Study of Effective New Product Development Activities through Combination of Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems and VE

First presented at TRIZCON2001, The Altshuller Institute, March, 2001.

Senior Researcher,
Manabu Sawaguchi

1. Introduction

When a firm develops a new product, being needs-oriented is a quite important viewpoint. If, however, product development puts too much emphasis on an immediate sales increase only using tricky marketing tactics, there is a risk that the reliability of the product itself will be hurt or the sales will end after a one-time boom. (During the bubble economy in Japan, we saw many cases of this kind of product development.)

Thus this paper proposes a practical activity process aimed at product development, which suits the tide of technology evolution and can really impress customers, while utilizing the Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems.

Specifically the study in this paper tries to establish practical product development, which combines Product Development VE (called “0 Look VE” and “1st Look VE” in Japan) - aiming at highly valuable product development based on a function-oriented concept - and the Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems.

The proposed process has been applied as a case study at Company S, a Japanese housing manufacturer, and is introduced in this paper along with the implemented results of that study. But first of all I would like to verify if the proposed process itself is a method conforming to the paradigm of present society.

Therefore, this paper shows that the perspectives of the Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems and VE, which are the basis of this proposed process, conform to the direction of product development in the present society before explaining the details of the proposed process.

2. Direction of Present Society and Product Development

It is a matter of fact that engineers should develop high-quality (defect free) products, and it is not just the recent trend that development of products with a high level of customer satisfaction is expected. This phenomenon represents a paradigm shift from the conventional industrial society mainly led by corporations to the society with people priority. In other words, due to such social change, customers also have transformed from just consumers to people who put more emphasis on their life styles. Especially the dissemination of the Internet available in the middle of 1990s (so-called IT revolution) has drastically changed our way of life and increased the speed of this paradigm shift.

Under these circumstances, businesses recently seem to judge that they cannot accurately grasp the present clienteles (or markets) just by the keyword: improvement of customer satisfaction. So new words (keywords) for management (especially in the marketing field) symbolizing this sharp paradigm shift were born continuously. Chart 1 summarizes the new hot words with their definitions including “customer satisfaction.”

* Customer satisfaction

Satisfaction of customers obtained by fulfilling their needs. Promoting the differentiation from competitors through individualistic services to the customers.

Customer relationship management

Management method which integrates and controls information at every interface between customers and companies including complaints and comments not limited to records of purchase and use by customers. Efforts to improve long-term profitability by providing optimal services to the customers and increasing their retention rate.

Life time value

Index of long-term profit obtained by one customer. It is calculated by multiplying frequency of purchase in a life time to the one time purchase amount. The higher the value, the better the customer value.

One-to-one marketing

Marketing method for maintaining long-term relationships with certain customers by grasping their favors and demands in details.

Customer retention

Keeping consumers as customers for long time.

Demand chain management

Management method to promote the optimization of product development, production and distribution meeting the consumers’ needs by obtaining information from their purchasing behavior at the retail site (a retail-driven idea as opposed to SCM).

Customer delight improvement activities

Activities which improve awareness of all employees and aim at developing a structure to create product value providing excitement and joy to the customers.

Chart 1: New Words for Management (Especially Marketing) Symbolizing People-Priority Society

These new words seem to be born from the aspect of marketing activities as a means to realize customer satisfaction, but they re-draw the battle-lines of the conventional marketing thinking for the increase of sales and share. Considering how firms should incorporate customers into their side for the long-term and in stable condition will be a recent marketing trend.

Furthermore, some new words show the direction of product development activities aiming at customer satisfaction + a (excitement and joy of the customers), like customer delight improvement activities. This term is used recently by Toyota-related companies (including suppliers) in Japan to show in the word, “delight” that they express the importance of product development based on the viewpoint of customers.

On the other hand, however, if +a falls into activities converging into just extravagant design or addition of tricky function, such product development is a bubble type, and long-term incorporation of customers in a stable condition cannot be expected.

So product development activities suitable for the people-priority society - utilizing the Product Development VE aiming at improvement of product value and the Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems determining the product development suitable for the times - came up my mind as effective product development activities, which conform to the original intentions of these new words (especially the concept of customer satisfaction, and that of customer delight, an evolved concept of customer satisfaction).

The Product Development VE is well utilized mainly by Japanese manufacturers as an powerful tool for achieving customer satisfaction aimed at the realization of customer required functions while considering the economical balance. During the bubble economy period, however, they made mistakes such as overemphasizing of too wild designs (attractive functions) and addition of tricky functions (multifunctional). I think of combining the Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems in TRIZ and the Product Development VE as an effective measure to complement such weakness of VE and to suggest correct direction of product development.

The relations about this process is summarized in Chart 2.

Chart 2: Relations between Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems and
Product Development VE

3. Practical Process Aiming at Valuable Product Development

This section introduces actual product development activity process. Chart 3 shows this activity process divided by implementation steps.

Phase 1 Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems (Brief steps at DE)

Step 1

Collect information for the development theme.


Step 2

Sort out development history for the target system (past to present).


Step 3

Sort out development history for the target system (present to future).


Step 4

Map the Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems.


Step 5

Develop a concept for target system in the future - scenario writing.


Step 6

Evaluate each concept (scenario) for the target system.

Product Development VE

Phase 2 Product Planning VE (0 Look VE)

Step 7

Position developing new product.


Step 8

Grasp market size.


Step 9

Identify customer image.


Step 10

Sort out customer requirements.


Step 11

Determine product basic specification.


Step 12

Establish selling price and allowable cost.


Step 13

Draft product plan.


Phase3 Developing Design VE (1st Look VE)

Step 14

Define planned required functions.


Step 15

Sort out planned required functions.


Step 16

Establish the targeted cost for developing design.


Step 17

Conceptualize basic idea for developing design (utilization of TRIZ).


Step 18

Evaluate basic idea for developing design (rough evaluation).


Step 19

Concretize/Structure basic idea for developing design.


Step 20

Evaluate/Determine basic idea for developing design (utilization of TRIZ).


Step 21

Review/Draft developing design specification (basic idea chart).

Chart 3: Implementation Steps of Product Development Activities

As shows in this chart, the first half of the activity steps is based on the Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems (in reality in accordance with the basic stapes of Directed Evolution (DE) developed by Ideation International). The latter half corresponds to the Product Development VE.

The next section focuses on Phase 1: Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems (see DE steps developed by Ideation), which has a closest relationship with the theme of this paper, and the main steps (steps closely related to the theme of this paper) of Phase 3: Developing Design VE. (Although Phase 2 is important as an activity, it is only outlined here as not directly related to the theme of this paper.)

4. Phase 1: Utilization of Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems

The case study has been conducted at Company S, a Japanese housing manufacturer, under the following theme:

Panels, which are friendly to environment and humans, are to be used in water usage areas

The implementation steps proposed in this paper (see Chart 3) were applied to the above theme on a trial basis. From now on this paper introduces the application results mainly for the process.

4-1. Step 1: Collect information for the development theme.

In this step collect information related to the development theme from every angle. In this case information has been sorted out by utilizing (IPQ: Ideation Process Questionnaire) developed by Ideation. The IPQ always makes users think about the ideas of the Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems so that history of technology evolution, which can be overlooked by the conventional market research type analysis, can be considered.

1. Preconditions of the target system Panels, which are interior materials, friendly to environment and humans, to be used in water usage areas such as the bathroom and kitchen. 2. Information of the target system to be evolved in accordance with the social change 1) Target system name: Environment friendly panel 2) Main useful function: Not harmful to humans 3) Other useful functions of the system: Excel in waterproofing; clean appearance; soundproofing; prevention of hot and cold weather, etc. 4) History of the system Sort out the changes of panels used in the houses from past to future over time. Material viewpoint: Wood ® Tile ® Decorative laminated sheet (solvent paint) (waterproof) (workability) (durability) (dirtiness of joints) 5) Change to the system in requirements of the market (users) Of course aesthetic appearance is important, but a type emphasizing material friendly to humans is demanded. 3. Information for defects and risk elements of the technology/service related to the target system 1) Description of defect and risk element: The environment friendly type panel is weak at durability and heat resistance. 2) Reason why such defect and risk exist: The environment friendly type does not use solvent so it has permeability. 3) What is caused by such defect and risk: Surface breakaway 4. Previous attempts/ideas for the system improvement and development of new generation system 1) Attempts/ideas in the past to increase system’s useful functions Add the solvent to the degree not to influence on humans as a result. 2) Previous attempts/ideas related to the development of new system ................................ 3) Previous attempts/ideas to eliminate/reduce system defects and harmful elements Heat the product again at the plant before delivery to evaporate the solvent. 5. Information for the relevant systems 1) List of systems related to the target system including the environment of use Kitchen, bath, toilet, and washroom system 2) List of other systems performing the same function of the target system PVC steel plates, tiles, enameled panels, decorative melanin laminated sheets, cloths, plastic resin products, etc. 3) List of similar systems existing in the markets different from the target system Marbles at hotels, concrete walls at public bathes, glasses and external walls of saunas

Chart 4: List of Collected Information for the Target System (Partial)

4-2. Step 2: Sort out development history for the target system (past to present).

Sort out the changes of the target system as well as its subsystem or super-system (located at the higher position of the system) from past to present structurally. Sort out the history of technology evolution from the past to present utilizing Chart 5: Matrix for System Evolution of Panels. Specifically, a technology system, its subsystem and super-system, which seemed to be applicable to each cell of the matrix, were stated. The contents described in IPQ in Step 1, which could be utilized (e.g. contents of the second item for this step), were copied. Of course the description in each cell was not limited to one, so if there were several items, all of them were stated.

4-3. Step 3: Sort out development history for the target system (present to future).

With reference to the analysis result of the history from the past to present of the matrix prepared in Step 2, also systematically sort out the future. Specifically sort out the history of technology evolution from the present to the future utilizing Chart 5: Matrix for System Evolution of Panels, the same as Step 2.








Kitchen consisting of independent elements

System kitchen ¯ Open kitchen ¯ Kitchen with consideration for the aged

Automated kitchen


Face washing:



Washstand with hair washing function ¯ Washstand with consideration for the aged




Japanese traditional style bath ¯ Tile bath

Unit bath ¯ Unit with consideration for the aged ¯ Healthcare bath

Home sauna + Jacuzzi




Japanese-style toilet (vacuum truck emptying)

Japanese-style toilet (flushing) ¯ Western-style flushing toilet ¯ Healthcare toilet

Lavatory auto cleaning (maintenance-free)


Panel Wood ® Tile æ Steel plate ­ Asbestos cement sheet

Decorative laminated sheet (with solvent paint) Incombustible ® Noninflammable Hardness (H) Hardness (2H) (Latter half of 90s)

Solventless panel · High reform ability · Liquid crystal noninflammable panel · Ceramic board · Maintenance-free board (fluorocarbon resin coating) (dirt can be removed once it is heated) · Wooden board with resin


Wood ® Natural Plywood Steel plate ® SUS Copper Iron

Polyester ® Acrylic urethane Asbestos cement ® Non-asbestos cement Pattern printed paper ¯ Pattern printed saturating paper

Inorganic material ® Ceramic Fixing substance (adhesive) ¯ Velcro tape, magnet

Chart 5: Matrix for System Evolution of Panels

Create a target system for the near future (assuming about 10 years from now on) while considering the history from the past to present for the target system, its subsystem and super-system. At the same time create the subsystem and super-system in the same way. As a matter of course, the contents described in IPQ in Step 1 which can be utilized (e.g. contents of the fourth item for this step) are copied. In this step, when assuming the near future, we did not limit to the contents described in IPQ, but attempted to create in the shape of wide ideas with reference to the Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems in IWB (Innovation Work Bench) TRIZ software.

4-4. Step 4: Map the Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems.

Map the Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems by applying the contents of the Matrix for System Evolution prepared in the previous step to each Pattern. In this case, without limiting to one Pattern, we tried to grasp any item, which fit into several Patterns.

Chart 6: Mapping Chart of Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems (Partial)

4-5. Step 5: Develop a concept for target system in the future - scenario writing.

Develop several scenarios related to the target system with reference to the Mapping Chart of Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems prepared in the previous step. Specifically, review the method of combination between future events and develop scenario for each combination group while utilizing various Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems. In this case develop scenarios in combination with future events based on those clarified in the pattern mapping chart while considering the relationships of independence and inconsistency.

The future events utilized in the combination scenarios can be categorized into three levels: subsystem, system and super-system, we tried to review the combination scenarios utilizing future events at all three levels. Chart 7 shows some of these scenarios in this case.


Step 6: Evaluate each concept (scenario) for the target system.

Evaluate the feasibility of each concept (scenario) from the criteria including technical limitation, economical investment size, and legal regulations, and finally select the most valuable and promising scenario from them. At the time of evaluation, try to select the optimal scenario from among the several concepts of the team members. Especially it is recommended to establish criteria, which may be exist in the future, and then evaluate in accordance with them.

Chart 7 summarizes the evaluation results of this case in relation to the previous steps.


Concept A

Concept B

Concept C


Automation arrives in kitchens and the concept of saving trouble in the housing will further be generalized. Therefore, development, which makes cleaning and maintenance enjoyable and easy, will be advanced. Under such trend, maintenance-free board will appear as housing panel. In terms of material, this board has a characteristic that dirt can be removed by heating the board due to the technology of fluorocarbon resin coating. This board also will use materials that can be cleaned by a mechanical cleaning device. Finally the board will be the type to which no foreign matter will adhere.

Automatic cleaning of lavatory will be enabled and cleaning of the healthcare toilet will be easier. This suggests that a flushing water type floor and wall will appear (dirt can be cleanly removed by water). Also under this kind of environmental change, a maintenance-free board will appear. The keywords are sterilization and deodorant.

The demand for comfortable bathing is intensified. Under such circumstance, home sauna and Jacuzzi with compact size can be installed in a bathroom. It will also be possible to enjoy beautiful scenery using a large-screen TV (liquid crystal flat panel). This will be just like landscapes painted on the walls of the Japanese old time public baths but evolved to animated and clear image. Under this background, the demand for liquid crystal (noninflammable) panel total coverage will increase. Thus for LCD panel strength will be provided and waterproof performance will also be improved.

Technical limitation (Importance x 2)

4 x 2 = 8

3 x 2 = 6

4 x 2 = 8

Investment scale




Consideration to environment




Legal regulations








Corporate profitability




Total point

28 points

27 points

22 points


No. 1

No. 2

No. 3

Chart 7: Scenario Generation and Evaluation


Phase 2 - Steps 7 to 13: Product Planning VE

This phase corresponds to the Product Planning VE (0 Look VE) and is a stage to generate a product plan aimed at realization of the scenario prepared in Phase 1. The introduction of each step constructing this phase is omitted, but a part of the product plan (draft) for the scenario with the top priority is indicated as Chart 8.

[Outline of developing new product] System: Near futuristic kitchen board (tentative) Customer image: Housing manufacturers, kitchen manufacturers Timing: Newly built, remodeling and expansion Application: To be utilized as noninflammable decorative laminated sheet Reason: To provide maintenance-free function to the noninflammable decorative board around the kitchen, where it is easy to become greasy and dirty

[Customer requirements]


Requirements of panel using manufacturers · Easy to construct · Economics · Measures taken against VOC

Requirements of end users · Maintainability · Taste (design priority) · Safety (no fire by oven heat)

Target customer: ****

Basic specification: ****

Assumed market: Alternative market of different product

Sales objective (1st year) ****

Sales projections (2nd year) **** (3rd year) ****

Distribution channel: Direct sales route to the housing manufacturers


Cost objective (direct manufacturing cost) ****


Chart 8: Product Plan based on the Scenario (Partial)

6. Phase3: Developing Design VE

After the product plan, an output of Phase 2 is approved in the DR (design review) of the planning stage, enter into the steps of the Developing Design VE (1st Look VE) aimed at the realization of highly valuable design concept.

6-1. Step 14: Define planned required functions.

After reviewing the product plan, define the planned required functions simple and clear by a few words (verb + noun). Extract these planned required functions from the scenario prepared in Step 5 and [Outline of developing new product] and [Customer requirements] in Product Plan (Chart 8). The functions in this case are shown in Chart 9.

Shuts out flame.


Shuts out heat.

Backside temperature: ***°C or less

Prevents submersion.


Makes cleaning easier.

Drying once a year is enough.

Makes carrying easier.


Maintains safety.


Maintains health.

At the time of delivery: 0.08 ppm or less (at 20°C)

Improves appearance.

Two types of design are available.



Chart 9: Definitions of Planned Required Functions (Partial)

6-2. Step 15: Sort out planned required functions.

Systematize the defined planned required functions and express the functions to be fulfilled as development themes visually using a function system chart. Although this function system chart is developed in Japan, it also can be considered as one type of FAST, a VE technique developed in the US. This chart specifically systematizes mutual dependency relationships of individual defined functions in a logic of “purpose - means.” (This is an accidental discovery, but this function system chart can easily be generated using IWB Problem Formulator.)

Chart 10 shows a part of the function system chart of this case.

Chart 10: Function System Chart of Panel (Partial)

6-3. Step 16: Establish the targeted cost for developing design.

Establish the target cost (function evaluation value) for each function area of the function system chart prepared in the previous step.

Obtain the degree of importance of each function area utilizing one of the methodologies for decision making (e.g. Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP)). Then establish the target cost based on the obtained degree of importance. Chart 11 shows a part of the results of this case.

Function Area

Degree of Importance of Function Area (Utilization of AHP)

Target Cost

F5: Maintains health.


*** yen

F1: Protects buildings.


*** yen

F2: Makes living comfortable.


*** yen

F4: Improves appearance.


*** yen

F3: Maintains safety


*** yen

Chart 11: Establishment of Target Cost for Each Function

6-4. Step 17: Conceptualize basic idea for developing design (utilization of TRIZ).

In order to create an idea to achieve a specific function, review the idea based on the concept focused on the function. VE usually conceptualize ideas using brainstorming, but in this case the Innovation Guide (Technology Innovation) and Operators, knowledge database of IWB were also used together with the brainstorming.

6-5. Step 18: Evaluate basic idea for developing design (rough evaluation).
Step 19: Evaluate/Determine basic idea for developing design (utilization of TRIZ).

Preliminarily evaluate the ideas (rough chart level) created in the previous step in Step 18. In this preliminary evaluation identify ideas (rough chart level) expecting improvement value (advantage in terms of both economy and technology).

Then, sort out these ideas for each function area by individual viewpoints and construct the total concept design scenario while considering independence and inconsistency among ideas in Step 19.

In this case, the whole concept design scenarios were intensified into two: cleaning ability improvement type and health consideration type.

6-6. Step 20: Evaluate/Determine basic idea for developing design (utilization of TRIZ).

Determine the concept design scenario with high priority after a feasibility study of each concept design scenario. Specifically, analyze advantages and defects of each scenario. Then determine feasibility after also reviewing countermeasures against defects. In this step it is important to sufficiently anticipate what result will be brought if the scenario is actually implemented utilizing experience and knowledge (expertise) so far. The countermeasures against individual defects must combine expertise of team members so that technical or economical defects can be overcame. But in this case a more efficient review of defect countermeasures utilizing IPS (Inventive Problem Solving) of IWB was tried during this stage. (For the detailed explanation of this point, refer to my paper presented in TRIZCON 2000.)

As a result, we determined that the concept design scenario of the cleaning ability improvement type is optimal and has high feasibility.

Lastly generate the basic concept chart, estimate the cost and evaluate the value improvement in Step 21.

7. Conclusion

In this way this paper has introduced the method of combining the Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems of TRIZ (in reality DE steps developed by Ideation were heavily used) and Product Development VE (Japanese-style VE after all) as practical steps suitable for present product development activities. As a result of the case study conducted at Company S, we received an evaluation where the highly effective design scenario could be developed and lead to the contract of full-scale project consultation utilizing of these practical steps.

As this result proves, the combination of the Patterns of Evolution of Technological Systems and Product Development VE is effectively practical. In the future we hope to refine these practical steps and sophisticate them into more effective product development technique.


  1. Manabu Sawaguchi. 20 Steps of Product Development Activities using VE. In Japanese. Doyukan, September, 1996.
  2. Ideation International. Tools of Classical TRIZ.
  3. Innovation Work Bench: Ideation International.