Sunday, November 15, 2009

TRIZ Café on November 11, 2009: Full of Energy

On Wednesday, November 11, 2009 we had another meeting of TRIZ Café at the hotel “Eindhoven”, at the outskirts of the city of Eindhoven. Since a primary goal of our TRIZ Cafe meetings is to bring together people who are interested in TRIZ to get to know each other and share knowledge and ideas, we did not have a fixed pre-set agenda except starting and finishing times and some presentation titles, and thus preferred to make our decisions “on the fly” depending on wishes of the participants.

In total, there were 20 participants representing 16 different organizations, including Delta Electronics, Evonik Colortrends, Sioux Embedded Systems, Stork Food Systems, Oce Technologies, Sensata, TNO Science and Industry, University of Twente, and smaller companies. There were more people on the list, but not everyone could make it.

In the beginning of presentations

Koen Arends (Stork Food Systems), Han de Ronde (Delta Electronics), Peter Vollard (Tedac)

After starting and 13:00 and spending approximately two hours for coffee/tea, meetings, talks, and introductions, we switched to the presentations prepared by the participants. First, I made a presentation about a link between TRIZ and Creative Imagination Development (CID). Although CID used to be a very important part of TRIZ education during the “Altshuller’s TRIZ era”, lately it has been paid less attention due to a general demand within industry for “fast learning”. But how are we going to solve complex creative problems without creativity? Thus I presented my vision of how CID techniques could be coupled with principles of “power innovative thinking”, and how these techniques could boost and develop further our innovative thinking skills and enhance the use of TRIZ methods and tools.

Valeri Souchkov (me) presenting TRIZ and CID

Next, Guido Giebens (Antrim, Antwerp) presented a board game “ANTRI3” which his company developed on the basis of TRIZ. The game uses many TRIZ concepts (such as IFR, Su-Field Modeling, etc. ) and is used to enhance creative teamwork during innovative projects. An idea of a TRIZ-based game is not new, but it was quite inspirational to see how a strategic approach to “walking towards a solution” was implemented by combining fun and “serious TRIZ”.

Guido Giebens (Antrim) presents TRIZ Game

Next, we decided to switch from presentations to something new, which we called “Express TRIZ Case”. In short, it is one-hour exercise on solving a real problem which is brought to the session by one of the participating organizations. During the session, all other TRIZ Cafe participants take part as well – and it does not matter if they are TRIZ newcomers or TRIZ professionals. One of the prerequisites of such exercise is that no one (except a problem owner) knows in advance what a problem will be.

We selected a problem brought by Stork Food Systems which was related to food processing industry. Of course, one hour is too short to go through the entire TRIZ process, but nevertheless we managed to use Root Conflict Analysis to quickly decompose the problem to underlying contradictions, and then inventive principles, Ideal Final Results, Modeling with Miniature Dwarfs, and inventive standards to propose a number of new innovative solution concepts. Unfortunately, we cannot tell more to general public about the problem and solutions found since all participants agreed for confidentiality – and as Koen Arends, Innovation Manager of Stork Food Systems said after the session, one or two ideas generated were of a high potential to be patented and implemented.

During "TRIZ Case Express Session": Thomas Dekker (Stork Food Systems)

I personally liked this session since it demonstrated the power of TRIZ to attack complex problems in fast and efficient way if we follow a predefined TRIZ process and let everyone present in the room to be involved. Although in the very beginning of the session, after formulation of the problem there were some attempts of brainstorming and directly jumping to solutions, it became very quickly clear that we actually, were jumping to a dead end. Therefore we had to stop it and drive audience along the TRIZ process – and it worked. As expected, most effective solution ideas emerged after we defined a core physical contradiction, operational zone and operational time (which one would never do without TRIZ). As one of participants from Stork Food Systems noted, that during the first 15 minutes of generating ideas with TRIZ, we reproduced one of the ideas to find which Stork spent three years (without TRIZ). Thus it was a clear demonstration how TRIZ could drastically help accelerating a process of finding high-quality inventive ideas.

After a short break, we continued with presentations. Dr. Wessel Wits (University of Twente, Enschede) presented a program and results of our two-week “full immersion” TRIZ Summer Course which was introduced this summer at the University of Twente. He also demonstrated some examples of problems which students were solving during the course and some new ideas of solutions found by the students (and the TRIZ Cafe audience really liked these examples). The course was quite successful and students rated it rather high comparing to similar courses. Wessel also announced the next course which will take part in the last week of June-first week of July of 2010. We plan to make this course open so if anyone is interested in joining, please let me know.

Wessel Wits (University of Twente)
And the last presentation of the day was made by Albert van der Kuij, business development and standards engineer from Sensata, Almelo. He shared his experience gathered during last 5 years of application TRIZ within the company focusing on how TRIZ can be embedded to projects, and focused on the links between Six Sigma, QFD and TRIZ. He also proposed his vision of how QFD, FMEA, TRIZ and Six Sigma’s DMADV process can be used at each step of new product development: from ideas conception to product supply.

Albert van der Kuij (Sensata)

In fact, we had more presentations on the list, but it was already after 20:00 – time to close our sessions. Therefore we postponed them to our next meeting, which will take place in early 2010. In the meantime we plan to use the LinkedIn group “Dutch TRIZ Community” for communication.

As a conclusion, I believe that our second TRIZ Café was a good step towards strengthening and expanding our TRIZ network. Modern TRIZ is not an easy subject to learn and use so we all need such meetings to share our knowledge and experiences, to get to know about new TRIZ developments and tools, especially from practical point of view. What I really liked was to see how enthusiastic and energized people felt during the meeting. I hope these energy and enthusiasm will stay with us and grow further.

Videos of presentations from the TRIZ Café will be shortly made available together with corresponding powerpoint slides. I will post to this blog and make announcement as soon as they are ready.

More photos from the event are available at  

I’d like to thank everyone who made our second TRIZ Café possible and hope to see you next time!

Our coffee machine. It had a very strange behaviour: all of a sudden it started to work and produce high-pitched noise... when no one was around. Definitely, an "ideal" coffee machine.