TRIZ Challenge - August 2001

We challenge you to use your TRIZ skills and your knowledge to help solve a humanitarian or social problem. We hope that you will submit your results for publication in the TRIZ journal. Every few months we will set a new challenge - but that does not mean that you cannot continue to work on previous challenges, indeed you may have chosen to work on this for your project or coursework.

Send your results, ideas, comments and suggestions for future challenges to 


This month's challenge is a social challenge. How do we encourage people to be so efficient that they don't have a job?

"I know my maintenance workforce are not maintaining the machines correctly, so that they break down and thus always have a job to do. This downtime costs me 100 profit per minute (1,000 turnover), so I cannot afford the production lines to stop. I have to have the plant fully operational round the clock to compete with cheap foreign imports."

"When a major failure occurs I do not seem to have enough maintenance crew to do some of the work, and we have to wait hours to get an emergency contractor in to help, it is not helped by the plant being 10 miles from the town."

What changes would you suggest to this Managing Director?

How would you ensure that production keeps going, whilst maintaining quality and employee morale?

How would you meet the contradiction of needing no (few) people when everything is running smoothly, but yet want lots of people with a mixture of skills instantly there when something goes wrong?

Can you introduce an incentive/process/procedure that means that it is in a workers interest to keep full production going, but that they also keep a job and a wage?

Can you reintroduce trust between the Managing Director and their workforce?

Does your solution provide benefits for all parties?