. A typical fabless ASIC has EDA partners, IP partners and assembly and test partners. You could think of customers as partners in this context. Why would you want to challenge and help partners improve? Whether you like it or not, each of these partners is a co-pilot. If there's a problem with an IP macro, a project using the IP gets delayed until the IP is fixed. What if you could help your IP vendor deliver quality collateral the first time around?If you're an IP company, you probably spend a lot of time supporting customers whose IP is not integrated correctly. What if you could help your customers integrate your IP correctly the first time? Everybody wins!

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