TRIZ - Theory of Inventive Problem Solving

Overview

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.

How can TRIZ help me?

Business Problems
TRIZ can help you identify, re-define and solve business problems innovatively.
As an example, TRIZ believes that identifying the contradictions within your business (i.e. trade-off situations) is key to boosting business performance. Traditional approach for dealing with trade-offs is through compromise but TRIZ has demonstrated that 'eliminating' these trade-off situations result in innovative solutions to various business problems. TRIZ elimiates trade-offs using the time-tested combination of contradiction matrix and 40 inventive principles.
TRIZ can also help you to: identify limits to existing systems; identify new opportunities for utilising your systems and capabilities; identify and solve process problems; develop new business opportunities and resolve strategic issues.
Engineering Problems
TRIZ can also help you identify, re-define and solve engineering and other technical problems innovatively. In fact, the initial TRIZ development was focused on solving technical problems.
Utilising the tools available in TRIZ such as the contradication matrix, 40 inventive principles, patterns of evolution of systems etc., makes it is likely that you will generate intellectual property that may be protectable. Such IP rights could significantly boost your business position.
Do you want to know more about TRIZ?

Please do give me a shout or drop me an email if you want to find out how TRIZ works or how it can help you.

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