By Valeri Souchkov
Previously published on the ICG Training & Consulting website.
The following is an annotated list of key TRIZ concepts and techniques, which over the years have proven to be successful.
Main theoretical foundation of TRIZ. A philosophy behind the theory of technology evolution is that every man-made product (or technical system) that was designed to deliver certain functional value tends to evolve in a systematic way according to generic patterns and trends of evolution.
Altshuller made this conclusion on the basis of comprehensive studies of hundreds of thousands of patents, books and articles presenting the history of technological products evolution. The TRIZ laws and trends of evolution are independent of any specific technological area.
Specific laws and trends of technology evolution. In total, TRIZ presents nine laws and trends of evolution. A number of trends include more specific lines and patterns indicating how a system or its parts evolve over time.
The TRIZ trends and laws are powerful knowledge that provide the basis to predict what will happen next with a selected product or a technology, from the perspective of internal evolutionary potential of a system.
The multi-screen diagram of thinking specifies that any specific system (product, technology, organization, etc.) can be viewed at three levels: system (the system itself within its boundaries), sub-systems and super-system. In addition, at each level, the past and the future of the system, super-system or supersystem are considered to understand what factors drive evolution of the system.
This approach helps to analyze the system's evolution by taking into account relationships with an outer world and also predicts further evolution. According to Altshuller, this way of thinking is a feature of outstanding inventors, artists, musicians – those who create breakthrough ideas by seeing the world through the prism of system thinking. Although not easy to use, the multi-screen diagram of thinking is a powerful tool of system analysis and forecast.
Ideality is a major trend of man-made systems evolution in TRIZ. The degree of ideality is defined as a ratio among the overall performance of a system (everything that creates value), the harmful effects produced by the system (everything that diminishes its value) and the costs necessary to achieve its performance (everything that is needed to create value). Ideality in TRIZ is a qualitative measure that is not calculated directly but serves as a guideline during problem solving and new idea generation.
Enables formulating target solutions in terms of ideality. Formulation of the Ideal Final Result helps to correctly set-up goals, fight mental inertia and design cost-effective products and services.
A contradiction in TRIZ is a primary problem model that is used to formulate inventive problems. As stated by Altshuller, emergence of a contradiction is a main feature that distinguishes an ordinary problem from an inventive problem. Contradictions arise when two mutually exclusive demands are put on the same system or object and there is no known way to meet them.
TRIZ introduces three types of contradictions: 1) administrative, 2) technical and 3) physical. TRIZ states that to obtain an inventive (breakthrough) solution, a contradiction must be eliminated rather than optimized.
During problem solving, resources play a major role in TRIZ. The proper use of available resources helps to obtain more cost-effective and ideal solutions without complicating a system and introducing new expensive components and materials. Resources are available at both system and super-system levels and can be material (e.g., substances, fields) and immaterial (e.g., information). Although originally Resource Analysis was a part of ARIZ, today Resource Analysis is also used together with other TRIZ techniques.
Function Analysis is a modification of original Value-Engineering Analysis (VEA). Utilizing the same basic approach to modeling existing products in terms of components and functions delivered by the components, FA differs from VEA in how function is defined. In FA, the function is an effect of a physical interaction between two system components.
FA has algorithms for ranking functions and problems. FA is useful for conducting a systematic analysis of products and formulating problems in terms required by the other TRIZ problem solving techniques.
Inventive principles for technical contradiction elimination are used to eliminate problems represented in terms of technical contradictions. Inventive principles describe a solution pattern that can be applied to resolve the contradiction or a direction in which a problem has to be solved. There are 40 inventive principles for resolving technical contradictions in TRIZ (some TRIZ extensions present 50 principles).
The first technique, and still the most popular, was developed by Altshuller in the sixties. Based on the analysis of more than 400,000 patents intentionally drawn from different areas of technology, the matrix helps to identify which of the 40 inventive principles are most relevant to solve problems represented as contradictions: a technical parameter to be improved vs. another parameter of the system that gets worse when implementing an improvement.
The contradiction has to be eliminated – without compromise – to obtain the inventive solution. Eliminating contradictions is the driving force of technological progress. Altshuller's matrix allows the principles for technical contradiction elimination to be used in a systematic way. The matrix was designed on the basis of 39 generalized parameters with which any specific parameter may be associated. The same lists of parameters are placed along vertical and horizontal axes of the matrix. The point of intersection of two generalized parameters indicates which inventive principle(s) is(are) to be used in each situation.
The Principles for Physical Conflict Elimination indicate how to change a physical structure of a system to eliminate physical contradictions (conflicts). There are 11 principles for Physical Conflict Elimination presented in TRIZ.
Although this technique can be used independently, formulation of a correct physical conflict is a non-trivial task. For this reason, the use of ARIZ to formulate physical conflicts is recommended. The aim of using ARIZ is to formulate and eliminate physical conflicts in the most ideal way.
Any technical system (product, machinery, technology) or its part can be modeled as a number of substance components interacting with each other via fields. Unlike physics, TRIZ introduces six types of fields: mechanical, acoustic, thermal, chemical, electric, magnetic and electromagnetic. Abstract physical modeling of the system's part that causes a problem helps to identify and classify a specific interaction that does not meet the required specifications.
The unsatisfactory interaction may be one of four types: 1) insufficient or poorly-controllable to obtain the desired result, 2) excessive and produces more action than required, 3) harmful, when the interaction is necessary to obtain a positive effect but results in a side negative effect or 4) missing – an interaction is necessary in the system but we do not know how to introduce it. Substance-Field Modeling and Analysis are used for problem modeling and further solving with 76 Inventive Standards.
If a system is modeled in terms of physical components and interactions via Substance-Field Modeling and a problem is represented as an unsatisfactory interaction, TRIZ recommends using special rules that contain abstract patterns indicating how the physical model has to be modified by: a) replacing the existing components with other components, b) introducing new components and c) modifying the existing components or d) changing a system structure.
The term "inventive standard" means that there is a typical, or "standard," pattern of solving those groups of problems that result in identical substance-field models. There are 76 inventive standards available. Although inventive standards are more specific than 40 inventive principles, their application requires more learning and practice.
One of the most powerful and complex analytical TRIZ techniques help solve those problems that can not be solved with the use of other TRIZ techniques. TRIZ techniques operate by the direct modeling of a problem and finding a relevant solution pattern or a principle from the TRIZ databases, but it is not always possible to formulate the problem directly. ARIZ helps extract a core problem through comprehensive analysis of the problem conditions and fighting mental inertia.
ARIZ consists of a number of operators specifying how to perform the steps of analysis. Learning ARIZ can not be done within a short time. Being more of an analytical tool rather than the tool for synthesis, ARIZ requires a problem solver to restructure and reorganize the thinking process that might be time-consuming, but necessary.
A technique that helps to make existing systems and products more ideal by eliminating components without impairing overall system's performance, functionality and quality. Usually performed after a system is represented as a function model with the help of Function Analysis.
A technique that develops new products on the basis of combining features of two competitive products. Usually competitive products are featured by different sets of advantages and disadvantages. The technique helps to design a new product that inherits advantages of the competitive products while disadvantages are eliminated.
Direct merging of features might be difficult due to a number of contradictions arising when attempting to develop the product. For this reason, the TRIZ techniques are recommended for use after the contradictions are identified.
Resulted from large-scale studies of hundreds of thousands of patents to determine which technical function is delivered by which physical effect (principle, phenomenon). Specific technical functions and effects then were generalized, categorized and presented in the catalog.
In many cases, scientific knowledge is not enough to find a required solution, especially in cases that require a new solution principle outside of the area of knowledge. The TRIZ catalogs of effects helps to bridge the gap between physics and technology by mapping technical functions to physical effects, principles and phenomena. Similar catalogs are available for chemistry and geometry.
Complementary technique, used primarily in combination with ARIZ. The technique helps to represent physical interactions within a system in terms of "controllable dwarfs," which can be associated with system parts, molecules, elementary particles, etc. The technique is directly aimed at tackling the mental inertia and better understanding the problem.
A technique for solving the most difficult problems that can not be directly solved by other TRIZ techniques. Enables designing a final desired solution from a number of "partial" intermediary solutions. Was developed as a part of OTSM-TRIZ, TRIZ development by Genrikh Altshuller and Nikolai Khomenko, where OTSM is a Russian abbreviation for the "General Theory of Advanced Thinking."
Enables mapping of any technical or business system to a radar plot in which spokes represent TRIZ lines of systems evolution, thus visualizing current state-of-the-art of a system with respect to its evolution from TRIZ perspective.
Although these techniques were not developed as a part of TRIZ, they have been used together with TRIZ to help with making decisions related to selection and evaluation of problems and generated ideas. The techniques include Comparative Ranking and Multi-Criteria Decision Matrix.
Helps to analyze a system against potential failures that might emerge in the system during its operation and exploitation.
A number of techniques aimed at the improving personal creative imagination skills and foster generation of "out-of-the- box" ideas. For example, replacement of specific terms that describe a problem with abstract terms helps to broaden the search space of possible solutions. Among the techniques are Focal Objects, Creativity Principles, 4-Stories Modeling, Fantogramma, etc. The most popular technique is "Size-Time-Cost Operator," which suggests imagining what would happen with an object and its environment if we increase or decrease values of parameters many times.
Today Creative Imagination Development Techniques are used in both adult and children education. In Russia, special programs were developed for teaching creativity to kids starting at age 3.
A theory developed by Altshuller based on his extensive studies of more than 1,000 biographies of creative people – inventors, writers, artists, scientists. Introduces generic patterns that indicate how these people were able to resolve social contradictions to achieve their goals.
A number of original TRIZ and additional techniques that were adapted and developed for business and management innovation to improve and create new business products, processes and services.
Valeri Souchkov has been involved with TRIZ and systematic innovation since 1988. During that time his main activities have been training and assisting customers worldwide, among which a number of the world’s largest companies, as well as the development of new TRIZ tools. In 2000, he initiated and co-founded the European TRIZ Association ETRIA and since 2003 has headed ICG Training and Consulting, a company in the Netherlands which trains and assists commercial and government organizations in both technology and business innovation. Mr. Souchkov is also an invited lecturer of the University of Twente in TRIZ and systematic innovation. Contact Valeri Souchkov at valeri (at) xtriz.com.