Friday, September 15, 2006

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.

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