Enlarging TRIZ and Teaching Enlarged TRIZ for the Large Public (Part 1 of 4)

This is part 1 of a 4-part series.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4


Keynote Papers for
Woodland Hills Hilton Hotel
Woodland Hills, California, USA.
March 25-27, 2001
Hosted by the Altshuller Institute, USA
Ph.D., Sc.D.,
Director of the Center for Scientific and Technical Creativity (CSTC)
Vietnam National University - HoChiMinh City
College of Natural Sciences
227 Nguyen Van Cu St., Dist. 5
HoChiMinh City, Vietnam
Tel : (848) 8301743 Fax: (848) 8354009
E-mail : pdung@hcmuns.edu.vn or tsk@hcmuns.edu.vn

Website : http://www.hcmuns.edu.vn/CSTC/home-v.htm (In Vietnamese)
http://www.hcmuns.edu.vn/CSTC/home-e.htm (In English)


Enlarging TRIZ and Teaching Enlarged TRIZ for the Large Public*



Genrikh Saulovich Altshuller in his speeches, articles and books repeatedly stressed the possibility and necessity of enlarging TRIZ into non-technical areas.

This paper gives a brief review on some ideas and results associated with a process of enlarging TRIZ and teaching enlarged TRIZ for the large public at our Center for Scientific and Technical Creativity (CSTC) belonging to Vietnam National University - HoChiMinh City College of Natural Sciences.

Requirements, rules and resources which, in our view, should be taken into consideration in this process are put forward in the first part of the paper. The second part presents some results derived from the process mentioned above. A few illustrations are given in the third part. Conclusions and visions on related issues are outlined in the last part.

On the basis of our own experiences in using TRIZ for solving different kinds of problems and teaching TRIZ for the large public irrespective of age, profession and position for many years, we believe that TRIZ itself, in all senses, can be the core of the general theory of creative problem solving. Such a kind of theory needs to educate and train all people how to think and act creatively in a scientific way in order to govern the development process to construct a society which progressively becomes more humane and efficient.


In 1973, after I graduated from the Public Institute of Inventive Creativity (PIIC or its Russian acronym is AzOIIT) I had such a strong desire to share my TRIZ (the Russian acronym for Theory of Inventive Problem Solving) knowledge with my compatriots, because what I had learned from Mr. Altshuller had been so useful in my life.

In 1977, with encouragement from Mr. Altshuller - the founder of TRIZ, my experiences with him and the experiences based on my use of TRIZ in my work and daily life I created the adapted program entitled “Creativity Methodologies” and conducted it as an extra-curricular course for students from differing departments of HoChiMinh City University. I wrote the “adapted program” because in order to introduce into and disseminate TRIZ widely in Vietnam, in the first place, I should take into account Vietnam’s cultural, social, economic, scientific and technological conditions. This adaptation, shortly after that, was turned into a process of enlarging TRIZ to be taught not only for engineers but for the large public. In this regard, it is necessary to say a little about the reason for such a change.

H. G. Wells remarked, “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe”. As a teacher in education I am keenly aware of this challenge and, of course, I would like to contribute as much as possible to the victory of education. But what does education do to beat catastrophe?

There are many definitions of human beings, one of them is that human beings are thinking creatures. But from possessing thinking ability to knowing how to think well is a long distance. Many writers suppose that a great number of tragedies at personal, group, even national and global levels have deep causes through inadequate thinking skills for solving related problems.

A long time ago, Charles Darwin suggested, “The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts”. But in practice, as Mr. Altshuller indicated in his famous book Creativity as an Exact Science, “Any idea of controlling something that is not yet controlled today is received calmly. We will find means of controlling it, we shall control it. Yet only the idea of controlling the process of creativity as a rule encounters hefty resistance”. In spite of that , he has created TRIZ, “The new technology of creativity, in which the process of thinking is not chaotic but organized and plainly subject to control”.

Today, many educators including myself have shared the thought of Jim Killian, the former president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “The basic aim of education is not to accumulate knowledge, but rather to learn to think creatively, teach oneself and seek answers to questions as yet unexplored”. In my turn, I would like to add, “And put creative ideas into action”.

Initially, TRIZ was aimed first of all at engineers. Later on, Mr. Altshuller in his speeches, articles and books time and again stressed the possibility and necessity for enlarging TRIZ to other non-engineering fields, that is, for creating the general theory of creative problem solving in any area of human activity.

On the basis of our own experiences in using TRIZ for solving different kinds of problems and teaching TRIZ for the large public irrespective of age, profession and position for more than 25 years we believe that TRIZ itself, in all senses can be the core of such a theory. In our vision, TRIZ-based general theory of creative problem solving will help education to beat catastrophe. Writing on this point, I remember William Drummond’s observation. “He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; he who dares not is a slave” and want to add in TRIZ spirit “He/she who knows how to think and act for solving the problems encountered during his/her life in a scientific way is a free and happy man/woman”.

This paper gives a brief review on some ideas and results associated with enlarging TRIZ and teaching enlarged TRIZ for the large public at our Center for Scientific and Technical Creativity (CSTC) belonging to Vietnam National University - HoChiMinh City College of Natural Sciences.

  1. Enlarging TRIZ and Teaching Enlarged TRIZ for the Large Public: Requirements, Rules and Resources.

In our view, the efforts for enlarging TRIZ and teaching enlarged TRIZ for the large public should be made according to the following requirements, rules and resources:

  1. To fulfil Mr. Altshuller’s humane ideal as he wrote, “People have equal right to happiness and this right includes, first of all, the right to creativity, the right to the development of related abilities for creativity... Everyone must be literate in creativity”.

  2. For this aim, TRIZ must be enlarged toward eradicating “the illiteracy in creativity” in general, so that enlarged TRIZ can help the general populous to solve problems in all aspects of their daily lives in the scientific way like TRIZ solving problems in technological fields.

  3. For a long time, research work should aim at managing creative thinking in the process of problem solving and create a full set of appropriate tools (in the largest meaning) to cope with the variety of people's lives and the world. To that end, enlarged TRIZ should be a further development of constructing the kind of creative thinking which is dialectical systems thinking and directed by the objective laws of systems development in accordance with the inherent features of TRIZ.

  4. TRIZ has its own great intrinsic resources that can be used for self-enlargement. For example, in TRIZ there are many points whose meanings may be explained or interpreted much more largely so that TRIZ philosophy and/or spirit might be used in any sphere of human activity, not only in technological fields. Moreover, from the view of systems hierarchy, Mr. Altshuller considers forty basic creativity principles analogous to chemical elements and creativity methods analogous to chemical compounds (results of various combinations of chemical elements). The real world, which is infinitely diverse at an atomic level of the systems hierarchy consists of more than a hundred chemical elements. If we take into account not only forty principles but subprinciples with their implications, I am sure that the obtained quantity is much more than a hundred. Imagine what a diverse world of creativity tools we can create. In this connection, I believe that the other (non-TRIZ) creativity methods are only special cases of TRIZ.

  5. TRIZ has been constructed relying on a lot of sources (see Figure 1). Among them there are sciences having a high degree of generalization (e.g. dialectics, systems theory, cybernetics, information theory). This means that these sciences have a very large area of application. So, their current knowledge and new findings in the future can facilitate effectively the process of enlarging TRIZ on the path to creation of the general theory of creative problem solving.

There are two sides of human creativity: subjective (psychological) and objective. According to TRIZ, the essence of the issue is that only the person who grasps the objective laws of systems development and manages his/ her psychology along them can achieve a high efficiency in creativity.

It is obvious that this management will be better if the person knows how his/ her psychological factors work. So, teaching of enlarged TRIZ needs to be supplemented by more knowledge of cognitive psychology.

  1. Patent information which on its merits is information about inventive creativity (or development of inventions) has helped research work in order to reveal the objective development laws of technological systems. But one drop of sea water may reflect the taste of the whole sea. Then, on the one hand there are possibilities to transpose application of the objective laws of systems development, ideas, the way we reason and tools in TRIZ to other non-technological areas, and on the other hand you may present enlarged TRIZ with countless illustrations taken from non-technological areas. It is possible because development of all kinds of systems obey the similar, analogical or isomorphic laws.

  2. According to Mr. Altshuller, especially when tackling inventive problems of the highest levels, a solver has to have a knowledge of the whole of technology, the whole of physics, the whole of chemistry. To meet this demand, the booklets “Guiding the Usage of Physical/ Chemical/ Geometrical Effects in Inventing” were born. In our view existing “Guidings” are inadequate, primitive and not convenient to use. Given this, I think, there will be very large room for future research work in that direction.

  3. In enlarging TRIZ, Mr. Altshuller’s working style should be strictly followed, that is, every enlargement in TRIZ should be verified, corrected and perfected through a feedback established with the development information in general and patent information in particular, and the results of use of learners during and after the teaching process.

    Luckily, in comparison with our ancestors, now we have a very great amount of information about many kinds of evolution and development in biology, society, cosmology, scientific and technological knowledge and so forth. If before, this information to great extent has been processed fragmentarily in accordance with specialized fields, then now, we should reprocess all information about reality from the angle of development. In such a way, because of unity of reality we can reveal the most generalized laws of development or at least, isomorphic, similar or analogical laws of development which can serve as a directing mechanism in creative thinking (thinking for problem solving and decision making).

  4. In principle, the large public must be understood as all people without any exception. In practice, up to now we have concentrated our efforts on people with high and higher education irrespective of age, profession and position.

    In our view, enlarged TRIZ is able to be fully adapted for people with lower education.

  5. Like other sciences, during its evolution and development TRIZ can be enlarged toward specialization on stages of a process of conducting creativity and innovation, and on theoretical and applied issues.

  1. Enlarging TRIZ and Teaching Enlarged TRIZ for the Large Public: Some Results.

Our program “Creativity Methodologies” based on TRIZ has the aim of providing the large public (not only engineers) with knowledge and tools which help them solve creatively and innovatively in a scientific way problems (not only technological ones whose solutions must be patentable) they may encounter during their lives. The following are some results derived from the process of accomplishing this aim.

  1. 1. Introducing Clarity into and Enlarging Concepts Used in TRIZ.

It is known that every discipline has its basic concepts and their definitions help people to have a common language which is useful in thinking, communication and action. With time, the term that is a form of expression of the given concept can remain the same but its content may be changed and enriched with many new meanings (implications). It is one of the ways to enlarge an application of concepts. Thus, we have made a real attempt to do that for basic concepts used in TRIZ. The following are definitions with explanations involved in some of these concepts.

Creativity is an activity leading to anything (in the largest meaning) having both newness and usefulness simultaneously.

There are many implications relating to how to understand this definition. For example:

Our activities originate from and meet our needs. In search of ways to meet our needs, we may encounter or set problems to solve.

A problem is a situation where a solver knows the aim (in the largest meaning) but

  1. does not know any way to reach it or
  2. does not know the optimum way to reach it among known ways to reach it (i.e. decision making process).

Problems differ in difficulty levels. For example, TRIZ divided the difficulty of technological problems (or the inventive creativity) into five levels. If we take also all other problems into consideration, it is apparent that human life is a succession of problems to be solved and decisions to be made. Life will be happy if all problems in general (not only technological problems) can be solved well. In the opposite case, life will be “the sea of torments”. TRIZ needs to be enlarged toward helping ordinary people to solve well all the problems which they may face in their work and life. If TRIZ could do so, their lives would be “ the sea of happiness”. In our view, TRIZ has a great capacity for that.

Basically, a human being has to think really and actively when he/she has a problem to solve.

Creative thinking is the thought process leading the solver from not knowing to

  1. knowing the way to reach his/ her aim or
  2. knowing the optimum way to reach his/ her aim among known ways.

We call this thought process creative thinking of the solver because there are both newness: from “not knowing” to “knowing” and usefulness: at last the desired aim is reached and both ends are found by the solver’s own thinking efforts. In fact, creative thinking is the thinking process of solving problems and making decisions.

After getting the solution in the form of an idea to the given problem, the next step for the solver is to realize it in places where this idea is needed. In other words, in addition to thinking, actions need to be performed to ensure that the solution becomes real and accepted.

Innovation is a process of thinking up creative ideas and implementing them so that all changes as results of this process are fully, stably and sustainably accepted by the related systems which after that function better than before.

A crude innovative process can be represented by Figure 2.

In our opinion, the problem can be considered as successfully solved only when its solution has been accepted fully, stably and sustainably, at last, by the system of potential users in practice (full or complete innovation). Then, newness becomes oldness and usefulness becomes real, and only in such a case we will have a genuine development in reality. In other words, what we need is not creativity for the sake of creativity but for the sake of the problem being solved successfully in reality, that is, for the sake of full (complete) innovation. Because “the end of fishing is not angling but catching” and I want to add “and the caught fish should be eaten by the appropriate consumers and the environment is not polluted afterwards”. In this regard, we have set a task before us, ‘To teach creativity methodologies which must motivate learners to put their gained knowledge and tools into action”. Innovative process represents a process of systems state transition, that is, it transforms related systems from a prototype state to an improved state. Namely, here systems inertia should be taken into consideration. Systems inertia is the attempt or effort made by the given system toward preserving the old state and always resisting the transition to the new state if the new state does not coincide with the change tendency at the prototype state.

According to the special theory of relativity, the maximum velocity of motion is equal to that of light in vacuum, i.e., there is not infinite velocity. For this reason, we can conclude that systems inertia is the attribute inherent in any system and state transition time (inertia time) is always greater than zero. Human psychology is only one kind of system, thus, psychological inertia may be considered as a special case though a very important case of systems inertia.

  1. 2. TRIZ: Dialectical Systems Thinking for Problem Solving and Decision Making.

For preparing TRIZ users a teaching program may be designed to present only TRIZ content accompanied by illustrations and exercises. Doing so is useful because, in the sense of advantages, TRIZ in comparison with the trial and error method is like an excavator in comparison with a shovel. But practice shows that the excavator’s user works better when he/she understands the basic knowledge and working mechanism underlying this excavator. In other words, TRIZ learners need to know and understand TRIZ knowledge sources and logic. For this reason, in our basic course “Creativity Methodologies”, one special chapter is devoted to presenting these related issues including psychology of creativity, systems theory, dialectics and patent information to the extent of preparing learners for understanding and using TRIZ competently later on. Some other applied knowledge derived from cybernetics, information theory and other generalized sources are introduced to learners later during the teaching when needs for that appear.

In this paper we confine ourselves to making emphasis on some points concerning dialectics and systems thinking.

Dialectics is the science of most common laws of nature, social and mental development. Creativity is associated with a development, so TRIZ has selected dialectical laws as its philosophical foundation.

There are three basic laws of dialectics:

  1. The law of the negation of negation, which conveys the direction of development.

  2. The law of the mutual transformation of quantitative and qualitative changes , which demonstrates the mechanism of development.

  3. The law of unity and struggle of opposites, which demonstrates the source of development.

Of them, the third law is the nucleus of dialectics and the first two laws may be considered as particular cases.

In addition to the three basic laws of dialectics there exist also non-basic laws. Non-basic laws of dialectics are those universal laws which reflect relationships of phenomena in the universe. Since these relationships are very diverse, they are expressed in a large number of laws. In particular, these non-basic laws include essential, stable, recurrent and intrinsic relationships between:

  1. The individual, the particular and the universal

  2. Phenomenon and essence

  3. Form and content

  4. Cause and effect

  5. Necessity and chance

  6. Possibility and reality, etc.

Development, from the viewpoint of dialectics, can be understood as follows:

Supposing at first the system was at some level of development where there was unity of opposites. This unity does not exist forever . Because of changes and a struggle (mutual interaction) between the contrary sides, the initial unity is broken and a contradiction arises. The contradiction is resolved so that the system turns to a new level of development (new unity). In the long run, another contradiction will emerge and will be resolved again so that the system will turn to a newer level of development... and so on without ending. Figure 3 shows crudely development, creativity, innovation and problem solving process in dialectical meaning.

Unity 2 (object after improvement) in comparison with Unity 1 (prototype object) has both newness and usefulness simultaneously so Unity 2 is also the creativity product. In terms of dialectics we can say Unity 2 negates (replaces) Unity 1. Dialectical logic reflects the logic of development, therefore the logic of creativity. According to TRIZ, to solve a problem is to resolve contradictions on a win-win basis to turn the given system into a new unity of two contrary sides where previously those sides eliminated each other, that is, into a new level of development. In TRIZ there is the means that helps the solver to reveal and to resolve revealed contradictions.

In fact, the human problem solving process represents the process of discovering contradictions and resolving them. Therefore, three kinds of contradictions put forward in TRIZ (administrative, technical and physical ones) are general, i.e. they exist in all kinds of problems. In other words, these concepts of contradictions and ways of resolving them can be fully enlarged to non-technological areas including daily life activity.

Example (derived from business):

There was a man who loved animals very much. Whenever he got some money, he brought home to raise birds, cats, dogs, bears, elephants and so on. One day, he wanted to become a professional businessman in trade of animals but he did not want to leave his animals - those he himself fed and trained.

Thereby, the physical contradiction is: these animals have to be sold to get profit and not be sold to be enjoyed by their owner.

The answer was to let these animals for rent. That means selling them for a while and then getting them back, and over and over again. In his case, the renting established the unity of two contradictory sides: “selling” and “not selling.” The principles used in this example were Continuity of Useful Action and Periodic Action.

Mankind has to study objects and solve problems that are getting more and more complex. The approach considering the whole as an arithmetical sum of components is not suitable any more. It is necessary to have an approach that permits us to study not only the components and the dependences, actions and influences between them, but also the qualitative change of the whole in relation to these components. System is defined as follows: a system is an assembly composed of connected component elements so that the whole assembly has such properties which cannot be reduced to the properties of the separate component elements or connections. These properties are called systemness (or wholeness) of the given system. The systemness is used to express the specific function of the system or to answer the question “For what is the system born (or constructed)?”

Because of systems connections, any change happening somewhere in the system or in the surrounding environment will not be located at that place but will spread throughout the system and beyond it. This systems change spreading effect may cause contradictions inside and/ or outside the given system.

The systemness depends on both the elements and the connections. For this reason, it is possible to develop the systemness by changing (in the largest meaning, for instance, modifying, adding, removing, nesting) the elements, or the connections, or both. In this sense, TRIZ tools (for example, 40 principles) work as systems transformers.

Development in general and creativity in particular become with time more and more complicated. For that reason, the knowledge of systems research is consistently used in TRIZ, see Figure 4.

There is always a particular system in each problem. TRIZ not only requires but also creates devices (for example, System Operator) that help a solver to “see”, think about and process, at least, “nine-systems thinking display”. It is needed because, information resides in any of its systems which may have influence on or serve as prompts to a solution to the given problem.

TRIZ is a concrete expression of applying dialectics and systems research to the creative thinking process, that is, such a kind of creative thinking directed by objective systems development laws. This directing mechanism helps the solver to eliminate a considerable number of barren trials not coinciding with the solution’s direction.

  1. 3. Concepts of Systems Space and Ideal Criterion for Good Solution/ Decision

In reality, we may deal with multifunctional systems. In these cases, for the n-functional system we can consider it on each-function basis separately and for each-function consideration we also have two axes existing in TRIZ Systems Operator: axes of time and systems hierarchy. Certainly, these n ways of consideration are interrelated.

In addition to that, though TRIZ also takes into account the subjective (psychological) side of creativity (e. g. psychological inertia, imagination) for human beings’ happiness it is not enough. The point is that different people have different urgent needs, interests, preferences, perspectives ... And all of these things may be correct, need to be respected and taken into consideration by the problem solver, even from the viewpoint of the whole of a community or the whole of mankind.

In response to all said above the third axis called axis (or dimension) of consideration has been introduced into TRIZ Systems Operator (see Figure 5). Then, the axis (or dimension) of consideration and together with it, the axis of systems hierarchy will revolve on the axis of time as many times as there are ways of consideration by interested people. Axes which are ones of time, systems hierarchy and dimension of consideration form the Systems Space. In particular, for only one dimension of consideration we have the Systems Plane.

With introducing the dimension of consideration, there may arise a new kind of contradiction: contradiction between different systems belonging to different dimensions of consideration. According to TRIZ win-win solution the solver must find the solution which is good for all these systems simultaneously.

Generalizing all presented above we have put forward the Ideal Criterion for Good Solution/ Decision as follows:

The solution/ decision which is being considered the good one should be good not only for the system residing in the given problem but for all systems and environment in systems space. Of course, to meet this criterion is very difficult. For practical use, we have reduced it as follows:

The solution/ decision which is being considered the good one should be good not only for the system residing in the given problem but, at least, for all systems and environment residing in the nine-systems display if there is only one dimension of consideration, or for all 9n systems and environment if there are n dimensions of consideration.

In our view, the concept of Ideal Criterion for Good Solution (ICGS) is very important for many reasons. Some of them are as follows:

  1. The contemporary challenges faced by us such as fast change, increasing complexity, diversity and competition lead to an increasing amount of problems at all levels. Because of that, no system can solve all problems for the rest of systems. All systems are interrelated, so if ICGS is not maintained a solution of one system may cause problems for other ones. And further, the system which made the given decision in the past can encounter new problems in the future as negative consequences. As a result of this, we do not have the needed sustainable development.

  2. On the other hand, if the given solver (or decision maker) should take the consequences in the form of punishment from society or within his/her conscience then his/her life would not be happy. So ICGS may serve as a motivating factor for human beings’ actions.

  3. Educating all people, especially from early ages, to keep ICGS during the problem solving process, in our view, may help to lift cultural and ethical levels that now do not correspond to economic, scientific and technological progress.

  1. 4. Enlarging an Understanding of TRIZ.

Though TRIZ, first and foremost has been built for solving technical problems but only in semantical aspect, TRIZ has a lot of potentials for a larger interpretation, therefore, a larger understanding and use of TRIZ.

In TRIZ, there are many words, phrases, sentences and even paragraphs which can be (and in our view, should be) understood in the largest meaning, see Figure 6. In addition to that, those people who have learned also the sources of TRIZ can understand TRIZ to a larger extent in light of these sources.

In general, when teaching TRIZ we always encourage our learners to understand meanings of TRIZ statements largely and in dialectical, systems and imaginative ways.

  1. 5.Diversifying Kinds of Application of TRIZ

When teaching TRIZ to our learners we also always make an emphasis on the diversity of application of TRIZ tools and statements on a daily basis. This is important because in daily life and work there are many different problems whose solutions require an application of only one or two of TRIZ points. Moreover, usefulness of these solutions is realized immediately and explicitly and this joy itself of daily life helps people to become happier.

To accomplish that purpose, we illustrate it by examples taken from different areas and give our learners exercises helping them to understand and use TRIZ diverse advantages separately or in combination such as:

  1. 6. Deepening TRIZ Logic

As you and we have seen, TRIZ itself is a large theory with a great number of creativity tools. Though we strive to structure our program so that it takes learners through simple issues to more complicated ones and every part of the program is a logical successor of previous ones, in fact, even those people who have learned the whole of TRIZ may not “see the wood for the trees”.

To avoid this, at the end of each course we always provide learners with a review of the whole program.

Mr. Altshuller wrote about the relationship between principle, method and theory as follows: “Crudely expressed, principle, method and theory form a chain of the type “brick - house - city” or “cell - organ - organism””. In other words, if we take TRIZ as a system then the method will be a subsystem and the principle - subsubsystem. According to a systems logic, a systemness of a system defines systemness of component subsystems and in turn, the given subsystem defines systemness of component subsubsystems and so on. To follow this logic in the thinking process for solving problems is very important, especially for problems in daily life and work where learners do not use (or cannot use ARIZ) but used to use only some principles or methods. We always require our learners to pay their attention to this logic by emphasizing that they should use principles or methods not for the sake of these principles or methods but for the sake of transformation of the given system residing in the problem in accordance with TRIZ objective laws of systems development.

There are nine laws of systems development in TRIZ:

  1. The law of conpleteness of component parts of the system.

  2. The law of passability of transference of the system.

  3. The law of concordance between component parts of the system.

  4. The law of increasing the degree of idealness of the system.

  5. The law of non-uniform development of component parts of the system.

  6. The law of the transition to development at level of the supersystem.

  7. The law of the transition from development at macrolevel to microlevel.

  8. The law of increasing the degree of controllability of the system.

  9. The law of the transition from one S-curve to another.

The following are some examples of an understanding and application of TRIZ, see Figures 7, 8, 9, and 10.

Among them, Figure 9 shows how to explain the process of development of the given system (i.e. the pointer) logically in terms of TRIZ principles, methods and laws. Eight principles found in the pen-pointer which are arranged in a certain order of their application can serve as one of possible TRIZ methods. This method can be applied to other similar objects in order to develop them (e.g. to the feather duster, see Figure 10).

Additionally, in Figure 9, reflections of TRIZ laws also can be seen:

The following is another example but this time, it is an interpersonal problem.

Story written by Vu Huu Su and published in the issue 28 July, 1997 of the newspaper “Kien Thuc Gia Dinh” (Family’s Knowledge):

One of the people I often visit is a writer who is always busy writing novels and short stories. His wife is a literary critic. His two children are gifted students.

There has been a cold war between my friend and his wife for two weeks. It was just because of a proverb.

His daughter, who majors in literature, asked him,

“Daddy, could you please explain the meaning of the proverb ‘The daughter-in-law abstains from eating September Rau-muong (a popular kind of water spinach in Vietnam), saving it for her mother-in-law’?”

“It’s not so difficult to understand the saying, dear”, replied the father, “Rau-muong is rare in September, as that’s not the season for growing it. The proverb is for praising dutiful daughters-in-law who always save rare, good things for their mother-in-law. Understand?”

“Yes, I do”, said the daughter.

“What an explanation!”, his wife interfered. “September is not the season for growing Rau-muong. That’s true. Yet this means September Rau-muong is not as good as usual, but very tough, tart and fibrous. Though it’s hard to find it, it’s not precious at all. The proverb is not for praising but for mocking foxy daughters-in-law, who are ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’. Get it?”

He replied: “This proverb came from ordinary people who are honest and simple, not as fault-finding as you critics. For you, to read is just to seek for the work’s content, and theme, and idea and the like without any understanding of literature and artistry at all”

“How can we find the artistic merits in such works as yours? Right, so I know nothing about literature and artistry. Then why did you insist on me writing recommendations for your works so many times?”

“The poor and stupid want to be intellectual, likewise, short-sighted people always peer around”.

“How right you are! I’m such a peasant! I’m so short-sighted! But why were you so crazy about this girl? Can you remember how many tears you have cried over me?”

The argument continued that way, on and on. And these are its last words.

“OK. We’ll get divorced then!”

“Thanks a million! Go ahead! Write an application for it! I’ll sign it immediately!”

Neither of them has written the application. Yet they haven’t said a word to each other since then and just communicated through their children. Also, they have slept separately at night…

I would not have given this incident a second thought if I had not visited a friend who deals with divorce cases. He said with grief, “The humorous yet sad fact is that up to 80% of divorces are caused by such trivial conflicts. It is just because neither the husband nor the wife wants to give himself/herself up. If only each of them could make concessions to the other.

Yes. If only they could make concessions.

Note: the husband’s interpretation is wrong. The wife’s interpretation is correct in accordance with the meaning given in the Dictionary of Vietnam’s Proverbs.


  1. Suppose that the husband and wife are famous writers. This means that they have a high level of creativity. But in this story they are not happy because they cannot solve the family’s problem well. In this connection, I suddenly remember the phrase said by one hero in a novel whose title I forget, “To be happy is more difficult than to be famous”.

  2. The author’s advice in this story, “If only each of them could make concessions to the other” is common. Following this advice repeatedly, however, may lead to stress and/or depression. Then, stress and depression will be a greater problem than the original. Problems should be solved well, they need not be hidden.

  3. “Up to 80% of divorces are caused by such trivial conflicts”. Why? We can see that the married couple cannot control themselves. Inversely, they are controlled by a harmful positive feedback which amplifies the tension between them and can destroy their family. Imagine what heavy consequences would happen to them and their children if they had divorced and what a society would be like which had many such divorced families. And in this case life will be, in fact, a sea of torments.

  4. From our viewpoint, the behaviour of the people in this story is the common behaviour of non-TRIZ users or not in TRIZ logic.

    The point is that, the family should be considered as the system with its systemness. The system should be developed in accordance with the TRIZ laws of systems development. In this story, at least, violation of the law of concordance between component parts (the family’s members) of the system (i.e. the family) arrests our attention immediately.

    Violation of the TRIZ laws is a strategical mistake in the meaning that, further using TRIZ methods and principles cannot solve the conflict because they are used outside the context of the TRIZ laws. For example, in this story, the married couple actually do not want to get divorced but they stand before the new problem, how to communicate with each other. To solve this problem, they use the principle Mediator (i.e. communicated through their children). The use of the principle Mediator here creates not progress but regress in comparison with the family’s state before the quarrel, thus violates the law of passability of (in this case, of information) transference of the system. And the family’s cold war remains and is not resolved.

  5. Now, imagine that the daughter is a TRIZ user and needs to solve the problem of the meaning of the proverb. According to TRIZ logic she should not immediately think about a new system (i.e. her father) to solve her problem but should first try to solve the problem by herself. This means that she should comply with the TRIZ law of increasing the degree of idealness of the system and use the accessible intrinsic resources (i.e. principle of Self-service) to arrive at a solution. The accessible intrinsic resources can be revealed here as follows:

  1. Suppose the proverb in the text was written in quotation marks. These marks are an obvious intrinsic resource as they act as a clue towards the author’s intent: anything written inside such punctuation can be seen as ironic - thus the meaning is not to praise but to chastise the daughter-in-law. If the daughter could recognize this she could arrive at the correct interpretation.

  2. Another accessible intrinsic resource is the context in which the proverb is used. The daughter should use the context to draw meaning from the proverb rather than utilize another system (her father) to solve her problem.

  3. Perhaps, as they are such a literary family, there is a well-stocked family library, maybe, even containing a Dictionary of Proverbs, from which the daughter could gather the meaning of the proverb. This, again, is an intrinsic resource and would negate the need to introduce another system.

  1. Now if her father were a TRIZ user, he would consider the relation between him and his daughter as the relation between instrument (father) and product (his daughter). According to the law of increasing the degree of idealness of the system he would act towards becoming the ideal instrument in the meaning that without him, his daughter (product) could solve her problem on her own. In other words, he should invest the TRIZ way of solving problems in his daughter, which would help her to solve not only the given problem, but, at least, her analogical problems in the future. Writing in this point, I remember similar trends of investment: student-centered teaching in education, employee-focused management, customer-oriented business and the saying “the next process is our customer” in Total Quality Management (TQM).

    In this story, after supposing that the father is a TRIZ user there may be two possibilities.

  1. The father does not know the meaning of the proverb. So it is for him a problem.

  2. The father knows the meaning of the proverb.