Friday, September 08, 2006

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.

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