Weve watched TRIZ - something old in the former USSR - become something new in most countries of the western world - primarily in western Europe and the United States. Although the use of TRIZ by American companies is still relatively in its infancy, TRIZ itself has a long history, and the rate of improvement and discovery that it has enjoyed during its pre-western years has slowed down for several reasons. If the concept of S-curves is to be believed, we can predict that (1) TRIZ is near the top of its S-Curve (relating to its effectiveness in problem-solving), and that (2) some other approach or methodology may be waiting in the wings to ultimately replace it. Before this occurs, however, there are some facts, and some questions, to be answered concerning the employment of TRIZ in the west.
Fact: Without a doubt, some western commercial companies and other organizations have already significantly benefited from using TRIZ to solve difficult problems and create new designs.
Fact: There is no question that TRIZ works, and works well.
Question: Will enough commercial companies and other organizations become aware of the powerful capabilities of TRIZ, seeking to implement TRIZ for their professionals, and thereby pushing TRIZ "over the hump" of resistance that it ultimately needs to conquer, in order to be adopted on a large scale?
Fact: Some few commercial and other organizations have been disenchanted with TRIZ for only a few reasons: poor training; lack of customer consciousness on the part of TRIZ offerors; aggressive claims made by offerors without delivering; etc.
Question: Will a nucleus of good TRIZ training be developed in sufficient mass, to the point that the power of TRIZ will spread by word of mouth, alone? Will broad-based professional societies and industry forums recognize the value of TRIZ?
Fact: There are currently several offerors of TRIZ software selling their wares, not one of which has yet gotten over the business hump where the software has become a "household" name, desired by those technical professionals who solve problems and design next-generation technical systems.
Fact: When software first appeared, some "classical" TRIZ practitioners did not even want to discuss software. Some are using it, but privately saying that software is not needed. And others swear by it.
Question: Is there really a market for TRIZ software, and is that market appreciable in size, or will it be a narrow specialty market?
These and other "facts" and "questions" have been, and continue to be intriguing to observers of the TRIZ scene. TRIZ is different from most other technical tools and approaches. It was not "born" in the west. It was born in the former USSR, the brainchild of one brilliant mind (Altshuller) and then later, the brilliant minds of several TRIZ disciples and other TRIZniks.
It is nearly ten years since TRIZ effectively came to the United States. Only a few American companies have adopted it with open arms, to the point where they look at it as a "secret weapon" in the global competitive race. But even these companies have not yet fully experienced the depths and breadth of the power of TRIZ. It will be interesting to watch what happens. We invite readers to send in their observations and opinions to our "Letters" column.