TS Newsletter Archive

3.03.2011

What is TRIZ?

TRIZ is a systematic approach to problem solving developed by Genrich Altshuller who analyzed 40,000 patents. TRIZ is a Russian acronym for “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving.”
Whenever in a Design or Improvement project there is always a point where the team has to be creative in order to: do something differently, improve a characteristic, avoid future mistakes, and long etcetera. More often than not, the task is to solve a problem that implies contradictions on its resolution, such as “Improving the heat transfer capability of a radiation while keeping it small”. In this point, one of the most common approaches is to brainstorm.
Widely known, brainstorming is a conference technique by which a group attempts to find a solution for a specific problem by amassing all the ideas spontaneously by its members, subjected to the following rules.
·         Postpone and withhold your judgment of ideas
·         Relax. Let pictures freely come to your mind.
·         Encourage wild and exaggerated ideas
·         Quantity counts, not quality
·         Every person and every ideas has equal worth
·         Build on the ideas put forward by others
·         Write ideas down, and vote on a ranking
It is a Right Brain based methodology where the search is focused finding new ideas.
Nevertheless, when the approach to a creative solution entitles handle contradictions on physical aspects, brainstorming can derive in a physiological inertia that challenges the inventive process. This leads teams to jump directly from problem into solutions without having an intensive definition process on the problem itself. In this case TRIZ can help to solve contradictory problems since it:
· Provides a Knowledge Base of Engineering Application of Physical, Chemical, and Geometric Effects
· Provides a Standard Approach to Inventive Problems
· Provides an Algorithm for Inventive Problem Solving
TRIZ is a problem solving method based on logic and data, not intuition, which accelerates the project team's ability to solve these problems creatively. TRIZ also provides repeatability, predictability, and reliability due to its structure and algorithmic approach.
TRIZ is a left-brain methodology that focuses on
· Define the current system, and identify all the elements of the system, the interactions, and the available and hidden resources.
· Clearly define the problem. If you have a potential solution, ask why the potential solution can not be implemented to solve the problem?
· Define why the potential solution does not work. Focus on Why? Is it a …
o Lack of understanding of the problem? Then fully define problem and review past solution methods looking for an adaptation of prior methodology
o Technical or physical conflict? Use contradiction matrix
o If you do not know how to solve, then focus on IP technology in and outside your current field
How can TRIZ help the improvement teams to understand the problem and provide a solution based on a systematic approach? TRIZ research began with the hypothesis that there are universal principles of creativity that are the basis for creative innovations that advance technology, in summary:
Somebody someplace has already solved this problem (or one very similar to it.)
The inventive process now is to find the way to adapt a predetermined solution to a particular problem. TRIZ principles, after sixty year of research, indicate that:
· Innovations emerge from the application of a small number of inventive principles and strategies that seek to resolve all of the system's conflicts
· Technology evolution trends are predictable and adaptable
· Strong solutions transform unwanted or harmful elements into useful resources, or removes them altogether
· Strong solutions seek out and destroy conflicts and trade-offs
Much of the practice of TRIZ consists of learning patterns of problems-solutions, patterns of technical evolution and methods of using scientific effects, and then applying the general TRIZ patterns to the specific situation that confronts the developer, as it is described in the next graphic.

The entire TRIZ application methodology is based on 4 pilars that have to be defined for each problem to be solved using this methodology; those are:
· Contradictions: Identify What is Holding You Back and Remove It
· Ideality:   Benefits / (Costs +  Harm) Seek the Optimum Solution 
· Functionality: Identify the Primary and Auxiliary Functions of the Object or System
· Use of Resources: Build Off of Other People’s Knowledge
TRIZ research has developed a lot of tools to help practitioners to overcome the first fundamental principle of TRIZ, to eliminate contradictions. These contradictions can be classified into two categories:
1.     Physical or "inherent" contradictions are situations in which one object or system has contradictory, opposite requirements.
2.     Technical contradictions or engineering "trade-offs." The desired state can't be reached because something else in the system prevents it. In other words, when something gets better, something else gets worse.
TRIZ research has identified 40 principles that solve the Technical/tradeoff contradictions and four principles of separation that solve the Physical/inherent contradictions. If you want to learn more about how TRIZ can help your projects to achieve a systematic, logical and rational solution to your problem solution projects, contact TeraSigma to get consultation on this and other problem solution methodologies.

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