Book Reviews and Commentary by Ellen Domb
In the 7 months since we started the TRIZ Journal, the single most frequently asked question from new readers has been "What can I read in English to help me learn more?" and until now, my response has been limited to referring them to the collection of papers by co-editor James Kowalick and the research report from GOAL/QPC co-authored by Karen Tate, Bob King, and Ellen Domb (see Products and Services. ) Since the editors of this journal are authors of these publications, it looked a bit self-serving!
I'm delighted to report on 2 new books, both available now, that will help introduce the English-speaking world to the concepts of TRIZ. They are:
Victor Fey and Eugene Rivin: The Science of Innovation: A Managerial Overview of the TRIZ Methodology. $27. plus shipping from The TRIZ Group, 30120 Northgate Lane, Southfield, MI 48076 USA 810-433-3075. TRIZGR@aol.com
John Terninko, Alla Zusman, and Boris Zlotin: Step-by-step TRIZ: Creative Solutions to Innovative Problems. $20 plus shipping.. Responsible Management, 62 Case Road, Nottingham, NH 03290 USA (603) 659-5186. firstname.lastname@example.org
These 2 books have different purposes and are written from different points of view. This review will try to help the reader pick the best book for the readers' purposes, but my personal recommendation to a new TRIZ student would be to read both of these along with the earlier publications, then to attend an introductory TRIZ class, then to read the translation of G. Altshuller's book Creativity as an Exact Science. Lev Shulyak's translation of Altshuller's And Suddenly the Inventor Appeared is easy to read, and will introduce the reader to many of the classical teaching problems of TRIZ, but does not deal with the overall theory of TRIZ. It is a good supplement to any of the other books. (See Products and Services.)
Victor Fey and Eugene Rivin's The Science of Innovation: A Managerial Overview of the TRIZ Methodology is the first of a series of eight planned books on TRIZ, under the title The Technology of Innovative Engineering Series. This short overview (82 pages) stands on its own as an introduction to TRIZ. It is not intended to teach the reader how to practice the tools and techniques of TRIZ, but to introduce those concepts in enough detail that the reader will know when to go to which concept for help with a particular problem or situation. The book is also motivational--the examples are very clear, and demonstrate why and how the TRIZ method is different from other "creativity" methods, to motivate readers to pursue further study of TRIZ.
The book is organized to be read straight through. The introduction and first chapter are an executive overview of the book, explaining the structure of TRIZ and its basic concepts. But even in this overview, they give very practical guidelines on how to apply the TRIZ concepts. Fey and Rivin's explanation of how to define mini-and maxi-problems is the clearest I have seen; they take it from being a rather advanced concept in ARIZ to being an easy-to-use way of setting the constraints on a practical problem. This may be especially useful for members of product improvement teams who need to make quick decisions on whether they will modify an existing product or create an entirely new one.
Subsequent chapters address Su-field analysis, standard solutions, laws of technological system evolution, ARIZ, and the knowledge base of scientific effects. Appendices have detailed examples of application of four of the 40 principles innovation, and excerpts from the scientific effects database.
The explanation of the Su-field method is typical. It is very brief, but clear, and achieves its apparent objective: the reader will understand when Su-field modeling will enhance the understanding of a problem, and will then (presumably) go to the forthcoming book on the subject, or to a seminar to lean how to use the method.
The illustrations and examples deserve separate comment. They are well-chosen to enhance the explanations of the TRIZ concepts. The illustrations have been simplified considerably from those used in training classes, and make a considerable contribution to the clarity of the examples and to the book overall.
These excellent examples are also the book's one weakness, which could be remedied in future editions. Virtually all the examples are mechanical, and could lead the TRIZ beginner to conclude that TRIZ is a system for innovative solutions to mechanical problems. Adding a few "high technology" electrical, electronic, or telecommunications examples, or some bio-technology or medical examples would expand the audience, and would avoid creating the wrong impression with readers who are new to TRIZ.
Victor Fey, who worked with Altshuller for many years, and Eugene Rivin, who is a professor or mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, both have extensive consulting and training experience and have drawn on a mix of classical TRIZ examples and their own applied experience to create this work.
Congratulations to them on a book that will help spread the knowledge of TRIZ throughout the English-speaking engineering community!
John Terninko, Alla Zusman, and Boris Zlotin: Step-by-step TRIZ: Creative Solutions to Innovative Problems is a textbook that follows the conceptual framework of Terninko's successful Step-by-step QFD. It can be read by an individual as an introduction to TRIZ or used as a class reference and workbook in a workshop-style seminar. I have used Step-by-step QFD in my classes for the last year, and I'm glad that he took the best features of the progressive workbook format for this book.
John Terninko is one of the founders of the Quality Function Deployment Institute, and has been teaching QFD and the Taguchi method of Robust Design world-wide for the last two decades. He has now been studying TRIZ with Alla Zusaman and Boris Zlotin (long-time colleagues of Altshuller's, and co-authors of several of Altshuller's books), and has been teaching and consulting in TRIZ for the last 2 years. They have taken on the challenge of integrating the methods of classical TRIZ with the new TRIZ tools developed by Zlotin and Zusman, and helping the product improvement/product development world understand how to merge the TRIZ tools with QFD and Robust Design.
This review of Step-by-step TRIZ is based on an advance draft which has been used for training, but the final version will be available by the time this review appears in print. This is a 212 page combination of education, training, history, philosophy, and reference material that any TRIZ student or TRIZ practitioner will want to have.
The history section helps the non-participant understand how and when Altshuller and his colleagues made many of their conceptual and analytic breakthroughs. The "legends" repeated in many of the training classes have been organized here into a short, coherent history of the massive work.
The classical tools of TRIZ (defined as those developed before 1985) are presented well, and the 40 principles and the contradiction matrix are reproduced in an appendix. The examples throughout the book combine the traditional (the metal beads wearing out the elbow of the pipe, the acid etching the container rather than the samples that were to be tested) with a unique example: Terninko presents his own case, complete with x-rays and photographs, of the problem of removing a screw that was inserted in his leg to help a bone heal, and now cannot be removed because the screw driver slot was destroyed and the bone grew over the screw. He also uses some gentle humor in showing how technically feasible solutions (dissolve the bone around the screw, explode the screw, etc.) may not be practical, because either he or his doctors don't want to take the risk of pioneering the new solution! He then guides the reader through the exercises in using each of the TRIZ concepts. When the book is used as a class textbook, these exercises become the workshop part of the class.
The Innovative Situation Questionnaire, the Problem Formulator, and Anticipatory Failure Analysis are three of the TRIZ tools developed by Zlotin and Zusman. Until now they have only been available at seminars and through the Ideation software. The authors present them in an easy-to-use style, illustrating the first two with the case of improving bicycle performance (product development) and the case of removing the screw from Terninko's leg (problem solving). The methods can be used by themselves, to define the problem to be solved, or they can be used in conjunction with ARIZ on very complex problems.
The Anticipatory Failure Analysis tool (originally called "subornation") could be a powerful partner with FMEA (failure modes and effects analysis) since it uses the TRIZ principle of "reverse"-find out what could cause the problem, the examine the problem situation to see if any of those circumstances could be there, then remove the possibility. The case study of contamination of metal tubes for use in aircraft longerons has been published in conference proceedings, but this is the first time it is available to the general TRIZ audience.
No matter which version of TRIZ the reader has studied, these will be valuable tools for problem analysis.
Reviewers have the privilege of recognizing the author's hard work, and then suggesting more. The chapter on Su-field analysis refers several times to the 76 standard solutions, but only gives examples of a few of them. An appendix or a table with all of them would be very helpful. Step-by-step-TRIZ has a very good section on the meaning of the symbols of Su-field analysis, and could serve as a reference for people who are reading technical papers that use Su-field diagrams.
One area for improvement is the section on patterns of design evolution. It takes the reader through one of the eight patterns, and discusses, but does not demonstrate, hybrid patterns of evolution. On the other hand, the organization of principles introduced in earlier chapters so that the reader can see how they are used to move a design toward an ideal final result, is very helpful-beginners will see the underlying structure of TRIZ very clearly.
Some of the diagrams that illustrate the various case studies are done in fairly coarse gray tones, as 3-dimensional representations of complex systems. and many of them are unlabeled, other that with a general description of the problem. Simplifying and labeling the diagrams would make the examples more accessible to people who are not familiar with the particular machine or system being used in the example.
John Terninko, Alla Zusman, and Boris Zlotin's Step-by-step TRIZ combines classical TRIZ with new tools in a format that makes it possible for people to learn one skill at a time, then combine that skill with the next, and build a product development and problem solving family of skills. This will be an extremely valuable resource for those who ask "what can I read in English?"