Saturday, September 30, 2006

TRIZ and Business Week

A new TRIZ reference in Businesss Week in the section "Innovation Tools and Trends to Watch" : As correctly pointed by Ellen Domb, "Bad news -- it (TRIZ) is only wildly complex if it is badly taught and it works very well for solving management problems, too".
Eearler, Business Week published another article on TRIZ: "The World According to TRIZ". Interestingly, most of the articles on TRIZ in mass media mention Altshuller Matrix only. It is not surprising since Altshuller Matrix is the most popular TRIZ tool; but there is more, much more in modern TRIZ.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Problems and Solutions: The Wise Owl story

A nice story about problems, solutions... and consulting:

"Once upon a time, there was a forest. Suddenly, for whatever reasons, a population of wolves started to grow, and this was really bad for rabbits who were eaten by the wolves more and more. So the rabbits decided to ask the wisest creature in the forest, the Owl, what to do. They came to the Owl, and the Owl said: “Now, it is easy. You rabbits have to become hedgehogs. The wolves do not like hedgehogs. So you will be safe”.
The rabbits liked the advice! Who does not like when your problem is solved? But the next day they came back to the Owl. “Listen, the wisest Owl, but… how do we become hedgehogs?”. And the Owl said: “I am sorry, this question is beyond my scope, I only do strategic advice. I've solved your problem, just as you asked, and now it is up to you how you implement my solution!”.

"Why Smart Companies...." and innovation

Interesting article in Guy Kawasaki's blog: "Why Smart Companies Do Dumb Things". Are the same reasons valid for slowing down innovation?

"Dutch" TRIZ: Our article in The TRIZ Journal

The article written by me together with Jacques Stevens of Stevens Ide Partners about our "Dutch" experience with TRIZ (with several case stidues) appeared in the September issue of the TRIZ Journal:

TRIZ: a meta-theory of creative innovation?

If a role of TRIZ has to be defined in a single sentence, TRIZ helps provide creative phases of innovation with knowledge-based systematic support. While most of the basic TRIZ principles were drawn from the studies of technological inventions, the ways we solve problems and generate ideas are rather similar in virtually every area. For instance, TRIZ postulates that one of the major driving forces of technology evolution is resolution of contradictions (which was known as a philosophical concept long before TRIZ, but TRIZ developed this concept further within the area of technological innovation). The same idea appears to be true for many other domains: social, political, business, economic. As an example, an old and seemingly solid business model will not survive when its business environment changes because the model starts facing contradictions; and in many cases the model has to be radically changed since compromising and optimizing will only help to incrementally improve the model.
What is more important about TRIZ, that it has identified strategies and patterns for resolving contradictions: both very generic like resolving contradictions in time, space, etc. and more specific, like "Consider doing the opposite action instead of an intended one". The high degree of abstraction makes major discoveries and principles of TRIZ domain-independent with respect to creative problem solving and systems evolution. To my opinion, even current system of generic principles and patterns of TRIZ can be applied to all artificially created systems that are created to deliver a certain value. Today we know that TRIZ is used in business, software architectures, marketing and advertisement, pedagogy. But more research is needed to establish a well-systematized ground for cross-domain TRIZ applications, both at generic meta-level and domain-specific levels.

Friday, September 08, 2006

TRIZ Future 2006 Conference

A program of ETRIA TRIZ Future 2006 Conference has just been published:

The conference will be held in Kortrijk, Belgium, October 9-11, 2006. With 49 presentations and 4 keynotes it promises to be a very interesting event. I will be presenting TRIZ for business problem solving case and methodology on the first conference day right after the conference opening.

xTRIZ: Welcome to Creative Innovation

About 7 years ago, I wrote a short article "Four Views on TRIZ" to answer the question which I was asked too often: "and yet, what exactly TRIZ is?" I guess, this question is still asked today and will be asked many times in future.

Despite the fact that TRIZ originated more than 50 years ago, it is still very young: at both theoretical and practical sides. Still, there are many ongoing debates about usefullness of TRIZ. To me personally TRIZ has been useful, and I know many other people who find it useful as well. Hence it is not a question if TRIZ is useful to everybody. Can something be useful to everybody without exception? Perhaps, if that something covers our most basic needs and there is no other alternative. Like a specific medicine. A need to innovate is not among basic human needs, therefore the answer would be "no, not everyone needs TRIZ." TRIZ is for those who are eager to recognize, understand and solve problems, find best and ideal solutions, and want to innovate. Probably, this list is not on everyone's agenda.

A main difficulty with accepting and properly positioning TRIZ in our minds is that TRIZ is a cross-disciplinary study. It operates across the borders of philosophy, system theory, engineering sciences, physics, technology, sociology, psychology. So many find it difficult to learn and accept. But is there an easy way? In my professional career I had a chance to meet a lot of great creative thinkers, problem solvers and inventors; and noticed one common feature among them. These people used to be hungry for knowledge; and not just knowledge in their field, but in many different fields. I wonder if there is a correlation between a capability of a person to generate innovative ideas and a size and diversity of his/her library.

TRIZ is also difficult because it is mainly a "thinking" method rather than a toolbox or a database of scientifc effects. TRIZ provides a meta-theory of guiding our mind through the forest of knowledge to use this knowledge in order to solve problems and generate new ideas. TRIZ also is a parallel process: by solving a problem with TRIZ we usually apply several different TRIZ concepts and lines of reasoning at the same time. That's why attempts to create clear step-by-step TRIZ algorithms have not been very successful so far.

Although today there are many "incarnations" of TRIZ, like I-TRIZ, CreaTRIZ, TRIZ+, (and now welcome to xTRIZ, of course), all these versions have been emerging to extend, improve and make TRIZ easier to learn and more effective to apply. I am sure one day we will have clear and concise TRIZ.

So what is xTRIZ and why? "x" stands for eXtended TRIZ. I believe TRIZ should not be positioned as a standalone tool (or whatever we name it). Just like modern innovation requires more and more resources, TRIZ can be enriched with new techniques and tools with complement TRIZ and the entire process of creative innovation. Therefore xTRIZ focuses on using and developing new techniques which help dealing with problems and producing innovative solutions. In addition, xTRIZ will explore how modern technology can help with innovation: emerging ICT solutions, social software, web 2.0, collaborative intelligence, and so forth.

So with starting this blog I intend to be more personal than in articles or books. I hope this will be a platform for thinking and new ideas. And it will be not limited to TRIZ: everything that helps innovation, and especially new systematic approaches, methods, techniques, and tools for creativity and innovation will be discussed here as well.