Review by Ellen Domb,
Solving Problems with TRIZ: An Exercise Handbook by Vladis Kosse, Ph.D., is published by Ideation International Inc., and can be ordered through the Products and Services section of The TRIZ Journal ($50, paperback.) This book is a welcome addition to the TRIZ literature in English and offers teachers of TRIZ over 150 problems with solutions to use in teaching TRIZ, and offers students of TRIZ the opportunity to challenge themselves with these problems and answers. Professors and other educators will find this book extremely beneficial in the preparation of course syllabi for TRIZ curricula. The problems are ideal for demonstrating diverse applications of the theory.
At the same time, Solving Problems with TRIZ is a very frustrating book, because it is easy to see how it could have been better. Problems are labeled as CM (Contradiction Matrix), ARIZ, SLP (Smart Little People), etc., to tell the reader what family of solutions will be used. But, the ARIZ is the simplified, 5-step version embedded in Ideations Workbench software, and the problems that are solved using the Contradiction Matrix and the 40 principles actually tell the reader which buttons to "click" in the Workbench. These problems and solutions can of course be worked using paper versions of the matrix and the 40 principles, but that is not noted in the book.
The problems are presented in chapters with others of similar topics (mechanical engineering, agriculture, civil engineering and construction, military problems, etc.) with varying levels of difficulty. Typically the problem presentation is quite short. Readers who think they do not know enough to solve the problem should not be discouragedfrequently more detail is presented in the solution. Check the solution for more detail (without reading the actual solution!) before deciding not to try a problem.
The explanations of the solutions vary from excellent (most of the ARIZ examples) to frustrating. In the excellent problems, the physical situation is explained clearly, the analysis of the problem, the ideal final result, and the physical contradiction are laid out in logical order, and the derivation of the solution by application of the separation principles is easy to understand. In the frustrating problems, either the physical situation is not clear or is wrong (for example, the solution to the problem of starting a diesel engine without a battery ignores the glow-plug) and the logic of the solution is difficult to follow. In many of the contradiction matrix problems, it is not clear at all how Dr. Kosse chose the features of the technical contradiction. The explanations of the derivation of the solutions to technical contradictions from the inventive principles, in contrast, are very good. They are logical, easy to understand, and written in a clear and rather entertaining style.
Dr. Kosse is a professor of Mechanical, Manufacturing and Medical Engineering at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia. He first learned TRIZ in the former USSR, and has been practicing TRIZ as a consultant and professor for over 20 years, and the problems in the book reflect the wide range of his interests.
Solving Problems with TRIZ: An Exercise Handbook should be of interest to many students and teachers of TRIZ, if they are willing to pick and choose among the problems to find the ones that will help them learn new approaches and practice those that they have learned.