TRIZ (Teoriya Resheniya Izobretatelskikh Zadatch) is a Russian acronym which, when translated into English, means Theory of Inventive Problem Solving.
The initial work in developing TRIZ was started by Genrich Altshuller in 1946 in Russia. Together with many colleagues and followers, they analysed over 200,000 patents and identified the common patterns in the innovative solutions presented in the patents. TRIZ has since evolved as researchers have continued to study enhance its toolset.
TRIZ can be seen as a means for increasing innovation. One way of looking at TRIZ is as a collection of tools that facilitate creativity and innovation in problem solving. The initial TRIZ research was focused on fostering creativity in solving technical and engineering problems. However, more research has been carried out to apply the original TRIZ tools and thinking to business problems. The main premise of TRIZ is that creativity can be structured and repeated because "someone, somewhere has already solved a problem like yours". So, why not repeat or re-use the strategies that worked so well for 'someone'? These strategies are encompassed in the key tools and conceptsof TRIZ:
40 Inventive Principles – a list of 40 principles of inventive thought that resulted from the analysis of thousands of patents. Each principle represent a strategy or thought direction for solving specific types of problems;
Contradiction – the notion that inventive solutions to problems are achieved when conflicts and trade-offs are eliminated. TRIZ provides a contradiction matrix that utilises the 40 inventive problems to help identify inventive solution directions;
Resources – effective and creative use of things within and outside a system even seemingly negative resources;
Functionality – focus on the functions required from a system (solutions change, functions stay the same);
Space/Time/Interface – viewing systems from different spatial, temporal and interface contexts;
Ideality – the concept that systems evolve in the direction of increasing ‘idealness’.
In addition, there are a wide range of tools in TRIZ to facilitate creative problem solving including: Ideal Final Result, Trends of Evolution, S-Curve Analysis etc. These can be utilised in a structured way to bring about innovative solutions.