Thursday, December 06, 2007

TRIZ and Systematic Innovation Training: Spring 2008

New dates for training in TRIZ and Systematic Innovation are announced for Spring 2008:
  • One-day Introduction to TRIZ for Business and Management: January 19, 2008: Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • One-day Introduction to TRIZ for Technology and Engineering: February 22, 2008: Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • One-day Creative Imagination Development (for all areas): April 11, 2008: Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 5-day Extended TRIZ and Systematic Innovation for Business and Management: April 14-18, 2008: Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 5-day Advanced TRIZ and Systematic Innovation for Technology and Engineering: May 26-30, 2008: Arnhem, The Netherlands

We will also organize a new experimental 2-day training workshop "TRIZ for Kids" for teachers and parents who are interested in learning practical techniques which help kids develop "power" thinking skills. The workshop will be run by Nikolai Khomenko on March 20-21, 2008 in The Hague.

More information:

TRIZ Future 2008 in Enschede, The Netherlands

The next ETRIA Conference TRIZ Future 2008 will be conducted on November 5-7, 2008 in Enschede, The Netherlands at the terrain of the University of Twente. More details are available at and

TRIZ Future 2007 in Frankfurt: Short Report

The 7th Global Conference TRIZ Future 2007, organized jointly by ETRIA, European TRIZ Zentrum, Chamber of Commerce of Kassel and Technical University of Munich, was holding on November 6-8 in Frankfurt am Main. 140 participants arrived to the conference. The conference opened with two tutorials: on Technology Forecast by Dmitry Koucheriavy and Advanced TRIZ by Nikolai Khomenko (both Graduate School of Science and Technology in Strasbourg). The conference featured 4 keynote talks: by Lucienne Blessing (University of Luxembourg), Guillaume Vendroux (Alstom Transport, France), Vincent Bontemps (Commissariat à l'énergie Atomique, France), and Greg Yezerski (Institute of Professional Innovators, USA). 44 papers, selected for presentation, were divided to two sections: scientific and practitioner.

The conference produced very nice impression, thanks to the efforts of its organizers and the participants. Being a founding member of ETRIA, I am personally very happy that each edition
of the TRIZ Future conference gains more and more worldwide audience and recognition.
Although the quality of papers was varying, overall the majority of papers either provided the
participants with new valuable information or triggered some further thoughts. It was also
interesting to observe that TRIZ is getting accepted broader on a corporate scale: David W.
Conley (Intel, USA) informed audience that approximately 1.000 Intel specialists took basic
TRIZ training, Robert Adunka (Siemens, Germany) presented a corporate training program in
TRIZ which is currently under deployment at Siemens.

A surprise was prepared by the organizers just prior to the conference dinner: a one hour
show at which two artists demonstrated how to teach physics in a new way: by showing
physical effects “alive” in a very funny and enjoyable manner. I doubt I will ever forget any of
the effects presented!

The conference ended with 2-hour ETRIA members meeting, a summary of which will soon be
posted to the ETRIA website ( One of the important notes was that in general, TRIZ is known today at the level of the 1980s despite its recent progress. Certain efforts should be undertaken to make the worldwide TRIZ community familiar with current trends in TRIZ and bring an overview of TRIZ advances.

Summarizing, the conference had a high degree of quality of integrity, was very energizing, and became an excellent place for networking and communication.

As usual, Ellen Domb, the editor of the Online TRIZ Journal, provided live blogging from the
conference. You can read more about each conference day:
The conference proceedings are available in electronic form for ETRIA members for free at in the membership section. A published version is available at

Photos from the conference:

Friday, September 28, 2007


In the past, we could invent something once and enjoy benefits till the rest of our lives. Time has changed. Today we need to continously stay innovative - which means we need to possess “power” thinking skills to be able to constantly come up with new winning ideas. But what are the differences between “regular” and “power” thinking skills? Due to nature of my work, I have had a unique chance to meet many great people: outstanding thinkers, inventors and innovators from different areas: technology, business, arts. Below I would like to summarize these differences, based on many years of observations.

1. Multi-Screen Thinking vs. Spot Thinking

Usually when we attempt to solve a problem, we tend to focus on a very narrow spot where the problem takes place. As a result we limit ourselves to considering only those components that immediately form the problem. However looking at the problem from the viewpoint of its relationships with a rest of a system where the problem has arisen helps identifying much broader scope of opportunities, better understand the roots of the problem, and identify different strategies of solving a problem. Thus we should see the problem as a part of a bigger system and also recognize how our solution will impact the future of a system and its environment. When we want to innovatively improve a certain system – technical, business, etc., - it also makes sense too look to the past to find out what changes the system experienced and what were drivers of these changes. Seeing a problem or a system under a different angle also helps to recognize different types of solutions and evolution directions. (“Multi-Screen Diagram of Thinking” is one of the key TRIZ components, also known as “System operator”, or “9 Windows”.)

2. Abstract Thinking vs. Specific Thinking

Specific thinking forces us to stay at the level of details within a scope of known to us solutions and concepts and try to adapt them to our problem. As a result, we either stuck or come up with small incremental improvements. Abstract thinking helps to migrate problem solving to a new level and fight mental inertia which is brought by mental images formed by specific information and details. It also helps to recognize analogies in totally different areas. Say the word “wall” and we usually imagine a wall of a house made of bricks or stones. But the wall can be also a waterfall, a steam flow, a light lock… By saying the word “company” we immediately start imagining an office filled with people and desks while a company can be virtual, with home-based employees, etc. Abstraction furthermore helps to recognize links among seemingly unrelated objects and events and come up with totally different concepts.

3. Breakthrough Thinking vs. Trade-off Thinking

TRIZ states that emergence of contradictions is a major driving force of evolution of technological systems, and resolving contradictions by their elimination instead of trading-off helps achieve a major qualitative jump in evolution of a system. Apparently this is valid for many other types of man-made systems. For instance, during evolution, business, social, and political systems experience numerous contradictions as well. However when we face contradictions, our mind tends to soften conflicting demands and search for a compromise instead of targeting at breakthrough solutions that would completely eliminate contradictions. Contradictions remain unsolved - but unsolved contradictions tend to deepen over the time. Early recognition of contradictions and resolving them is one of the most important features of “power” thinking.

4. Intensification Thinking vs. Sheltered Thinking

We are often afraid to think outside of known concepts and ideas. But all breakthroughs happen only when we overcome barriers set up by our mental inertia. To break these barriers, it helps to intensify given tasks, conditions, or requirements. Often we need to intensify them to such a degree that they seem to be “impossible”. For instance, we want to develop a new concept of a mobile phone. How small it can be? We can start thinking about usual length of the mobile phone – around 10 cm. So shall it be 6 cm? Too little! Imagine that the phone’s length should be 1 cm, or, better, 1 mm. It is clear that a concept of the mobile phone should become totally different. Or we want to have a screen on a mobile phone which completely fills our field of sight. It is also clear that we should think about totally different screen: probably, a projected screen, or screen mounted in glasses, etc. By pushing existing limits far beyond we increase our chances to come up with radically new solutions.

5. Non-linear Thinking vs. Linear Thinking

It is known that about 80-90% of long-term forecasts made by even very renowned futurists appear to be wrong. A common mistake which is often made is focusing on extrapolating existing trends without recognition of radical changes which are not possible to predict. The same with problem solving: staying within a frame of known concepts and relationships it is not possible to recognize non-linear connections. Non-linear thinking also helps to bring together things that are not related today but can be linked in the future and produce a great impact on technology and society, such as was, for instance, development of a personal computer.

6. Diversity Thinking vs. Uniformity Thinking

Breakthrough innovations are almost always based on outside knowledge. Thus it was not surprising that I noticed that one common thing among great inventors and thinkers I was lucky to meet has been their “hunger for knowledge”. And what is important, all these people do not limit themselves to a single specific area of interest: as a rule, they consume a lot of information from totally different areas. A library of Voltaire who lived in the 18th century counted 6.814 books, more than 2.000 of which had his handwritten remarks. A library of Thomas Edison consisted of 10.000 books. A friend of mine, who invented a disruptive technology for chemical industry, has also a library of 10.000 of scientific and technical books, and he read most of them. Diversity helps to both see solutions in other areas and create unique experience which helps to recognize patterns between seemingly totally unrelated things.

7. Structured Thinking vs. Random Thinking

We often think that to solve a “big” problem in a creative way we must “unlearn and unstructure” as much is possible. True, because it helps us to fight mental inertia. But as noted by G. Altshuller, unlearning and unstructuring work well when we solve problems of low degree of difficulty that do not require numerous trials to find a solution. Once in a lifetime we can be lucky. But when we constantly facing problems of high degree of complexity, we must structure the problem solving process. We must have a roadmap how to navigate from a problem to its solution, reuse previous experience, and patterns of strong solutions. Does it kill creativity? Not at all. In ancient Rome, the mathematical operation of division was considered to be an art and was based on heuristic rules. Today this operation is fully automated and nobody seem to suffer from that. Bringing structure to support creative processes does not mean replacing creativity with formal procedures: creative imagination remains of great importance to find a final solution. But we can drastically save time and efforts by structuring the process and thus avoiding unnecessary errors which often cost billions of euros and dozens of years. Most important is that a structured and well-defined process is repetitive.

8. Ideality Thinking vs. Consumption Thinking

Once I was involved to helping a customer who had a problem with a robot which was not properly adapted to do a job, and as a result there was persistent loss of a product. The customer contacted the robot’s manufacturer who proposed to upgrade the robot within several months by adding new electronics and precision mechanics, but such solution would cost the customer around Euro 500k. A bit too expensive, but there seemed to be little choice. However by formulating an “Ideal Final Result” concept we were able to solve the problem within one hour and our solution was implemented next day: we only used resources which were available directly in the customer’s manufacturing process. Result: no product loss any more. Ideality is an extremely powerful concept which forces us to recognize already available resources to achieve what we want. Such resources are everywhere – and smart thinkers might achieve extraordinary results by recognizing and using them.

9. “Ultimate Goal” Thinking vs. Shallow Thinking

Goals are everything. Goals predetermine our results, our intentions, and our strategies. If we set up a wrong goal, we are going to fail; if we set up a weak goal, we will get weak results. I remember that several years ago I read a cover article in Time magazine, where the author was exploring a progress in cancer research. His conclusion was that most of research in the US was focusing on decreasing tumor sizes rather than on completely eradicating the tumors… But does reducing the tumors mean their elimination? Not necessary at all. In TRIZ, G. Altshuller introduced a concept of an “Ultimate Goal”: let us set up goals which do not seem to be achievable today: for instance to reach the stars, to eliminate hunger,.. Probably, we will not achieve them even during our lifetime, but the progress made would be considerably greater than defining weak goals in the very beginning.

10. Evolutionary Thinking vs. Trials and Errors Thinking

Before TRIZ, the vast majority of innovations were made by trials and errors. TRIZ uncovered laws and trends of men-made systems evolution, and knowledge of these trends is essential to define what to create next without blind guesses. For instance, we know that a specific system in the beginning of its evolution might tend to increase the degree of dynamics by breaking to parts and introducing flexible links between the parts; but when the system moves over a certain point of its evolution, a number of parts and the overall degree of the system’s dynamics tends to decrease.

11. Long-term Thinking vs. Short-term Thinking

Quick fixes or investments to the future? Ok, in some cases quick fixes are necessary and justifiable, but when our thinking is only limited to quick fixes we might be drowned in them. One day it might become clear that quick fixes do not work any longer but we do not have neither enough time nor physical resources to avoid a disaster. Thus quick fixes might be ok only if they are balanced by proper investments to long-term goals.

12. Wild Thinking vs. Down to Earth Thinking

This is where a role of creative imagination becomes crucial. In his book “The Psychology of Creativity” published in 1896, French psychologist Theodule Ribot mentioned that we reach a peak of our creative imagination in the age of 12-14, and then it gradually drops. When we are young, we play games in which we invent new fantastic characters, explore space, etc. and thus we boost and develop our creative imagination skills: in these games, no one demands us to stay within the borders of “reason”. Thus we push borders and relax our mental constraints. When we grow older, we sink in the world of reason and even might be punished for “crazy” thinking. But there is no other way: moving “out of the box” demands crushing mental barriers. Luckily, creative imagination is not magic; everyone possesses it and can further develop it.

And finally - I strongly believe that most important contribution of G. Altshuller and TRIZ was not a toolbox introduced to support creative phases of innovation, but that it was revealed how “power” thinking can be learned and developed.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Innovation and TRIZ: 5 Levels of Solutions

The July issue of the TRIZ Journal has published my article "Differentiating Among the Five Levels of Solutions". I wrote this article to introduce a new classification which is based on using "function/principle/market" differentiation to categorize all kinds of solutions rather than on creativity only as originally proposed by the originator of TRIZ G. Altshuller. A full text of the article is available at

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Risk of Customer-Driven Innovation

In his article, Tony Ulwick, CEO and founder of Strategyn and author of What Customers Want discusses a number of reasons why capturing and using the voice of a customer to create breakthrough innovations can be ineffective. Instead of capturing the customer demands, he proposes to study, dissect, and understand "customer's jobs" in detail. The approach of Strategyn is based on understanding "a job which is being done by a customer" rather than focusing on specific parameters and features of products or services delivered to the customer.

Full article is available at

I completely agree with this point of view. Customers can't envision what they can't envision. Listening to a voice of a customer might be great to produce incremental innovation and slightly win over competition in red ocean, but coming up with radical or disruptive innovation to create blue ocean we need another type of knowledge and another approach. In some cases we even need to completely distract ourselves from the existing products and services to overcome mental inertia and see things differently.

In addition, Strategyn uses TRIZ to enhance their innovation consulting. There are some video clips including a short description of TRIZ by Tony Ulwick. But I want to add that modern TRIZ is used much broader than for solving "mechanical" problems only.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Creative Problem Solving: Four Types of Thinking

Being involved for a long time as a TRIZ trainer and facilitator, I’ve had a great chance to meet many different creative personalities. This certainly enriched my life, and I also noticed that there are two major dimensions along which a creative thought is developed, regardless if people use TRIZ or not: a) from specific to abstract and b) from chaotic to structured. Of course, there are no clear borders between different types of thinking and there can not be, but we can clearly see dominance of one or another type of thinking. What does this mean? Below I try to explain this concept by illustrating it with the following problem: I am a very slow coffee drinker, which means that coffee in my cup gets cold too quick and its taste degrades. What can be done? Now, to four type of thinking dominance in creative problem solving:

  1. Chaotic and Specific: we try to solve a problem by simply guessing what a solution can be. This is the trials and errors method in its full extent. Might be good for problems of low-level difficulty but how many trials we should make to solve problems of high levels of difficulty? This is like playing in a casino. We have a chance, but its probability is low. So what are we going to do to have our coffee warm as long as possible? We might quickly jump to solutions without much analytical thinking: for instance, put a lid on a cup, insert a radioactive element to the cup which will warm up coffee, or simply stop drinking coffee to avoid experiencing discomfort…

  2. Specific and Abstract: We use guidance by the methods which help us to diverge to break mental inertia or associate our problem with some already known solution but residing in a different area. For instance, we might use lateral thinking, or we might have to search for analogy. I noticed that outstanding inventors read a lot of different literature and have ability which I call “hunger for knowledge”. This “hunger” helps to establish an analogy between seemingly unrelated things. By visiting houses of such inventors I was always impressed by sizes and diversity of their libraries: from history of theater to quantum mechanics. Do you know that Voltaire (1694-1788) had a library of over 6.000 books? He was not just a bibliophile; his handwritten comments can be found in more than 2.000 books. A library of Thomas Edison counted 10.000 books. Now, how do we apply analogy to our coffee problem? To keep meals warm, Chinese use a pad with a flame. Why not to use a flame pad for warming up coffee? Or, similarly to arctic igloos which use ice blocks for thermal insulation, we can put a floating foam-plastic pad with a hole for drinking on the surface of coffee; or to make a cup from porous thick material with a drinking hole. Solving problems by analogy is a very powerful method, but how to find a right analogy? This might be troublesome.

  3. Specific and Structured: this is where logical thinking comes to play. We use logic to analyze why a problem is happening, what causes the problem; and assume that the deeper we understand the problem, the higher chance we will have to solve it. This won’t necessarily provide us with solutions (although it many situations it will) but at least give us a better insight to what forms the problem. This way of thinking is often attributed to scientific approach: first, understand the problem and then solve it. But what to do if understanding of the problem’s causes does not give us insight on what a solution can be? Still, understanding the problem is very important. Example: At this level we try to understand why coffee gets cold. Why? Because it has a contact with air which has much lower temperature. Thus there is heat and mass transfer which goes too fast in order to establish a thermodynamic balance. So the question will be how to slow down the heat transfer? Probably, by warming the air, and so forth.

  4. Abstract and Structured: This is where we not only use logic to understand the roots of a problem but also use universal abstract patterns which can solve the problem. This is the most effective way to solve creative problems. But what are these abstract patterns? In my opinion, they are aggregation of many different analogies, which we can observe in technology, biology, social life. They are exactly what Altshuller and TRIZ researches have identified by studying vast massive of creative and innovative solutions. Altshuller also noted that outstanding inventors use 5-7 patterns which they discover due their lifetime. Example: Let us use a pattern which is known in TRIZ as “inventive standard 1-2-2: If there is a harmful effect of interaction of two objects, then introduce another object between them, which is a modification of either of the objects”. Modification can be seen in a broad sense: it can be a different phase state, physical state, chemical state… Why not to use foamed coffee, for instance? If we make a nice foam layer of coffee on top of liquid coffee (crema), it will have low thermal conductivity and prevent coffee from getting cold too fast. My espresso coffee machine uses exactly this solution, and I am happy with it. Advantage of TRIZ is that it identified many such abstract patterns: inventive principles, inventive standards, patterns of system evolution. It is impossible to say that TRIZ has a comprehensive set of patterns, but its set of patterns helps to solve many difficult problems.

This diagram also shows evolution of human thinking: from chaotic and specific to abstract and structured. I often hear that to come up with creative ideas, we need to unstructure our thinking. I can’t completely agree with that. We need to unstructure our thinking only when we do not have a more powerful method of thinking. But combining analytical logic and knowledge of universal patterns of solutions, we get much stronger instrument for solving creative problems.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

xTRIZ May 2007 Newsletter is Available

May 2007 Newsletter is available. It presents new dates for Fall 2007 training in TRIZ, Sysematic Innovation, Creative Imagination Development, as well as information about forthcoming TRIZ conferences, new interesting books, and collection of links.

The newsleeter is available at

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Success of Creative Imagination Development

Last Friday (April 27) I started a new series of training workshops by running a public course on Systematic Creative Imagination Development. It was the first public course of such kind given in English (at least to my knowledge) and it seems like it was a serious success: the audience was extremely enthusiastic during the course, and I received many exciting follow-ups. Although the course was based on the ideas Genrich Altshuller originally developed for Creative Imagination Development courses, it was considerably "updated" to incorporate elements of "power thinking", and the exercises were oriented at real tasks rather than a "free flight" imagination. For instance, a final exercise was to develop a scenario of a creative advertisement for a real business presented by each group of participants. The exercise included all what the participants learned during the day: principles of power thinking, associative search, elimination of contradictions, multi-screen system thinking, creative design principles. Although most of audience was not much familiar with TRIZ before the course, I was surprised how seemingly difficult concepts of "structured" creative thinking were quickly accepted and applied.

For those who missed the course, the next date is August 31, 2007, in Utrecht, Netherlands. The number of participants is limited, therefore it is important to register in time.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Overview: TRIZ for Business and Management

As I mentioned several times in my previous posts, the borders of TRIZ applications are not limited to technology only. The way TRIZ delas with problems and supports creativity are universal since its principles are based on the understanding the dialectics of evolution of man-made systems. I have just uploaded a white paper "Breakthrough Thinking with TRIZ for Business and Management" which gives an overview of how TRIZ is currently applied within business and management areas.

It is 20 pages long, so I hope you have enough patience to read through it. Amy comments are welcome.

Monday, March 26, 2007

TRIZ Future Conference in Frankfurt, November 2007

TFC 2007 Logo

The next forthcoming ETRIA Conference "TRIZ Future 2007" will be different from previous: it will be conducted in partnership with the European TRIZ Centrum, which used to hold "European TRIZ Congress" in the past. A scientific host of the conference will be Technical University of Munich. As usual, the conference will have two tracks: academic and industrial. I'll take part in the Industrial Review Committee.

The conference will be conducted on November 6-8, 2007 at Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Frankfurt. More information is availabe in the Announcement Brochure and

Those who are willing to submit a paper should hurry, a deadline for abstracts is March 30. See you at the conference!

Friday, March 23, 2007

TRIZ Case Studies Book: new abstracts are welcome

During last several month, our "multi-continental" editorial board received a number of abstracts presenting various cases of using TRIZ to solve problems or to develop new products. However, about 40% of received abstracts presented not-implemented ideas of solutions, while in the original call for papers we requested to submit only those cases which were implemented and proven to be successful.

Therefore we made a decision to extend a deadline for submitting abstracts till April 10, 2007. If someone who reads my blog has an interesting and implemented case and would like to write a paper to contribute to the future book, please contact me asap.

An updated Call for Papers with extended deadlines is available at

Monday, March 05, 2007

Advanced TRIZ and Systematic Innovation Training

For those who might be interested, this spring I will conduct two advanced courses in TRIZ and Systematic Innovation:
Click on the courses to get more information. Both courses will be conducted in the area of Utrecht, The Netherlands, close to Amsterdam.

In addition: One-day introductory course for TRIZ for Business and Management will be conducted at April 13, 2007, also in Utrecht.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

What Innovations Bring Most Value to Customers?

It seems like an answer to this question is pretty straightforward: those innovative solutions (products, services, platforms) which better satisfy customer needs create more value. But what needs and what value? And how to create these solutions?

In 1943, Abraham Maslow proposed Hierarchy of Human Needs, which separates between five different levels of human needs. But by looking at all solutions which exist in a marketplace, I personally tend to distinguish between 4 major categories of needs where innovation takes place (in the figure below, their importance runs clockwise):

- Basic Personal (food, healthcare, housing, security, learning, transportation, etc.)
- Work (need for money, self-actualization, satisfaction, prosperity, wealth, etc.)
- Social (communication, socializing, learning, sex, family, etc.)
- Entertainment (relaxation, joy, fun, etc.)

Today, borders between these categories are getting fuzzier in developed countries. Work can co-exist with fun and joy. A basic need for food can co-exist with socalizing and entertainment: some people prefer gourmet meals in cozy restaurants rather than consuming fast food. Playing Sims combines socializing and entertainment. Listening music helps to entertain and relax. Playing tennis helps to entertain and stay in good health.

There are endless solutions for each category of needs, and many cross the borders of each other. But by looking at these categories, it becomes obvious that most winning solutions are those which cover ALL categories of needs. For instance, even an old-fashioned "wired" phone can be used for:

- Emergency calls (Basic Personal)
- Talking to friends (Social)
- Discussing budgets during travelling (Work)
- Ordering music on interactive TV channels (Entertainment).

The same is valid for a personal car, PC, and a large variety of other products. And not just for products, but for services too: for instance, personal coaching can help to improve someone’s life in all four categories. Gaming industry evolves in this direction as well. Look at computer games. Civilization has overgrown from bringing personal entertainment to become a useful tool on world history in urban learning. If Sims helps to entertain, discuss basic personal needs, and socialize, then Second Life adds business (working) aspect to the game. This is why Second Life is getting more and more popular. I had not bought an mp3 player before podcasts started to emerge on the Internet: it is great to learn something new from podcasts during long trips, and then relax by listening to music. A single device satisfies my needs for entertainment and work. In fact, I did not buy an mp3 player: my mobile phone equipped with 4 Gb Sony SD card does all needed jobs perfectly. It shows movies too, but iPhone promises to do it even better.

So, the secret number one is simple: if you want to create a really winning solution on large scale, create something that targets all four categories of needs. But probably this is not an eye-opener. Another question arises: how to create it?

Here TRIZ helps. We already have a car, a PC, a mobile phone. How to think about something really new, or at least, how to radically improve these existing solutions? Not so difficult. TRIZ philosophy says that really new solutions result from overcoming contradictions which were created by old solutions. For instance, once I had to give 5 different phone numbers so people could reach me in any location. And still, they were unable to reach me when I was on a trip. I always faced this contradiction – when arriving to a new destination, I needed to send my new number to… how many people? But I did not have time for that. If I would spend time for calling to everyone to inform about my new number, then I would not have time to do my job. And vice versa. A contradiction which was resolved by a mobile phone.

We can look at any of the existing solutions and identify what contradictions are still caused by it or its use. Not just slightly improve the convenience of use, but solve a real contradiction. For instance, back in 1997 a CTO of a company producing traditional (“wired”) phones told me that almost no one in the world would need a mobile phone except some top executives and traveling sales people. I thought: really? But one of my basic personal needs is to call emergency on case something happens no matter where I am – and this applies to everyone! In 1999, a top manager of one of the world leading company producing photo cameras told me that digital photography was doomed… Really? I was already fed up with endless film rolls, prints, and the necessity to go to a store each time to bring my films for processing, and paying each time quite a lot of money since I liked to use quality films and quality photo paper. Looking at the costs side, I calculated that owning a digital camera for one thousand euros will be paid off just within 2-3 years. And probably the cost factor was not the most appealing: the most important to me was a contradiction that I was not in the control of the quality of the prints I used to get from the store and I did not have time to do the prints myself. Another imprortant factor was that I knew that quality of digital cameras would improve immensely pretty soon – there were no physical barriers to that. The time has shown who was right.

So, the secret number 2: find contradictions, define new goals and resolve the contradictions. And create new winning solutions.

In fact, that’s all. The rest depends on your capabilities.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Root Conflict Analysis and TRIZ

Our recent paper presented at ETRIA TFC 2007 "Application of RCA+ to Solve Business Problems" has been re-published by the TRIZ Journal:

The article shows how RCA+ (Root Conflict Analysis) is used to identify and map contradictions in a specific situation, and then resolve the contradictions to generate new ideas with the help of inventive principles. Although the article deals with a business case (in fact, a very similar situation occurred within several projects; therefore the case presented is rather generic), the same methodology works for technology and other areas as well. During last two years I successfully applied RCA+ for about 30 different cases during team work, and each time it helped to clarify a problem and structure the problem solving process. Today we use RCA+ as an analytical tool which provides input for other TRIZ problem-solving and idea generation techniques (Inventive Principles, Inventive Standards, ARIZ).

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Course on Creative Imagination Development

I have just announced a new course on Creative Imagination Development which will take place on April 27, 2007 in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
This course is a bit different from other courses I offer. It does not specifically target on technology or business areas, instead it deals with general development of creative skills. Imagination is an esential part of creative work, and to create interesting and breakthrough ideas we need to use it to its full extent. People with developed creative imagination can better foresee and react to future changes thus staying ahead of others, and easier come up with out-of-the-box ideas.
But can creative imagination be developed? I believe that like any skill, it can. Every person is given an in-born ability to create, and the question is how we use this ability and how we develop it. When I was young I was going for fencing, and it took us two years of training to start fencing properly before we were allowed to compete - these two years were needed to develop fencing skills. The same with all other skills, including creative imagination.
During the course, I will also introduce several techniques to generate out-of-the-box ideas on the basis of developments by Altshuller - "the father" of TRIZ. He and his associates put considerable efforts to understand how we can use our creativity most effectively and boost our creative performance. In fact, Creative Imagination Development was always a part of advanced TRIZ education.
But this is not a TRIZ course, although it incorporates some basic TRIZ ideas like principles of creative change, Ideal Final Result, Contradictions, Multiscreen Thinking. The difference is that they are much quicker to learn and can be used everywhere: from technology to writing and film making.
For those who are interested, the course details are available at: