Wednesday, December 17, 2008

TRIZ Intro Short Course, January 14, 2009 in Utrecht

When you are every day involved to TRIZ and Innovation, it is not easy to imagine that there are still too many people who never heard of TRIZ, or those who heard but vaguely know what a contemporary TRIZ is. Therefore I scheduled an evening introduction course to modern TRIZ on January 14, in Utrecht, Netherlands. This short course will take place from 16:00 till 20:00, and provide not only an overview of TRIZ but also a hands-on experience to get a feeling how TRIZ works.

More details are available at:

Thursday, December 04, 2008

TRIZ and Systematic Innovation Training in Spring 2009

I have just (once again!) adjusted the agenda of my public training and certification courses in Spring 2009. Please keep the following dates in mind in case you wish to join some of the courses:
TRIZ for Business and Management:
  • February 5-7: 3-day course, Bangalore, India
  • March 20: one-day introductory course, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • May 4-7: 4-day extended course, Utrecht, Netherlands
TRIZ for Technology and Engineering:

  • April 1-3: 3-day basic course, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • May 18-22: 5-day advanced course, Utrecht, Netherlands
General Systematic Creativity and Problem Solving:
  • March 2-6, OTSM-TRIZ to Develop Power Thinking (with N. Khomenko), Limassol, Cyprus
  • June 12: Creative Imagination Development, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • June 19: Root Conflict Analysis (RCA+), Utrecht, The Netherlands
More information about the courses and registration:

TRIZ Future 2008

Finally, after a quite intensive November filled with travel and training courses, I have some time to write few lines about the TRIZ Future 2008 Conference.
This year's edition of the conference in Enschede gathered around 90 participants from 20 countries including China, Japan, Korea, US. The number of people was slightly less in the previous year in Frankfurt, however in my opinion, quality of presented papers was quite high. It also has to do with the fact that this year we applied a set of stricter criteria to the paper selection and edition process. It probably reduced the number of participants, but I personally learned a number of very interesting things.
As usual, a daily report from the conference is available in the online TRIZ Journal, prepared by the Journal editor, Ellen Domb:
We also hope that as always, Toru Nakagawa will publish a very detailed report on the conference, including review of presented papers.
The atmosphere during the conference was very warm and friendly. After 8 years of conducting the event, we already have a "core group" of those who visit each edition of the conference. It is great to meet each year, discuss last year events and share new ideas. A team of organizers from the Department of Design, Production and Management of the University of Twente did a great job to ensure the highest quality of the event. I am very thankful to them. And especially pleasant surprise was a conference dinner in a village restaurant "Hanninkshof", which featured wonderful gourmet meals and selection of beautiful wines.
What was a little bit frustrating, although the conference was conducted in the Netherlands, not much of Dutch industry visited the conference. I am curious what were the reasons - current economic crisis, or reducing interest in the front-end of innovation? Or too many innovation-related events this year? At the same time I talk to (and work with) many people from the Dutch industry and business, and most of them are very much interested in TRIZ and use it. One of the reasons was, probably that the conference was "too academic", most of papers were from universities. We have to think how to boost industrial participance at future conferences.
Some highlights from the conference:

Opening by Gaetano Cascini, ETRIA president.

During paper presentations

During my tutorial on TRIZ for Business and Management

Keynote talk by Harry Rutten, DSM
During conference dinner

A larger image gallery is available at
Thanks everyone for making the conference success!
Next year edition of the conference will be held in October-November 2009 in Timiosara, Romania. Details will be posted soon at

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Personal Record and Crisis (Not Personal)

This fall I seem to set up a personal record on a number of people I trained in TRIZ. Since September 8 till October 31 (during 7 weeks) I trained about 230 people in TRIZ at different levels: from very basic (8 hours) to advanced (40-60 hours). This figure includes both university students and professionals from a dozen of countries. Feel a bit tired, but must confess: very happy.

So will it help those who were trained dealing with a "financial crisis" we all hear about today? The answer seem to be rather obvious. The more we can, the better we cope. Basically, TRIZ is about how to deal in critical situations. Any breakthrough innovation results from a situation when trade-offs don't work any more but we need a radical, out-of-the-box solution. Another issue is that we used to think about innovation just as bringing new products to the market. But what about process innovations? Supply chain innovations? Cost cutting innovations? We can innovate to drastically cut costs, for instance. Usually we think that once we cut costs, we also decrease produced value. It sounds quite logical, however it is not true. The entire TRIZ philosophy (if we learn TRIZ well) drives us towards creating "ideal" solutions: producing maximum value at virtually no costs. And in many cases it is possible.

I observe two types of organizations today: those who are under a current panic of crisis freeze their training budgets and those which do not. However, those who freeze represent the vast majority. Luckily there is another type of companies: which release their budgets to better train peope. Which strategy is right? There is a simple analogy. If a national soccer team loses against stronger competitors during the World Cup - does it mean that the team has to cut costs, kick out all strong players (who are expensive) and avoid hiring a good coach (because the team certainly experiences crisis)? I think everyone will laugh at such decision and stop supporting such a team if it does so. That's why it is still a great mistery to me why so many boards of organizations are unable to connect productivity, performance, and ability to stay in business with capabilities and skills of people who work for them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

TRIZ Future 2008 next week!

Are there TRIZ enthusiasts or those who would be interested in learning more about TRIZ? There is a great chance to meet international TRIZ community next week.

On November 5-7 we conduct the international conference TRIZ Future 2008 in Enschede, The Netherlands hosted by the University of Twente. Although the conference will last 3 days, there is also a possibility to register for the first day only, which will include basic TRIZ tutorials, keynotes, opening, and two tracks with case studies (registration for this day costs Euro 250,-). We expect around 100 people from 20-25 countries.

I will run a tutorial on TRIZ for Business and Management in the morning (from 09:00 till 12:00).

More details on the conference and registration are available at . To see a detailed schedule of paper presentations, visit section "Downloads".

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Social Innovation: How to Manage Work/Life Balance?

Last Friday, I took part in a very inspiring informal event: “UnConference”, organized by friends of mine Ton Zijlstra and Elmine Wijnia at the Twente University terrain as a part of Elmine’s birthday celebration. It was visited by a group of enthusiastic people from different countries interested in how networked world changes our life.

One of the questions posted was how to manage work/life balance properly? We run a series of small workshops in the “Knowledge CafĂ©” format, and I hosted one of the workplaces. Here I’d like to share our findings.

Pretty soon we found that definition of a border between work and personal/leisure parts of life had been very fuzzy. All people are different: for some their work is the only true meaning of their lives, but some prefer less time spent for work and more dedicated to families and leisure activities. To better understand this border we choose the Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs and reformulated the question: “What prevents us from feeling happy about managing our work/personal life balance?”, where personal life can mean anything but work.

In most cases, working provides us with a means to fulfil our needs. But our work becomes a part of our identity, too. Its role is minimal when our needs reside only at the lower levels of the Maslows's pyramid (to secure our basic living needs), but grows exponentially when we move up to the higher levels of the needs hierarchy (levels of esteem and self-actualization). By following the TRIZ philosophy of a fuzzy situation analysis, we tried to formulate a list of contradictions which prevent us from keeping our work/personal life balance totally perfect – that is, just as we want it to feel happy because for everyone this balance can be individual.

A majority of people whose work interests are not limited to their pay checks face a fundamental contradiction: either to stay at the lower levels of the Maslow’s hierarchy to ensure stability and security or to move up to the higher levels to realize their dreams, especially when people are young and full of energy. However without strong financial independence that would mean putting ourselves as well as our families at risk. What would (probably) reduce this risk is a total commitment and full immersion to our work. However, that would also mean reducing time for any other activities.

Furthermore, we decided to outline contradictions which are experienced and treated by each participant as most important and which have to be resolved to properly manage work/personal life balance:
  • We want to live in a small quiet town which is good for our kids and work in a big city, but commuting takes of a lot of time.
  • We want to dedicate more time to our kids, but then we would not accomplish our careers as desired.
  • We want to be entrepreneurs to realize our goals and dreams, but full commitment to our jobs will unlikely leave enough time for our families and leisure activities.
  • A "perfect" vacation demands considerable time to truly disconnect from thoughts about our jobs, and such long vacations are good for our families. But are such long breaks good for our jobs, especially in modern, highly dynamic work environments when everything changes too fast?
  • Perfectionism versus getting things done: trying to accomplish things in the most perfect way we sacrifice time for either other tasks or personal life.
  • Mobile workplace versus stable workplace: being highly mobile we tend to spend more time for long-distance travel thus leaving too little time to spend with our families.
  • We need to learn more and more every day but still need to secure enough time for doing our jobs and personal things.
  • A desire to do many interesting things in parallel; but to really accomplish something we must focus on one-two major tasks only.
  • Every day we need to process more and more information which leaves less time for other activities.
  • Individualism to focus and concentrate versus the need to feel and be a part of a larger social group.
  • Quantity versus efficiency: in most cases employees are paid for hours, not for results. Thus we need to spend more time at work to ensure proper income than it might be really needed .
  • Working from home: we stay close to our families but physically remote from our social work environments ("missing a water cooler" syndrome).
  • "Work ecosystem" versus "home ecosystem": we often tend to give a preference of one rather than another due to many factors: attitude, comfort, etc. and thus even subconsciously tend to spend more time within that ecosystem.
It looks like most of these contradictions focus on two critical elements: time and space. We can neither expand time nor to be in two places at once. How do the participants see the ways out? There were some ideas:
  • Matching work with meaning of your life.
  • Finding a partner with a similar state of mind.
  • Creating a family business.
  • Splitting work between being employed for several days a week and then self-employed for the rest of the week.
  • Working from home only partly.
  • Always staying connected with your family via the Internet.
Given a limited time we did not elaborate ideas further. It is clear that these already known solutions solve just a part of a bigger problem. By asking the participants if they were happy with their current work/personal life balance, only a half of them responded positively. Which means that 50% of people are not happy – isn’t that an indication of another real problem in our society? What can be new radical innovations that would help people to feel happy with managing their work/personal life balance? Here we need to challenge known mental models of “working” which create psychological barriers preventing us from thinking out of the box: offices, cubicles, meetings, billing for hours and not for results, relations between working time and real productivity, and so forth. A very interesting area worth to explore!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Creativity World Forum in Antwerpen

The summer break is over, and it's time to get back to autumn innovation. My agenda looks quite full for the coming months with a number of countries to visit, which means that the interest in creativity and innovation is still there!

Just wanted to note that on November 19-20, 2008, the next edition of the Creativity World Forum will take place in Antwerpen, Belgium. The Forum is organized by the Flemmish Organization for Entrepreneurial Creativity and will feature such keynote speakers as Steve Wozniak, Dan Heath, Chris Anderson, Tom Kelly, John Cleese.

This event is defenitiely worth to visit. I plan to be there, too.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

TRIZ Future 2008: List of Abstracts

The list of 58 abstracts provisionally accepted for the conference TRIZ Future 2008 (Nov. 5-7, 2008, Enschede, The Netherlands) is available at:
as well as at the official conference website .

This year we decided to split the conference papers and posters to four tracks: scientific, educational, practitioner, and case studies. Seems like there are enough interesting papers to be presented in each section.

A final list of accepted papers and posters will be available in the second half of September.

Monday, June 09, 2008

May 2008 TRIZ and Systematic Innovation Newsletter

Our latest newsletter from May 2008 (in PDF format) was uploaded to:

The issue contains latest news, references to intersting links on TRIZ and innovation, recommended new books, and description of one of the principles of creative innovation: "Continuity".

Matrix 2003: German Edition

A friend and a TRIZ colleague of mine from Germany, Horst Nahler, recently updated me that they published a German translation of the book "Matrix 2003" by D. Mann, S. Dewulf, B. Zlotin, A. Zusman (originally the book was published in English in 2003). The book introduces an extension to the original Contradiction Matrix developed by G. Altshuller which still remains today one of the most popular TRIZ technqies for beginners. The book costs 30 Euro and is available from:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Brief History of TRIZ

As follows from my experience, anyone who starts seriously studying TRIZ and Systematic Innovation, sooner or later starts wondering about a history of TRIZ. Why there are so many tools, what followed what? I constantly get these questions from my "students". Since there was no TRIZ timeline yet presented in English, I wrote an article "A Brief History of TRIZ" which summarizes major steps in the development of TRIZ and Systematic Innovation. The article is freely available at (top left corner).

In case if someone notices inconsistencies, please let me know.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

TRIZ & Systematic Innovation Training: Fall 2008

New dates for training courses in TRIZ and Systematic Innovation, Fall 2008 are available:

  • One-day Introduction to TRIZ for Business and Management, September 3, 2008, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 5-day Extended TRIZ and Systematic Innovation for Business and Management, September 22-26, 2008, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 3-day Basic Training in TRIZ and Systematic Innovation for Technology and Engineering, October 6-8, 2008, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
  • 2-day Workshop "OTSM-TRIZ for Kids" (for teachers and parents), October 23-24, 2008, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (workshop leader: Nikolai Khomenko)
  • One-day Creative Imagination Development (for all areas), October 31, 2008,
    Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 2-day Root Conflict Analysis (RCA+) (for all areas), December 2-3, 2008,
    Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 5-day Advanced TRIZ and Systematic Innovation for Technology and Engineering, December 8-12, 2008, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

This fall a new course is announced: Root Conflict Analysis (RCA+). Although the RCA+ technique was introduced relatively recently (in 2004), more that 200 projects were already successfully performed with it; thus this new new 2-day course focuses on practical applications of RCA+ for those who is interested in in-depth study of how to use the technique. RCA+ can be used both in combination with TRIZ and independently.

Also, based on the success of the first workshop "OTSM-TRIZ for Kids", we announced the next workshop to be held in October. The content of the workshop remains the same, therefore those who missed the first workshop have an opportinity to join us in October.

We also introduced discounts for early registration.

More detailed information about the courses is available at

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

OTSM-TRIZ for Kids: Summary

Below is a summary and evaluation of the workshop "Using "Yes-No" Game and Riddles for Teaching OTSM-TRIZ and Various Regular School Subjects", conducted by Nikolai Khomenko in The Hague, 20-21 March 2008. This text was written by one of the workshop participants, Arjanne Boerendans. She kindly permitted to post her text to this blog. Many thanks, Arjanne!

After an introduction to Classical TRIZ and OTSM-TRIZ, Nikolai explained the basic concepts of OTSM-TRIZ in an educational context.

In “normal” life, the usual problem solving strategy is based on trial and error. However, this has a catastrophic effect on the way we solve problems, because it is very time consuming.
As we want a single solution (not many!) in the shortest possible time, we underestimate the amount of time it takes to find a satisfactory solution.

Instead, it is important to clearly frame the starting point, in terms of (system) environment, people, goals and constraints. Once the AS-IS situation is defined and shared among people, using problem solving tools is much more effective and solutions brighter.

In other words what we have to do is to become aware of our own psychological inertia and overcome its limits.

The problem solving process requires imagination; it involves specific knowledge and analytic and synthetic skills simultaneously with creative imagination and holistic approach; it is considered as a transformation of an initial situation into the description of a satisfactory solution. When facing a problem – when you don't understand something - it is not important to think about why things happen the way they do, but how. Thus, the challenge is to think of a way how to produce it. You have to learn how to pay attention to both details and the generalised level: zoom in, zoom out.

Education should be organised as a research game and team work. Additionnally, social activity takes place during communication. In the educational domain there are many applications of OTSM-TRIZ, not only for children, but for adults as well. Kids have almost no experience they can reuse and this can be a pro. Adults have to go through two steps: (a) remove mental inertia and (b) define the right “solution space” to investigate possible solutions.

The main goal of OTSM/TRIZ for KIDS is to provide kids with some hints and tips they can easily understand to narrow the space where the solution is, so that their search can be much quicker and more effective.

After the theory, it was time for PRACTICE.

We did some exercises to practice these abstractions in a very concrete way. The “Yes/No” game is the most powerful as well as easy game to play to develop the ability of thinking dichotomy. It stimulates people to ask questions that reduce the possibilities by half thus enabling them to find the solution much faster than by just guessing. Whether you play the game with numbers 1-10 in a linear game or with objects anywhere in the universe is of no importance. It depends on the kid’s age and capacities. Other games that have been practiced are riddles and story lines. It involves a lot of imagination, language etc.

The training has been a very good step after the introduction to the ideas of OTSM-TRIZ for Kids in November 2007. The participants have lots of ideas for the next steps in order to achieve the most desirable result: the availability of OTSM-TRIZ for every person.

Arjanne Boerendans

Monday, March 24, 2008

OTSM-TRIZ for Kids: Learning Power Thinking

Last Thursday and Friday, we run a workshop "TRIZ for Kids" led by Nikolai Khomenko in The Hague. The workshop was targeted at parents and teachers interested in incorporating OTSM-TRIZ components to improve kids education. It was certainly an inspirational event. Nikolai has been involved to developing educational programs on the basis of OTSM-TRIZ for kids during last 20 years, and certainly two days were just barely enough to cover some parts of the programs. For those who never met the term before, "OTSM" is a Russian abbreviation which stands for the "General Theory of Power Thinking" developed by Nikolai together with Genrich Altshuller, a founder of TRIZ. However unlike TRIZ, OTSM is not restricted to specific areas like technology or business since it targets at studying and uncovering a generic process of creative and innovative thinking regardless any specific area.

First, Nikolai introduced OTSM-TRIZ approach to kids education and developing thinking skills. The remaining and the largest part of the workshop was dedicated to interactive sessions on the basis of "Yes-No" games: teaching how to play the games (finding right answers as quickly as possible) using OTSM-TRIZ to ask right questions. This approach is based on several techniques: "thinking dichotomy" to narrow a possible search space; learning how to make "abstract-specific" thinking transitions to reformulate situations; and recognizing contradictions to construct exact questions. We also explored different types of "Yes-No" games, and a method for creating our own games. All the participants were enthusiastically involved to the process. Needless to say, they found that the method is not only useful for kids, and even if it can be played with kids of age as early as 3-4, we all can benefit from it.

The workshop was followed by a discussion how the material learned can be put to local educational systems and what next steps can be undertaken. We are really looking forward to new workshops in the nearest future.

Nikolai Khomenko explains the basics

During sessions

During creative breaks

Kids were with us, too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March 2008 TRIZ Newsletter

Our March 2008 TRIZ and Systematic Innovation newsletter is available at

In the newsletter: forthcoming courses and conferences, interesting links, recommended books, and the "principle of integration", one of 29 principles for creative innovation.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Great Example of Using Resources

A nice illustration of the TRIZ way of thinking! Although I am not sure TRIZ was known to authors of the idea of "PlayPump", but the idea is a very good illustration of several basic TRIZ concepts. First, ideality: how to achieve the desired results with as little as possible expenses? Second, use of resources. There is always a plenty resources around. A smart use of resources helps to find new, non-ordinary solutions which can considerably simplify a task and solve it in a very cost-effective way. Third - good solutions should always provide "win-win". Everyone wins, no one suffers. And no compromises!

In some developing countries, especially, in Africa, one of the most crucial problems is a clean water supply. Still, there is water - but deep underground. To install and operate a standard water pump would be too expensive. What to do? It is clear that we need energy. Is there are any cheap, or, preferably free energy resource available nearby?

"PlayPump" solves this problem in a very unusual way. Resource: kids. No, no kids labor in this case. That would be the worst and inacceptable solution. Instead - let kids play and pump water! The "PlayPump" is a water pump which is connected to a merry-go-round which serves as an engine for the pump. Kids play and water flows. Check this video from National Geographics:

Monday, February 11, 2008

TRIZ Future 2007 Conference Overview

For those who are interested in TRIZ developments, Toru Nakagawa, Professor of Osaka Gakun University in Japan, prepared a detailed overview of papers and presentations from the latest TRIZ conference "TRIZ Future 2007" which took place in Frankfurt last year. The overview is richly illustrated by images from paper presentations.

The report is freely available at TRIZ Home Page in Japan. There is also a PDF version at the bottom of the page.