Letter to the Editor

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  • Abram Teplitskiy's TRIZ Journal articles focus on interesting areas and provide useful information. Some additional information relating to his March article, Student Corner: The Gift of Serendipity, that may be of interest to TRIZ Journal readers follows:

    1. The term serendipity was coined by Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, in 1754 when describing discoveries made by a combination of accident and prepared mind, as in the fairy tale he read, "The Three Princes of Serendip."
    2. The most famous example of scientific serendipity is Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin, said to have saved more lives than any other medicine.
    3. For other cases of serendipity, read Royston Roberts' book, Serendipity: Accidental Discoveries of Science (Wiley & Sons, 1989).
    4. The nine dot problem dates back to at least 1907. The psychological box drawn around the nine dots that inhibits our ability to solve the problem is said to be the source of the "out of the box" expression used to describe creative problem solving.
    5. The paintbrush example combines aspects of several creativity techniques – Attribute Listing, Morphological Analysis and Forced Association. In Attribute Listing, attributes of objects are listed in order to identify means to improve them. In Morphological Analysis, independent variables (such as the handle and bristles for a paintbrush) involved in the situation are identified, various options for each are listed, and interesting combinations of the options are examined for advantages. In Forced Association, random words or pictures are associated with the situation in order to improve it. Teplitskiy's use of forced association to several objects with a focus on attributes is novel.
    6. Brainstorming was first described by Alex Osborn in Applied Imagination:The Principles and Procedures of Creative Thinking (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1953). The four rules of brainstorming are that many ideas, wild ideas and building on others' ideas are desired, while absolutely no criticism is allowed during idea generation.
    7. Personal analogy is described, but there is a TRIZ technique that is superior to it – Many Little Men (MLM). MLM is better because people otherwise shy away from envisioning themselves in a negative environment (e.g., being dissolved in acid or attacked by bacteria). The MLM concept benefits from involving more than one person and, sometimes, even different groups having different characteristics.
    8. The ARIZ X-Component is similar to fantastic analogy and can "magically" solve problems. If practical, the addition of an X-Component can yield an Ideal Solution.          

    Richard Kaplan, creativity consultant  

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