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.