ARIZ : The Algorithm for Inventive Problem Solving

An Americanized Learning Framework

By Janice Marconi, Marconi Works, International
5 Lambert’s Lane, Stonington, CT 06378
Ph: 860-535-9477 Fx: 860-535-8448 marconi@pcnet.com

ARIZ is an acronym for the Russian phrase "Algorithm for Inventive Problem Solving," ARIZ is a logical structured process that incrementally evolves a complex problem to a point where it is simple to solve. ARIZ, therefore, is best used for complex problems.

There are several versions of ARIZ as it has been developed throughout the years. An Americanized version of ARIZ, which includes the important features of the 1977, 1985 and 1991 versions is presented here.

What is Unique About This Version?

Although the "Classic" nine parts of ARIZ are kept as part of the framework, there are new learning features in this version:

• a new top level flowchart for ARIZ is provided. This is done in a data flow diagram format, with the inclusion of three new macro steps and clearly shown feedback loops not previously outlined. (Attachment 1)
• Knowledge Maps for each of the major steps (Attachments 2 – 10)
• Introductory "Purpose" headers for each part
• Helpful "Notes" with insights to accelerate the ARIZ learning curve

Why ARIZ?

Complex problems cannot be solved in just two steps. For those problems which are so complex, that they cannot be solved with any other tools, TRIZ includes the algorithm ARIZ to follow which will facilitate the problem-solving process.

ARIZ is not an equation, but rather a multi-step process asking you a series of questions that integrates different pieces of TRIZ. ARIZ is a very "solution neutral" process: i.e., it takes preconceived solutions out of the problem statement. It starts you at a position that assumes the nature of your problem is unknown. ARIZ reacquaints you with your problem by allowing you to see your problem with a fresh pair of eyes.

ARIZ:

• is a process of problem reformulations
• is logical and disciplined
• continually reinterprets the problem
• is the main TRIZ method for solving conflicts

It utilizes:

• Ideality for an understanding of the Ideal Solution to the problem
• Contradictions, by working first with the technical contradiction, then the physical contradiction
• Resources of the system
• Scientific effects
• S-field modeling and Standard Solutions
• the 40 Principles

It is important to note that ARIZ is more than 50% problem reformulation! It is only through this guided reformulation that complex problems can be solved.

What is the Framework for ARIZ?

As mentioned before, there are the nine "Classic" high level steps in ARIZ. The number of sub-steps vary from version to version of ARIZ..

The three new macro level processes with their respective nine "Classic" parts are:

I. Restructuring of the Original Problem

1.0 Analyze the System

2.0 Analyze the Resources

3.0 Define the Ideal Final Result and Formulate the Physical Contradiction

II. Removing the Physical Contradiction

4.0 Separate the Physical Contradiction

5.0 Apply the Knowledge Base: Effects, Standards, and Principles

6.0 Change the "Mini-Problem"

III. Analyzing the Solution

7.0 Review the Solution and Analyze the Removal of the Physical Contradiction

8.0 Develop Maximum Usage of the Solution

9.0 Review All the Stages in ARIZ in "Real Time" Application

ARIZ is a series of steps and questions that guide you through your problem. Since ARIZ is highly iterative, the steps and questions do not necessarily occur in a linear fashion, although Parts 1.0 through 4.0 are sequential. The "Macro Flow Chart for ARIZ" shows an integration into a well-tuned Plan-Do-Check-Apply cycle (Attachment 1).

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I. Restructuring of the Original Problem (Attachments 2 – 4)

The first three steps of ARIZ both analyze and transform the problem. We begin with simple schematics that physically represent the initial system as we know it. The emphasis on "basic function" moves us to the "mini-problem", a formulation and intensification of two conflicts, and keener insights as to the actual resources of the system. The development of the Ideal Final Result and the Physical Contradiction positions us to come up with concepts of solution for the second macro step "Removing the Physical Contradiction". Because the reformulations and unique analysis prepares us for concept solution, this macro step can be thought of as the "Plan" in the PDCA cycle.

Purpose of Part 1 "Analyze the System": Part 1 transitions you from your original problem statement to a more "inventive" modification of your problem through the use of the "mini-problem" and the formation of the "technical contradictions." Simple schematics of the system conflict help build a problem of the model in terms of the conflict and basic function.

 1.0 Analyze the System Notes 1.1 Perform an initial analysis by identifying: the original problem as you know it the "basic function" of the system the system and its components (subsystems) any supersystems the environment Useful functions of the system Harmful/excessive/insufficient functions of the system It’s important to capture the "basic function" of the system early in our analysis, since later problem restatements rely on the "basic function", the main purpose of the system, as a basis for decisions. By defining both the "basic function" of the system and the physical systems, themselves, we’ve begun describing the Functional Domain and the Physical Domain. Although Functional Domain and Physical Domain are not ARIZ terms, this distinction shows the strategy of the ARIZ framework. Draw a simple schematic and label the main parts A simple drawing is all that is initially needed for establishing the Physical Domain. 1.2 Describe the "mini-problem".This directs our efforts towards our first step in approaching Ideality since "everything in the system remains the same, and the required function is realized with minimal changes Note: In Russian translations of ARIZ, "mini" means "minimal" because ARIZ want you to describe your original problem in terms that ensure "minimal changes to the system." 1.3 State the System Conflict in two ways. You will have two versions of a technical contradiction stated in opposite ways: Conflict 1: by trying to eliminate/decrease the harmful action, the useful action is lessened Conflict 2: by trying to improve the useful action, the harmful action is increased Note: You may ask, "Why form two contradictions?" We form two contradictions at this time because we do not know, until later, which contradiction is best suited for the basic function of the problem. The two forms of the technical contradiction are sometimes referred to as: EC-1 and EC-2 (Engineering Contradiction 1 and 2) TC-1 and TC-2 (Technical Contradiction 1 and 2) Both of the above terms are synonymous 1.4 Intensify the Conflict: Intensified Conflict 1: the harmful action is completely eliminated, but the useful action is not performed at all. Intensified Conflict 2: the useful action is completely performed, but the harmful action is the worst it can be. Note: Why do we intensify the conflict? After all, don’t we have enough work, already? "Intensifying the conflict" accomplishes two things: It gives the problem solver a better quality of solution The solution, itself, can be applied to more versions of the problem, since the problem is solved more completely in the extremes. 1.5 Select which intensified conflict version is best for the basic function.Again, we go back to the "basic function" for making our decision. Waiting until we’ve intensified the conflict, before deciding which form of the conflict to chose, ensures a higher degree of Ideality for solving the problem in terms of its basic function. Note: Although one of the two conflicts is selected (Conflict 1 or Conflict 2), save both versions of the conflict. We may need to revisit the intensified conflict version that we did not initially chose. 1.6 Draw the model of the intensified conflict Note: This drawing will most likely be far simpler than you original models or drawings of the conflict.

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Purpose of Part 2 "Analyze the Resources": Part 2 looks at where the selected conflict is taking place (Operating Zone), the periods of time when the conflict is happening (Operating Time) and the objects and energy of the system (substances and fields). By analyzing the resources (space, time, substances and fields), the problem gets ready for dealing with the upcoming Physical Contradiction and how it can later use the resources of the system, components, supersystem and the environment.

2.0 Analyze the Resources

Notes

2.1 Describe the Operation Zone (space).

Diagram in terms of

• Zone 1 is the zone of the useful action. Specify what is in Zone 1. What component or subsystem is in the picture? Draw a simple picture that includes these items in Zone 1.
• Zone 2 is the zone of the harmful action. Specify what is in Zone 2. Again, what’s in Zone 2? Draw a simple picture that includes the items in Zone 2.
Note: Zone 1 and Zone 2 may be completely separate or overlapping. Make sure your simple picture shows the overlap.

2.2

Describe the Operating Time (time).

Diagram in terms of

• Period 1 is the time of one of the conflicting requirement.
• Period 2 is the time of the other one of the conflicting requirement.

Note: Consider "before", "during" (Period 1 and Period 2), and "after" time periods. These are sometimes referred to as T1, T2, and T3, respectively.

Period1/Period2

 T1-Before T2 - During T3-After <---------> <---------> <--------->
2.3 List the internal and external resource of the system and its environment. This includes both Substances and Fields connected with the list below:

• Internal

the tool

the object of the harmful action

the object of the useful action

other system objects

• External

the Environment

the Supersystem

by-products

waste products

Note: In your initial drawing/schematic of your problem, you probably did not include all the resources. This step allows for a "sanity check" to "reacquaint" yourself with the problem, in case some resource of the system and its environment were overlooked.

"Time" and "Space" are also resources. These have been identified within the "Operating Time" and the "Operating Zone", already. It is sometimes helpful to beginner practitioners of ARIZ to list these resources, again.

To summarize, there are:

• Substance resources (internal and external)
• Field resources (internal and external)
• Time resources
• Space resources

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Purpose of Part 3: "Define the Ideal Final Result and Formulate the Physical Contradiction": Part 3 positions the problem to be solved at its highest level by stating the conflict in terms of conflicting requirements of the same parameter. This is the Physical Contradiction. Also, determined in Part 3 is the Ideal Final Result. This directs and narrows the problem domain so that resources are precisely used and the whole system is targeted.

 3.0 Define the Ideal Final Result and Formulate the Physical Contradiction Notes 3.1 State the initial Ideal Final Result (IFR-1).The initial Ideal Final Result is stated in terms of: "The ‘Resource’ will eliminate the …(negative effect ) within the Operating Zone during the Operating Time without complicating the system while performing the …(positive effect )." In this "template" for stating the IFR-1, the following items should be filled in: the "Resource" (this resource is unknown, at this time. Keep this as a placeholder for the next step) the negative effect (as identified in the conflict) the positive effect (as identified in the conflict) 3.2 Reinforce the IFR by trying out different statements of the IFR. Substitute any one of the following for the "Resource": the tool the object(s) the system the environment the supersystem Note: You may be tempted to introduce "new stuff" into the system. Don’t! Otherwise, you’ll be missing the importance of using ARIZ. By using the internal and external resources specified in Part 2, you can simultaneously see changes in the subsystem, supersystem, and system as you try out different substitutions for the "Resource" for the IFR-1. 3.3 Define the Physical Contradiction on the Macro Level. The Physical Contradiction must take place during the Operating Time and within the Operating Zone. Note: You will have TWO Physical Contradictions on a macro level. One will be for Conflict 1 and one will be for Conflict 2.The macro level is normally at an upper level system/component or field level. 3.4 Define the Physical Contradiction on a Micro Level.The Physical Contradiction must take place during the Operating Time and within the Operating Zone, having both opposing physical conditions/actions stated in terms of particle conditions/action. Sometimes, it is not possible to manipulate the problem on a Macro Level. The "heuristic power" that comes through when looking at the problem at a Micro Level is extremely effective for overcoming the Physical Contradiction. We call it "micro" because the resource will be described in terms of "particles". It really doesn’t matter what we call them (atoms, molecules, particles, etc). Note: It may be that your problem does not have a Micro Level Physical Contradiction. If this is the case, the problem must be solved on a Macro LevelAgain, you will be have TWO versions of the Physical Contradiction on a micro level. Something changes when we make the components infinitely small. Two things happen: We see interactions that were previously missed. "Molecule by molecule" may interact differently than "Component by component". "Same old way" thinking or psychological inertia is further eliminated because there is no remnant of jargon or vocabulary that attaches us to familiar solutions. 3.5 Refine the Ideal Final Result (IFR-2).Based upon either the Macro Level Physical Contradiction or the Micro Level Physical Contradiction, the IFR-2 can be stated as: During the Operating Time, the Resource,… (specify either tool, object(s), product, system, environment, supersystem) must provide on its own the …(specify the physical state or action of the particles) and has to provide …(specify the opposite physical state or action of the particles). Note: Formulate several version of the IFR-2. Minimally, you could have six different versions of the IFR-2 to "play" with. 3.6 Apply S-field analysis and Standard Solutions.It is usually at the end of Part 3.0 that a solution is found because the refined IFR-2 makes the problem and its solution very clear. You can then continue to Part 7.0. If a solution is not found after Part 3.0, then continue to Part 4.0. Note: We recommend, that even with a good concept of solution in hand at the end of Part 3.0, continue through Part 4.0. You’ll have an even better idea of what you have in your solution.Notice that "apply S-field analysis and Standard Solutions" occurs several times throughout ARIZ. The diagramming, analysis, and models are continually used in reformulating the problem and evolving a concept of solution.

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II. Removing the Physical Contradiction (Attachments 5-7)

The next three steps are three opportunities to arrive at concepts of solution for the problem. The removal of the Physical Contradiction elegantly lends itself to an uncompromised solution. However, if we still cannot remove the Physical Contradiction after Part 4.0 "Separate the Physical Contradiction", then we must move into Part 5.0 "Apply the Knowledge Base of Effects, Standards, and Principles". Still again, if we cannot remove the Physical Contradiction after Part 5.0, perhaps we need to proceed to Part 6.0 "Change the ‘Mini-Problem’". Because we are actively coming to solution through the repeated efforts to remove the Physical Contradiction, this macro step becomes the "Do" in a PDCA cycle.

Purpose of Part 4: "Separate the Physical Contradiction": Part 4 separates the physical contradiction in order to eliminate it. The technique of "Smart Little People" enables a different view on utilizing resources in order to minimize changes in the system and its respective cost. If a solution is found at this time, go to Parts 7 "Review the Solution and Analyze the Removal of the Physical Contradiction." If no solution is evident, continue with Part 5 .

 4.0 Separate the Physical Contradiction Notes 4.1 Apply the Four Principles for Overcoming Physical Contradictions Separate the opposite physical states in Time. Separate the opposite physical states in Space. Separate the opposite physical states between the system and its components. Have both opposite physical states coexist in the same substance. Note: Refer back to Part 2.0 for the Operating Time and Operating Zone. 4.2 Apply S-field analysis and Standard Solutions Note: Actually, you have been performing a type of "guided" S-field analysis throughout ARIZ. Specifically, you would apply actual Standard solution models at this time. It is beyond the scope of this writing to list and describe the Standard solutions. Refer to the Bibliography for detailed information on S-field analysis and Standard Solutions. 4.3 Use the technique of "Smart Little People" to your problem.Think of the "particles" that you used at the Micro Level as being dynamic and able to take action. If you thought of yourself as a piece of the problem (a common approach in other methods), you might be restricting the solutions (would you like to be pulled apart, or heated to a high temperature?). But if you had infinite numbers of "Smart Little People" who could "be the particles" and react to opposite physical states and actions (and never be upset!) you would have "smart particles" who could see, understand and be capable of performing the necessary actions. In essence, "Smart Little People" is a technique that uses the power of "empathy" at a microlevel with none of its shortcomings. Note: Although this is a "Synectics-like" approach, it is a profoundly technical method of applying analogy to scientific problems. Examples of the application of "dynamic particles" have been used by historical figures such as Maxwell and Bohr. 4.4 "Step back" from the IFR-2.Sometimes a little further prompting of the solution is necessary by : slightly deteriorating the system altering it somewhat disassembling it. Note: This is also referred to as "One Step Back".Although this "tinkering" with the problem seems like heresy, this forms a simple problem that may be easier to solve. Solving this simple problem quite often provides a solution for your initial problem.

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Purpose of Part 5: "Apply the Knowledge Base": Part 5 steadily pursues solutions by applying past solutions to similar problems and the rich base of principles, effects and standard solutions.

 5.0 Apply the Knowledge Base Notes 5.1 Apply previous solutions of successfully solved problems that are similar to the IFR-2 in Step 3.0 5.2 Apply Scientific EffectsApply the 40 Principles Refer to sources of Scientific Effects. 5.3 Apply the 40 Principles. Refer to sources of the 40 Principles. 5.4 Apply S-Field Analysis. 5.5 Apply Standard Solutions. If introduction of existing resources does not work, try introducing derived resources.

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Purpose of Part 6: "Change the "Base-line Version" of the problem: Sometimes, no matter how well intentioned the problem solver is, the reformulated problems and contradictions contain the limitations of psychological inertia. These limitations either seem logical in the beginning, or they are so much part of the problem solvers assumptions, that they go unnoticed. In any case, Part 6 offers several ways to revisit both the problem and the conflict.

 6.0 Change the Mini-Version of the Problem Notes 6.1 Revisit your conflict (Step 1 "Analyze the Conflict") Is it really one problem, or is it a combination of two or more problems? 6.2 Chose the "other" version of the conflict. If you originally chose Conflict 1 to solve, go back to Part 1 and chose Conflict 2 (or vice-versa) 6.3 Reformulate another conflict after the "mini-problem" 6.4 If your problem is still "unsolved", reformulate the "mini-problem" 6.5 If there still is no solution, restate the problem at the level of the supersystem

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III. Analyzing the Solution (Attachments 8-10)

In Part 7.0 "Review the Solution and Analyze the Removal of the Physical Contradiction", we are simply asking ourselves "Did we really solve the problem? Did we actually remove the Physical Contradiction?" This becomes the "Check" in the PDCA cycle, while Part 8.0 "Develop Maximum Usage of the Solution" and Part 9.0 " Review All the Stage in ARIZ in "Real Time" Application" are the "Apply" of the key learnings in the specific ARIZ process.

Purpose of Part 7: "Review the Solution and Analyze the Removal of the Physical Contradiction. Part 7 looks to see whether the physical contradiction has been removed almost ideally. That is, no new additional extra substances or fields have been introduced. The solution itself is evaluated to see how it fits the requirements of the solution and of the system.

 7.0 Review the Solution and Analyze the Removal of the Physical Contradiction Notes 7.1 Review introduced substances and fields into the system. Have you solved the problem without any additional substances or fields that were not specified in resources from Part 2 ("Analyze the Resources")? Two possibilities are: Try "modified resources" (this could be the combination of two resources, or a different phase of a resource) Introduce a "self-regulating" substance (a substance that changes with the environment) 7.2 Review the obtained solution. Does your solution satisfy the IFR? Does your solution actually remove the Physical Contradiction? Can the solution be implemented in the real world? If you can’t use the solution for satisfying the entire problem, can you use the solution for part of the system or cycles of the system? Are there any other problems as a result of your solution?

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Purpose of Part 8: Develop Maximum Usage of the Solution. Sometimes a solution is much more than just a good solution for the system at hand. Part 8 asks questions that help leverage the knowledge gained from the newly created concept.

 8.0 Develop Maximum Usage of the Solution Notes 8.1 Specify what needs to be changed in the Supersystem for this solution. This is especially necessary if you are dealing with a "discontinuous" technology. 8.2 Can the changed system (changed, due to your solution) have new and different applications? 8.3 Can you solve other problems with this solution? Generalize the solution into a method Apply this new method to other problems State this method in an opposite way and apply it to other problems How will this method change if the system size moves towards zero or increases towards infinity?

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Purpose of Part 9: "Review all the Steps in ARIZ in "Real-Time" Application. Part 9 crystallizes the problem solvers "key learnings" in applying ARIZ. Essentially, this step and Part 8 becomes the "Apply" in Plan-Do-Check-Apply in ARIZ. Part 9 is a necessary step for both the novice and experienced practitioner of ARIZ.

 9.0 Review all the Steps ARIZ in "Real-Time" Application Notes 9.1 Review what your actual steps were in applying ARIZ.Write down any differences of the real sequences of your steps compared with the prescribed steps of ARIZ. This becomes an excellent way to capture key learnings. 9.2 Note how the solution is different from other scientific effects or standards solutions. Specify what makes it different and why. The additional step of documenting uniqueness of your solution makes the distinctions and "Ah-Ha’s" much clearer to others. 9.3 Add the solution to Your Knowledge Database. Add the solution to other Effects or examples of a particular Effect. Add to other Standard Solutions.

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Summary of ARIZ ARIZ is considered an advanced technique of TRIZ. It is NOT TRIZ, but is an inclusive piece of TRIZ. It requires precise definitions of all parts of the problem and iterative use of all the TRIZ problem solving methods as ARIZ moves you back and forth from the Functional Domain and the Physical Domain at the supersystem, the system, and the subsystem levels. This elegance of "guided" problem reformulation thoroughly and elegantly defines functional requirements and necessary physical parameters of solution concepts.

Although ARIZ is meant for complex problems, begin using ARIZ on more simple problems for practice application. Notice the quality of solution you arrive at with problem you thought you were very familiar with!

About the Author

Janice Marconi, President of Marconi Works, International, is an innovation specialist in company-wide innovation and creativity, both researching and helping organizations achieve their own flavor of innovation. She has been a researcher and practitioner of TRIZ, the Russian problem solving methodology for innovation, since 1994. She’s the co-developer of The Seven Creativity Tool Boxes, with Dr. Helmut Schlicksupp, formerly of the Frankfurt Battelle Institute. Her latest development, Moderated Knowledge Mapping™, creatively combines mindmapping, functional analysis and German Metaplanning/Moderation methods. Her clients include the Naval War college, Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, the Secretary of Defense, the Federal Quality Consulting Group, and Computing Devices International. She received her masters degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut.

Bibliography

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Altshuller, G.S. Creativity As An Exact Science: The Theory of the Solution of Inventive Problems. New York: Gordon and Breach, 1988.

Fey, Victor R. and Rivin, Eugene I. The Science of Innovation: A Managerial Overview of the TRIZ Methodology. Southfield, Michigan: The TRIZ Group, 1997.

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Tipnis, Vijay. Altshuller’s Algorithm (ARIZ) For Inventive Problem Solving. 1994. Course notes.