2003-01-05 – TRIZ – the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving

TRIZ actually stands for the Russian for TIPS, but there we go. Since they invented the system in the 1940’s, it is theirs to name!
The Essence of TRIZ:

Recognition that technical systems evolve towards the increase of ideality by overcoming contradictions mostly with minimal introduction of resources.

Thus, for creative problem solving, TRIZ provides a dialectic way of thinking, i.e., to understand the problem as a system, to image the ideal solution first, and to solve contradictions.

Dr. Toru Nakagawa, Osaka Univ.

I have done only one day of this course, at time of writing, in the capable hands of Oxford Creativity. I know that the system works, as I have now taught it to others, and I am busy writing some interactive software for this server, to avoid carrying an A3 laminated sheet with me all over the place! (I am lugging a laptop anyway, normally!)
TRIZ is quite an offensive system in some ways, since it will challenge a great many deeply held beliefs in some people, and, although I knew a fair bit about it, and already use many of the core concepts every time I invent or design a system, having a matrix to hand to ensure no steps are missed is quite excellent. Some people, however, get rather upset at the idea that suddenly, creativity can be taught. The old axiom “Think different” seems to be thrown out the window, until you learn how the system works in depth.
The basic essence is that you think “What is the problem I have got?” and then you offer it up to the TRIZ system, and find the generic parts of those problems. This leads you to ways that others have used to solve similar problems, which are stored in a database or your head, and then you translate that back to your problem. Pretty simple, but you do need to know a bit of stuff, and the wider your knowledge of techniques and what things are, the better it will work. I came up with a brilliant, probably patentable solution to an old problem within 15 minutes. I had the initial breakthrough thought myself, without TRIZ, but the TRIZ grid then lead me down another path, which was easily added in, to give a brilliant solution that would prevent re-working of the existing system.
If you want to know more, here are the 40 principles, and below are some useful links.

Google search for TRIZ
Oxford Creativity – who trained me!
The TRIZ Journal

Lots of companies and people are using TRIZ: Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems, all the way down to me!

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