TRIZ: A Best-In-Class Innovation Tool

TRIZ, a systematic innovation technique developed in Russia, whose acronym is loosely translated as “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving,” is based on an analysis of the inventive attributes of several hundred thousand patents.  Evolving since the 1950s, the body of knowledge was codified and documented by the 1980s.  It was first translated into English in 1992.

Like mathematics, where two plus two always equals four, the inventive attributes of patents are timeless.  Several companies, in very recent times, have repeated and expanded the analysis of the original inventor without any significant changes to Genrich Altshuller’s original findings.  Now deceased, several global organizations continue to nurture and espouse his TRIZ frameworks.

GGI researched some 300 innovation tools that are available to practitioners today.  Not a surprise, the USPTO web site was the most cited tool being used by companies in North America. TRIZ emerged as the second most popular innovation tool in use today.

TRIZ Plus – A Modern Tool for Enhancing Design Innovation , was written by Doug Hoon in his blog on Machine Design’s web site. He describes some of the key attributes and benefits of the methodology, and cited some of GGI’s research findings on TRIZ.

6 Responses to “TRIZ: A Best-In-Class Innovation Tool”

  1. B. Bouton Says:

    The classic version of TRIZ was all about solving a particular problem, even if it was the wrong one. Great progress has been made over the past two decades ” Do you have recommendations on a self study and on an immersive study of the updated versions?”

  2. Don Coates Says:

    The Altshuller Institute for TRIZ studies welcomes knowledgeable professionals to present at our annual conference, TRIZCON. It is the largest international TRIZ Conference in the world. TRIZCON2016 will be held March 3-5, 2016 in New Orleans. The conference will be hosted by Tulane University.

  3. Bill Hessler Says:

    I have found that TRIZ is a fundamental building block to help (new and old) employees establish a common baseline for innovation and creative thinking. I know Blah, Blah, Blah…, but one gas turbine manufacturer I worked for saw how absolutely powerful TRIZ was because it got their designers and engineers to expand their creativity comfort zone. It challenged and changed their usual way of problem solving, inventing, and creativity so much that they created their own internal TRIZ training program and they hold their cards pretty close to their chests. One designer said he had been designing for decades and never knew there were 39 possible TRIZ characteristics, or that there were 40 possible TRIZ principles. This designer was even more shocked that there are repeatable relationships that form patterns when these are used in a Matrix. And this gas turbine company had a MATRIX for everything!!!….except innovation. He was kind of mad, he was not taught this much earlier in his career. And when this became a way to create ideas and leverage more unique ideas faster, the company didn’t want to share any examples that might get back to their competitors. This is why many good TRIZ examples are not shared or they are so de-featured and silly that everyone says..”I could have created that without TRIZ.” In reality, you probably see the use of TRIZ principles every day.

    You could relate TRIZ in similarity to the math analogy. You need to know your basic multiplication tables, some postulates, some theorems, simple volume, simple area equations, and you can learn algebra, calculus and differential equations. TRIZ is not the magic bullet.. but it helps you understand trends, patterns, and repeatable steps that ANYONE can use. And when you solve a math problem.. you usually don’t say “really glad I learned that the Area of a circle is pi*R Squared in fifth grade.”

    My kids know basic TRIZ and they are able to solve real world problems, simple thought experiments, and can find solutions to everyday issues.. without using Google…imagine that.

  4. Victor Fey Says:

    @ B. Bouton. Let me first comment on your remark that “The classic version of TRIZ was all about solving a particular problem, even if it was the wrong one.” The increasingly popular belief that the so-called “classical” TRIZ wasn’t concerned much with problem formulation and selection is, in fact, a misconception. In his 1961 book on the methodology of invention (that’s how TRIZ was known then), “How to Learn to Invent,” Altshuller specified problem selection as the first key step in the problem-solving process that later evolved into ARIZ, the most powerful analytical tool of TRIZ. Altshuller developed several subsequent versions of ARIZ, and each of them, but the last one published in 1985, featured an initial multi-step problem selection procedure. The reason Altshuller excluded this procedure from the 1985 version was that, in his view, the former lacked the rigorousness of other following procedures and thus had to be further developed before it could be reinstated as a comparably valuable part of the algorithm.

    Some of the TRIZ problem formulation and selection innovations of late did increase the effectiveness of the analytical part of TRIZ system development processes, but they have reinvigorated a stalled effort rather than initiated it.

    As for your question about an in-depth study of TRIZ, alas, there is no one text that covers all of its tools and approaches used by the leading practitioners. If you are looking for a systematic and comprehensive exposure of “classical” TRIZ, its basic and advanced tools, illustrated by dozens of step-by-step examples (including a detailed treatment of ARIZ and sufield analysis), then http://www.amazon.com/Innovation-Demand-Product-Development-Using/dp/0521826209 is your choice (a shameful plug detected!). A comprehensive coverage of sufield analysis is also given in both http://www.amazon.com/Triz-Solution-Innovative-Problem-Solving/dp/9080468010/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438621557&sr=1-2&keywords=salamatov and http://www.triz.com.tw/Isak2/Publication.html. Since there is no consensus among TRIZ experts as to what exactly “post-classical” TRIZ is, there is no text that can be recommended as a definitive guide to it. If you can obtain a copy of Gen3’s training materials, you will get a good overview of some major approaches used in modern TRIZ.

    No matter how many good books on TRIZ you read and how many end-of-chapter exercises you solve, you may likely have problems with internalizing many of the tools. such is a nature of TRIZ. The most robust way to overcome this difficulty is to secure a prolonged and steady guidance from a good teacher. Look for somebody who offers extended training in basic and advanced TRIZ, whether it is remote (distance learning) or in a class setting. Just keep in mind that TRIZ is both science and art, and only those who have a long proven record of applying TRIZ can guide you in these two.

  5. B. Bouton Says:

    Thank you all for your thoughtful replies.

  6. Alla Zusman Says:

    Victor is right. In early versions of ARIZ, Altshuller had certain recommendations regarding problem selection (Part 1). However, in 1982 this part was removed because it didn’t measure up to more rigorous and advanced other parts. Problem formulation techniques developed in the late 1980s, that became software supported in the early 1990s, allowed this gap to be closed and offered much more.

    To keep this comment brief, for people interested in the most systemic and substantial advances to TRIZ made in the last 20-30 years, I would recommend folks visit our website http://www.ideationtriz.com. The site is under reconstruction now; however it shouldn’t be a problem to explore it.

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