Thursday, November 23, 2006

TRIZ: Top 12 questions (part 2)

7. Is TRIZ a Contradiction Matrix and 40 Inventive Principles?

Only partly. Both Contradiction Matrix and 40 Inventive Principles were developed by the middle of the 1960s. After that time, a number of more sophisticated techniques were developed, like Substance-Field Analysis, Function Analysis, 76 Inventive Standards, Databases of Effects, Algorithm for Solving Inventive Problems (ARIZ), Theory of Technology Evolution, and so forth (For an overview of modern TRIZ components see Annotated List of Key TRIZ Components). There was even a period when the Contradiction Matrix was abanoned from TRIZ, but later in the beginning of 1990s it was brought back due to its easiness of use and ability to provide a good entrance to TRIZ for beginners. While 40 Inventive Principles and Contradiction Matrix still remain the most popular techniques, they represent only a small part of modern TRIZ. And TRIZ is still evolving: the existing techniques are improved and new techniques are introduced.

8. Is TRIZ a technique, a database, a method, a theory?

This is a difficult question. Modern TRIZ is a large body of knowledge, which, in turn, includes several methods and techniques. It has as well some strong theoretical foundations, but as a theory from a philosophical point of view it is incomplete, more studies and research is needed to make TRIZ complete and consistent as a theory. It is better to say that today TRIZ is an evolving science of creativity and innovation which has already been used to build a number of practical and working tools and techniques.

9. I want to buy TRIZ software, is it enough to work with TRIZ?

There is no single software package available on the market which supports all aspects of modern TRIZ. Besides, TRIZ is not just a process or a database, it is combination of logical analysis, knowledge bases of inventive principles, and thinking skills. While some TRIZ software packages provide some good tools for problem and system analysis and databases of principles, they can not replace thinking skills, especially abstract thinking. Although I personally was involved to the development of three TRIZ software packages, I still recommend TRIZ software as tools to provide fast access to the TRIZ databases and support analytical parts of problem solving process only, and to get most of these tools you need to learn and understand how TRIZ works.

10. What is main difference between TRIZ and SIT?

SIT (Systematic Inventive Thinking) or ASIT (Advanced SIT) are methods for creative ideas generation recently developed in Israel. They are often mentioned as being derived from TRIZ and developed to simplify TRIZ and make it easier to learn. But as a matter of fact, TRIZ and SIT are two very different methods and have very little in common. SIT only uses several TRIZ ideas, and while SIT can be learned within a couple of hours, TRIZ mastering requires months and years of skill perfecting. SIT and TRIZ would probably compare as an electronic calculator and a computer: SIT uses a very limited set of idea-triggering concepts, while TRIZ targets at deep understanding of factors driving systems evolution, thorough study of emerging conflicting demands, has extensive databases of invention principles and scientific knowledge. If SIT can help to improve traditional brainstorm, TRIZ can be used to solve most complex problems in systematic way and provide scientifically based forecast of next product and services generations. This of course does not limit the ability of SIT to help with generating great ideas (since ideas and solutions are produced by people anyway), but with TRIZ the idea generation and problem solving processes are brought to the next level.

11. Can anyone learn and use TRIZ?

With enough patience, open mind, and commitment, yes. I have not yet met a person who would not be able to learn and use TRIZ. However, learning technological TRIZ requires some basic engineering background. In addition to technological TRIZ, there are other versions of TRIZ, and one of them even targets at teaching the TRIZ way of thinking to kids starting at the age of 3 (with fairy tales, puzzles, drawings, etc). A project “Jonathan Livingston” in the countries of the former USSR unites 10.000 teachers who introduced this method in their schools. Rececntly a book "Thoughtivity for kids" was published which summarized their experiences.

12. How TRIZ can be implemented in my organization?

First of all, an organization should have or move towards establishing an innovative culture and be willing to invest time and effort to properly learn and introduce TRIZ. If there is no innovative atmosphere at the organization, nothing will help – neither TRIZ, SIT, nor Lateral Thinking. Usually TRIZ is implemented as a pyramid-like model with three-four competence layers: a cross-functional group of TRIZ professionals headed by a TRIZ leader provides dissemination of TRIZ across the organization as well as facilitates and assists innovative projects. Other employees can be trained in TRIZ to acquire basic skills and know how TRIZ can help them and cooperate with TRIZ professionals.


Andrei Golidze said...

Victor Fey suggested the best definition of SIT I've heard so far: "SIT is a castrated TRIZ."

Anonymous said...

C'mon guys. I've got 2 books of 300 pages each in American derivative of SIT -- USIT. I don't even have time to read those...what chance have I got with TRIZ then?

Valeri Souchkov said...

You have a high chance with TRIZ; but only in case when innovation is on your priority list. And although created on the ideas of SIT, USIT is broader and closer to TRIZ than SIT, which has very little to do with modern TRIZ. Both SIT and USIT lack a fundamental part of TRIZ -- understanding how man-made systems evolve.
I do not believe that reading 300 pages book can be an obstacle to learn something useful which can produce a profound impact on someone's life. For instance, to become an electronic engineer one needs to study 5 years. And we understand why we need all these years. There is simply no "fast food" way to become an educated professional. To read a book we'll probably need a couple of days. And even worse: TRIZ is not magic and can't be learned within 2 hours; it has to be understood, absorbed, and practiced. Modern TRIZ has a large body of knowledge but luckily it can be studied in modules. In addition, mastering TRIZ with skills requires practicing, it also takes time. But the payback is our capability to solve innovative problems on demand and generate powerful ideas within a fraction of time. Is such investment worthwhile? Everyone decides for himself or herself.