Along with the notable increase in competition to develop new products, processes or services, and the consequent reduction of time to bring them to market, creativity methodologies have become imperative to break paradigms and mental inertia quickly and efficiently.
Are there methodological tools in this regard?, the answer is yes. Based on the method of trial and error, that has reached very low success rates, following with the popular method of brainstorming, to finally get to others equally known as Edward de Bono’s lateral thinking or synectics.
Such approaches, which rely on intuition and knowledge of the team members involved in the process, tend to unpredictable and unrepeatable results, and even worse, many solutions can get “lost” on the way simply because they do not belong to the participants experience.
However, there is a unique methodology that has impacted the West since the Berlin Wall fell, settling as the inventive methodology standard for technical problems solving: TRIZ.
WHAT IS TRIZ?
TRIZ is a methodology for solving technical problems based on logic, data and research, not intuition. It is based on past knowledge and ingenuity of thousands of engineers, accelerating the project teams’ abbility to solve problems creatively. TRIZ provides repeatability, predictability and reliability to the process of solving technical problems with its algorithmic and structured approach. So, the door to the “Systematic Innovation” gets open.
TRIZ helps the technical staff of companies (design, quality, R&D, engineering department, manufacturing, etc.) to:
Simplify technically products, processes or services, gaining in cost, reliability and lifetime.
Resolve conflicts and technical contradictions avoiding compromise solutions.
Lead to the scientific and technical knowledge to solve the problem. In many situations the problem’s difficulty lies in that the solution does not belong to the field of expertise of the technicians, the company, sector or even the industry, in general terms.
Conceive quickly the next generation of products, processes or services. It is an excellent tool for technology foresight. That means, given any functional need, TRIZ predicts in detail a range of innovative designs that will satisfy the function.
Get patentable solutions, helping the methodology itself to get a better quality patent portfolio.
Genrikh S. Altshuller
TRIZ, a Russian acronym for “Theory Reshenia Izobretatelskih Zadatch” which means “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving” (TIPS, in English), was born by the initiative of the russian engineer, inventor and researcher Genrikh S. Altshuller. Since childhood, Altshuller demonstrated talent for creativity and invention; at the young age of 14 received a certificate of authorship for inventing a diving device (keep in mind that the former USSR did not grant patents to its citizens because private property was forbidden).
Altshuller had always been interested in the process of technical creation; in his own words: “… I felt more and more interested in the mechanics of creativity, how inventions arose?, what happens in the head of the inventor…”. This led him to assert that creativity could not only be developed, but could even be systematized. He began to examine a large database of inventions of his own and others, reaching three important conclusions:
- Problems and their solutions are repeated in all industries and sciences. The classification of contradictions of each problem predicts the creative solutions to that problem.
- Patterns of technical evolution are repeated across industries and sciences.
- Innovations use scientific effects outside the field where they were developed.
Altshuller started developing TRIZ methodology while working at the “Inventions Inspection” deparment of the Caspian flotilla (Soviet Navy) in Baku (Azerbaijan), under Stalin. By 1969, he had reviewed about 40.000 patent abstracts with the help of his colleagues, in order to find out how the invention had occurred. Over time they developed what are called “40 Inventive Principles”, several Laws of Technical Systems Evolution, the concepts of Technical and Physical Contradictions that creative inventions must solve, the concept of Ideality of a system and numerous other theoretical and practical approaches. All the above became part of what is known as “classical TRIZ”.
After Altshuller’s death (1998), his colleagues have continued to deepen the research, have revised over 3 million patents, and have increased the number and effectiveness of the methodology’s available tools (over 30) to create the so-called “modern TRIZ”.
Thousands of patents have been obtained using the TRIZ methodology, and worldwide leading companies such as BOEING, PROCTER & GAMBLE or SAMSUNG consider it “the best practice of innovation”.
“TRIZ is the INTEL’s innovation platform of the 21st century”
CONCEPTS AND TOOLS
As a brief introduction to TRIZ and Systematic Innovation, following there are some concepts and descriptions of the basic tools:
A dimensionless measure of an inventive solution which qualitatively identifies how closely the sum of compensation factors to produce, maintain and utilize the solution approaches zero value.
Thus, the “Degree of Ideality” identifies the degree of efficiency of the solution, the system, or the process through qualitative estimation of the ratio between useful functionality provided by the system/process/solution and a sum of costs to produce, maintain and utilize the useful functionality. The Degree of Ideality is primarily used to evaluate if a technical system/process/solution being analyzed is more ideal than a competing system/process/solution that provides the same main useful function.
A solution which delivers the result required without the use of neither material and energy resources nor associated costs. As follows from the laws of physics such a solution may never be achieved and therefore the concept of the Ideal Final Result serves to reduce the degree of psychological inertia during the problem solving process by targeting a problem solver towards searching for a solution with the best Ideality ratio.
A situation that emerges when two opposite demands have to be met in order to provide the result required. A contradiction is argued to be a major obstacle to solve an inventive problem and is used as an abstract inventive problem model in a number of TRIZ tools.
Three types of contradictions are known in TRIZ: 1) Administrative, 2) Engineering, and 3) Physical.
Inventive principles are recommendations that provide generic guideline(s) indicating how to solve an inventive problem represented as an engineering or physical contradiction. Inventive Principles were extracted and formulated on the basis of extensive studies of diverse documents describing inventions (such as patents) and innovations. Each of these principles proved successful implementation in more than 80 inventions.
The 40 Inventive Principles and some strategies or recommendations for use are as follows:
- Divide an object into independent parts or linked parts
- Divide an object into parts so that some of its part can be easily taken away (and brought back) when necessary
- Increase the degree of the object’s segmentation (fragmentation)
- TAKING AWAY
- Extract (remove or separate) a “harmful” part or property of an object
- Extract only the necessary part or property
- LOCAL QUALITY
- Transition from a homogeneous structure of an object or external environment (external action), to a heterogeneous structure
- Different parts of the object carry out different functions
- Redesign an object and environment so that each part of the object must be in conditions most proper for operation
- If an object has symmetrical shape, make it asymmetrical
- If an object is asymmetrical, increase the degree of asymmetry
- Merge identical (or similar) parts, components, or functions of objects in space
- Merge identical (or similar) parts, components, or functions of objects in time
- The object perform multiple functions, thus the need to use some other object is removed
- Place one object inside another
- Make one object pass through a cavity of another object
- If the weight of an object causes problems, compensate the weight by merging it with another object that provides lifting force
- Place an object into environment that provides aerodynamic, hydrodynamic or other lifting force
- PRIOR ANTI-ACTION
- If you need to carry out an action, consider doing a counteraction beforehand
- If the problem specifies that the object must be under stress, provide for a counter-stress in advance
- PRIOR ACTION
- Carry out the required action in advance fully, or at least partially
- Arrange objects so that they can take action without wasting time
- BEFOREHAND CUSHIONING
- Compensate for the relatively low reliability of an object by countermeasures taken in advance
- Change working conditions for an object, avoiding to be raised or lowered
- OTHER WAY ROUND
- Instead of function required perform antipodal function to achieve a positive effect
- Make the movable part of an object fixed or the fixed part movable
- Turn an object upside down
- Instead of linear parts of an object, use curve parts
- Use rollers, balls, spirals
- Use rotary motion. Use centrifugal forces
- Make an object or environment dynamically change to be in accord with the required conditions at each stage of operation
- Divide an objects into parts capable of movement relative to each other
- If an object is immobile, make it movable
- SLIGHTLY LESS OR MORE
- If it is not possible to precisely achieve the required change, or to perform some action, reformulate the problem: how to make slightly less or slightly more and only then to achieve the required result
- ANOTHER DIMENSION
- If an object moves along a line, consider movement within two-dimensional plane. In the same way, if an object moves in plane, consider movement within three-dimensional space
- Rearrange objects so that instead of single-storied arrangement achieve multi-storied arrangement
- Tilt an object
- Use other side of the area given
- Make an object or its parts vibrate or oscillate
- If an object is in oscillatory motion, increase the frequency of oscillations, even ultrasonic
- Use resonance frequencies
- Use piezoelectric vibrators instead of mechanical ones
- Use ultrasonic frequencies in combination with electromagnetic field
- PERIODIC ACTION
- Instead of continuous action use periodic, pulsed actions
- If an action is periodic, change its frequency
- Use pauses between pulses to perform some other action
- ACTION CONTINUITY
- All parts of a system (object) must work continuously
- Eliminate all idle running
- HIGH SPEED
- If an object is subjected to harmful or hazardous actions within some process, perform the required process at very high speed
- BLESSING IN DISGUISE
- Use harmful factors or negative effects that arise in your system, your process or their environments to achieve positive results
- Eliminate a harmful factor by adding it with another harmful factor
- Amplify the harmful factor to such degree so that it would stop bringing harm to your system or its environment
- Introduce feedback to a system or its environment
- Increase the magnitude and scale of the existing feedback
- Use an intermediate carrier to provide necessary functionality or to eliminate negative effects while preserving positive effects
- Temporarily merge an object/system with a foreign object/system that will provide the required action and then, if necessary, remove the foreign object/system
- An object/system must serve itself by performing tuning, adjusting and repair operations all by itself
- Use of waste materials and energy
- USE OF COPIES AND MODELS
- If you need to undertake certain actions with respect to unavailable, complex, expensive or dangerous object, use its copy instead of the object
- Instead of real objects, use their “virtual” images (images, holograms)
- Use infrared or ultraviolet copies
- CHEAP AND SHORT LIFE
- Replace an expensive object/system with a multitude of cheap ones
- PRINCIPLE REPLACEMENT
- Mechanical principle underlying an object should be replaced with another physical principle: optical, acoustic, magnetic, electromagnetic, thermal, and so forth
- Use an electromagnetic, electric or magnetic field for interaction with the object
- Replace fields: stationary with mobile, fixed with periodic, from random to structured
- Use a field in conjunction with ferromagnetic particles
- USE OF GASES AND FLUIDS
- Instead of a solid object or its part use gases or liquids: inflatable and filled with liquids, air cushion, hydrostatic and hydro-reactive designs
- THIN FILMS AND FLEXIBLE SHELLS
- Instead of heavy three-dimensional structures use flexible shells and thin films
- Use flexible shells and thin films to isolate the object or its part from environment
- POROUS MATERIALS
- Make an object porous or use additional porous elements (coatings, inserts, etc.)
- If an object is porous, fill the pores with other substance, liquid or gas to achieve the required results
- COLOR AND TRANSPARENCY CHANGE
- Change the color of an object, its part or environment
- Change transparency of an object, its part or environment
- Use colored, luminous or fluorescent marks to detect changes in an object
- Make objects interact with a primary object of the same material or a material with similar behavior
- DISCARD AND RECOVER
- Reject or modify an element of an object after its function has been delivered or has become useless (discard, dissolve or evaporate)
- Restore consumable parts of a system during operation
- PARAMETER CHANGE
- Change an object’s aggregate state, density, flexibility, temperature, pressure, etc.
- PHASE TRANSITION EFFECTS
- Use physical phenomena accompanying phase transitions: change of volume, shape, emission or absorbing of heat, etc.
- EXPANSION EFFECTS
- Use thermal expansion or contraction of materials
- Merge two materials with different coefficients of thermal expansión
- ENRICHED ENVIRONMENT
- Replace air with enriched air
- Replace the enriched air with pure oxygen
- Ionize air or oxygen
- Use ionized air, use ozone
- INERT ENVIRONMENT
- Replace existing environment with inert one
- COMPOSITE STRUCTURES
- Use composite materials instead of uniform ones
Provides systematic access to the most used inventive principles to solve a specific type of technical contradiction. In the Contradiction Matrix, the specific type of contradiction is selected by default engineering parameters. The matrix, in its original version, has 39 system features organized by contradictory couples, in this way, the left column has the positive aspects of the contradiction, and the top row has the negative one. At the intersection between negative and positive aspect there is a set of associated inventive principles to settle the conflict. Not all of contradictory couples have a set of associated inventive principles.
The original matrix was developed by G. Altshuller (known as “Altshuller Matrix”) and subsequently updated by other developers of TRIZ. Subsequent revisions and amendments to the original matrix are generally known as “Contradiction Matrix”.
A modeling of a minimal technical system consisting of two components formed by substances (Su) and fields (Field) that provides interaction between the “substance” components. The substances can be molecules, water, gas, sand, a computer, a pen, a car, a dog, wheels, etc.; moreover, the fields can be magnetic, electrical, mechanical, chemical, thermal, nuclear, acoustic, etc.
The minimum full Su-Field model is graphed as a symbolic triangle with nodes representing the two substances, the field, and lines between nodes representing interactions between components. Any technical system can be considered either as a single one or as a network of Su-Fields. A special type of Su-Field is known as “Measurement Su-Field ” which may include only one “substance” component.
A problem-solving method which proposes a rule presenting how to transform a given Su-Field to achieve the result required. The description of the rule consists of two parts: its left part presents an existing Su-Field that has to be improved (a generic model of a problem) and its right part presents a Su-Field that implements such an improvement (a generic model of a solution).
From the above definition there have been developed Inventive Standards sets reaching 76 in its classical version, classified into 5 classes: synthesis and decomposition of systems, evolution of systems, transition to supersystems and microlevel, synthesis of measurement and detection systems, and helpers.
A database of scientific effects from a scientific discipline in which the effects are structured and categorized according to generic technical functions that can be obtained on the basis of specific scientific effects.
In each Catalogue, the effects are combined to different groups which include those effects that can deliver a generic technical function. The following Catalogues of Scientific Effects are known: 1) Catalogue of Physical Effects, 2) Catalogue of Chemical Effects, 3) Catalogue of Geometric Effects, 4) Catalogue of Biological Effects.
Original and still in use term originated by the founder of TRIZ G. Altshuller to present a number of common generic patterns, trends and lines which govern evolution of all technical systems. Later the term began to be replaced by “Trends of Technical Systems Evolution”, due to the lack of accurate statistical evidence that the laws of of technical systems evolution are valid for all technical systems, under certain circumstances without exception.
The central analytical tool of TRIZ (ARIZ is a Russian abbreviation of Algorithm of Inventive Problem Solving). Its basis is a sequence of logical procedures to analyze a vague or ill-defined initial problem/situation and transform it into a distinct system conflict.
Consideration of the system conflict leads to the formulation of a physical contradiction whose elimination is provided with the help of the separation principles, and by the maximal utilization of the resources of the subject system. ARIZ is a system of the most fundamental concepts and methods of TRIZ, such as ideal technical system (ideal system), system conflict, physical contradiction, the Su-Field analysis, the Inventive Standards and the Laws of Technical Systems Evolution.
The technique includes a number of psychological and systemic operators to support its procedures.
“from IDEA to MANUFACTURING boosting TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION in Industrial SMEs”