TRIZ: Incorporating the BRIGHT Process in Design

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    "To apply TRIZ in mathematics is somewhat dubious. Prominent to math is that there always exists only one answer, the right one. In creative problem solving there are many solutions."

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    By Shuo-kai Tsai and Peter R.N. Childs


    Users of the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) herald the benefits of the methodology. There is a disparity, however, between the TRIZ and industrial communities as to how often they practice TRIZ. The authors look at the differences between TRIZ, design processes and creative problem solving processes focusing primarily on creative thinking and the use of iteration. The authors developed a process named BRIGHT to increase the usability of TRIZ by adding creative thinking and iteration to the TRIZ environment.


    Brainstorming, creative problem solving process (CPS), design, design process, TRIZ


    An increasing interest in the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (developed by Genrich Altshuller and his colleagues) and its effects is evident in a higher number of TRIZ training events. The authors surveyed 194 design consultants in the United Kingdom to determine how often and how successfully they used TRIZ. The results did not show a high percentage of TRIZ use. So, the authors met with TRIZ experts in the United Kingdom. They found that some design experts were reluctant to reveal their TRIZ usage for confidentiality and commercial reasons, and others did not use TRIZ tools because of limited knowledge on how to use them in a design project.

    Because of difficulties discovering how industries use TRIZ, the authors consulted three TRIZ experts in the United Kingdom and explored ways to improve TRIZ in design. To develop a process, research was focused on designers' habits and how they normally solve design problems. Six product designers were interviewed to identify the methods used to solve design problems and what their expectations are of techniques that can assist in design projects. The results included the following:

    From this information "invisible" questions were developed to incorporate into TRIZ to help designers develop problem solutions. Designers usually start by exploring requirements and then move to idea generation. Some designers, however, ignore the importance of examining and refining the problem to find the core issue. Several TRIZ tools (such as functional analysis, su-field analysis or trends of evolution) are valuable for refining a problem. Other TRIZ tools are useful for evaluating and testing ideas. A clear process to help designers use TRIZ tools is required for wider acceptance and implementation. Researchers reviewed the traditional design process along with existing schemes for the implementation of TRIZ, comparing them and identifying reasons people have found it difficult to integrate TRIZ into their design projects.

    The Generative Process

    To identify a more effective process for implementing TRIZ, the authors reviewed and compared traditional design processes, the creative problem processes and a number of existing ways to implement and use TRIZ.

    The Design Process

    Successful products depend on the use of a well-organized design process and management for their generation.6 In a design process, the designer often starts with initial sketches describing possible solutions to the design problem followed by detailed design, evaluation and testing. An inappropriate design process could affect the product lifecycle and also increase the possibility of failure in generating a viable design. The selection and use of a good design process is as important as using a suitable creative technique.

    Will creative techniques be easily integrated within the design process? How and when should the techniques be implemented during the design? An effective product development process, as illustrated in Figure 1, must have well-defined and understood customer needs, be timely, allow for the product to transition easily and smoothly into the process with minimal engineering change, and offer a reasonable profit over its life cycle.14,24 Almost all design process flowcharts generated as attempts to describe the design process have identified it as consisting of sequential phases revisited in an iterative manner.2 This emphasizes the importance of feedback and iteration as these actions are important in the design process and allow users to review and rethink issues to produce the best solutions.

     Figure 1: Four Stage
     Model of the
     Design Process

    Design process models take many forms depending upon the designers' purpose and origin in a product design, but they always include certain activities.21 There is no universal format for the design process. If a design process is so important and useful in defining a successful design, does the TRIZ process fulfill these requirements?

    Creative Problem Solving Processes

    Creative problem solving (CPS) is a broadly applicable process that provides a structured framework for designing and generating new and useful outcomes.14 The main objectives of a creative thinking process are to think beyond existing boundaries, to awake curiosity, to break away from rational, conventional ideas and formalized procedures, to rely on the imagination, the divergent, the random and to consider multiple solutions and alternatives.22 Overall, the process of creative problem solving involves a framework that provides a systematic procedure to guide designers to effectively use techniques and methods in each stage of the process. Some reasons for the importance of using CPS include:

    In this study the authors used Osborn-Parnes CPS model (the foundation of classical brainstorming) and creative thinking expert Edward de Bono's TO-LO-PO-SO-GO (TO: What do I want to do?; LO: What information do I have and need?; PO: How do I get there?; SO: Which alternative do I choose?; GO: How do I put this into action?) process as references to discuss creative problem solving processes, because:19,7

    When considering creative problem solving processes, divergent and convergent thinking are often significant.12 For scientific or technical purposes, people tend to use a convergent thinking style while divergent thinking is the more prevalent style for artistic and humanities based activities.

     Figure 2: Characteristic Thinking Modes of
     Convergent and Divergent Thinking

    Emphasizing creative thinking in the process encourages thinking around the problem and the generation of multiple solutions.

    TRIZ Implementation Processes

    Figure 3 shows a typical model illustrating how to implement TRIZ to identify a problem and generate solutions.

     Figure 3: General Model
     for TRIZ Problem Solving

    This process provides a thinking model rather than a clear guide with specific instructions for each TRIZ tool. Through the limited research survey undertaken as part of this study and personal facilitation experience, it seems that many people find that TRIZ is too complicated and they give up and turn to other approaches. In addition, people sometimes tend to not know how, when and which of the TRIZ tools to use.

    There have been many different types of processes developed for TRIZ.1,4,5,6,8,9,15,17,20,23,25 These TRIZ processes have covered and stressed many different stages in a design project. Some processes offer ideas on which TRIZ tools to use but some do not − some just indicate that TRIZ can be used, but offer no details about how to apply the tools.

    Process Comparison

    The design process and two creative problem solving processes are compared in Table 1. The creative problem solving process is similar to the traditional design process with the principal difference being the focus on the use of divergent and convergent thinking in creative problem solving.

    Table 1: Comparison of Traditional Design Process and Creative Problem Solving Process

    Design Process

    CPS Process

    Establish the Needs

    Analyze the Problems

    Generate Ideas: Conceptual Design

    Generate Ideas: Detailed Design

    Evaluate the Solutions


    Osborn-Parnes' CPS Model

    Objective finding and fact finding

    Problem finding

    Idea finding

    Solution finding

    Acceptance finding

    de Bono's TO-LO-PO-SO-GO






    Table 2 shows a comparison between the traditional design process and existing schemes for implementing TRIZ.

    Table 2: Comparison Between Traditional Design Process and Existing Schemes for TRIZ Implementation

    Design Process

    TRIZ Process Developer

    Establish the Needs

    Analyze the Problems

    Generate Ideas: Conceptual Design

    Generate Ideas: Detailed Design

    Evaluate the Solutions


    Mazur17• Engineering system
    • Operating environment
    • Resource requirements
    • Primary useful function
    • Harmful effects
    Ideal result
    Restate the problem in terms of physical contradictionsThrough 39 parameters decide which parameter has to be changed• Search the contradiction matrix
    • Find a solution through 40 inventive principles
    Domb8• Functional analysis
    • Ideal final result
    • Resources
    • Locate the zone of conflict
    • Principles
    • Predictions
    • Effects
    Yes, but no details on how to do it
    Carvalho and Back4• Correctly formulate problems
    • Verify the system according to the laws of evolution
    • Find available resources
    • Find contradictions
    • List all system requirements
    • Analyze paired requirements
    • Engineering parameters
    • Inventive principles
    Mann15• Problem explorer
    • Function analysis
    • S-curve analysis
    • Ideal final result (IFR)

    • Contradictions
    • Trends
    • Su-field analysis
    • Trimming
    • Psychological inertia (PI) tools
    • IFR
    • Algorithm for inventive problem solving (ARIZ)

    • System operator
    • PI tools
    • Multi-criteria decision analysis
    • Pugh concept selection
    • Axiomatic design
    Rantanen and Domb20Tool-object• Contradictions
    • Resources
    • IFR
    • Inventive principles
    • Patterns of evolution
    Soderlin23• Situation analysis: How to find the problems (to solve with TRIZ)? What is the problem?
    • Getting acquainted
    • Function analysis
    • Setting the target: mini or maxi? The approach or which route to choose?
    Different routes and uses of TRIZ tools• IDEATE > SCREEN > IMPLEMENT > VERIFY
    • "Tricks," size-time-cost STC), many miniature men (MMM), trimming, etc. available in subsequent "route"
    Straker and Rawlinson25• Resources
    • Parameters
    • Benefits
    • Ideality
    • Evolution
    • Trends
    Ahmed1→ System → sub-system → component → function → parameter →40 principles or 76 solutionsTransform: solutions → usable formConvert: usable form → product/process/invention
    Changqing et al.5• 39 parameters
    • Altshuller's matrix
    • Su-field analysis
    • ARIZ
    • 76 standard solutions
    • Patterns of evolution
    • 40 inventive principles
    • Altshuller's matrix
    • 76 standard solutions
    • Effects and examples
    • ARIZ
    • 39 parameters
    • Altshuller's matrix
    • Su-field analysis
    • ARIZ
    • 76 standard solutions
    • Patterns of evolution
    Domb and Miller9Complete technical systemSystem operator
    Mann16• Self-asking questions
    • IFR
    • Contradictions
    • Function analysis
    • Trends
    • Trimming
    • Knowledge (patent)
    In this table, the use of "—" means that this aspect might not have been considered or specified.

    This shows substantial similarities, with most covering the stages of exploration, idea generation and evaluation. The following findings are highlighted.

    According to the reviewed literature on implementing TRIZ, most of these processes do not involve divergent and convergent thinking at each stage of the process. The processes indicate tools or methods to use but do not encourage practitioners to think broadly and then narrow their ideas to generate the most suitable outcomes.

    Some in the design profession may argue that using a step-by-step process will not work in producing competitive and creative outcomes. Evidence has shown, however, that a structured process is useful in generating creative ideas – using morphological analysis, for example.11 In addition, the idea of a structured process is also recommended by its effects. For example, Zaltman and Higie introduced a method of providing structured guideline called the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET).26 This technique employs a personal interview to elicit the metaphors, constructs and mental models that drive customers' thinking and behavior.

    A review of the literature shows that using a creative problem solving process is generally useful in generating solutions to design problems. The comparison, shown in Table 1, indicates that the CPS process has similarities with the design process which is performed phase-by-phase, but also explicitly involves using divergent and convergent thinking at each stage.

    The researchers examined existing TRIZ processes to see whether these processes have the same user advantages as the design process and the creative problem solving process or not. The findings are:

    Based on these findings, the researchers decided to develop a process to provide most of the advantages found through the literature reviews and comparisons.

    The BRIGHT Process

    The construction of a process incorporating TRIZ was based on helping designers better understand their design problems and more effectively solve these problems by using TRIZ. The researchers developed the BRIGHT process to provide designers guidance on which TRIZ tools could be used at each stage of the design process of their projects. BRIGHT is an acronym for six stages: (B)uild the needs; (R)efine the problems; (I)dentify the type of problem; (G)enerate ideas; (H)andle and modify ideas; (T)est and evaluate. (See Figure 4)

     Figure 4: The BRIGHT Process

    The BRIGHT process is a sequential and iterative process that enables designers to assess problems and solutions at any stage of the process. Table 3 shows the structure and characteristics of the BRIGHT process including the design intentions, design methods and the use of TRIZ tools to systematically and effectively solve problems and generate ideas. BRIGHT involves three additional steps in the design process. Normally designers know the traditional design process involves the stages of exploration (marketing), idea generation (creating) and evaluation (testing).The BRIGHT process not only includes these stages but also uses and emphasizes refining the problem, identifying the problem and handling and modifying ideas in the process.

     Table 3: The BRIGHT Process Stages Explored

    Rationale for the BRIGHT Process

    The reasons for emphasizing the three additional steps in the BRIGHT process to the traditional design process are:

    Using these three additional steps makes the BRIGHT process a more helpful, acceptable and systematic process to use with TRIZ. Using the symbols in Table 3 at each stage of the BRIGHT process should help designers or process users understand and remember what they should do and the direction(s) they should focus on.

    Implementation of BRIGHT

    The BRIGHT process encourages designers to think broadly (divergent thinking) and then narrow the possibilities (convergent thinking) at each stage and incorporate TRIZ tools and other creative techniques (such as brainstorming and the technique of asking "Why" five times).

    There are three methods for using the BRIGHT process, shown in Figure 5.

     Figure 5: Three Example Methods Using BRIGHT in a Design Project

    In a design project, designers can use one of these three methods to guide them – using TRIZ tools. It is important to emphasize that there is no strict rule to indicate which TRIZ tools to use or how to use them – this depends on an individual's preferences and experiences. The three methods are:

    1. A straightforward implementation of the six-stage BRIGHT process, going step-by-step to generate solutions.
    2. Encourages designers to ask questions (such as the following) to clarify which stage of the BRIGHT process to begin with.
    3. This method is similar to the first, but it is used at the end of each stage of the BRIGHT process to find out whether ideas have been generated. If the answer is "yes" designers can start to develop ideas further with the proper TRIZ tools (such as trends of evolution or IFR). If not, designers will have to continue to the next stage of the BRIGHT process to clarify and narrow their design focus, and to generate solutions to solve the problem.

    Benefits of Using the BRIGHT Process

    Incorporating the BRIGHT process into TRIZ is not intended to replace existing creative techniques and processes employed by designers and problem solvers. Using the BRIGHT process should help designers understand when to use TRIZ and which tools to use. Designers should not stop using techniques that they know and like – designers can use other techniques while using BRIGHT. For example, people might still use a survey or try out the product to help them explore design problems. It is suggested that, based on these methods, designers continue to use TRIZ tools to compare their results to see if they have missed any important design points or to add more value to their ideas. By using the iterative process, designers can go back to any stage of the BRIGHT process during the project – or at the end of the process if they identify more problems.

    BRIGHT uses a simple step-by-step process to encourage interest in TRIZ. By giving small tips and guidelines, BRIGHT could assist in making TRIZ more acceptable and easier to apply in a design project. There is no doubt that the way to introduce TRIZ through another process would cut down on its original power, but innovators have been trying to publicize TRIZ for many years.

    The three methods suggested for implementing BRIGHT are examples of how it can be integrated in a design project. As this process is flexible, designers can easily adapt it or extend the ways of using it in their design projects. Designers do not have to follow this process step-by-step if they have ideas about what to do in their design projects or if they have leads after running one or two steps of the BRIGHT process. They can jump past steps to test and evaluate their ideas. There is no strict policy that designers have to run each of the TRIZ tools suggested at each stage of the process. Designers can choose and use any of the TRIZ tools which they are familiar with or confident of. Sometimes designers may find that they could use just one or two TRIZ tools to help build the needs, refine the design problems and indentify the types of problems – using TRIZ tools is up to the designer's discretion and knowledge of TRIZ.

    Looking at TRIZ tools at each stage of the BRIGHT process, people may question the criteria for choosing them. The criteria for selecting these TRIZ tools were based on the understanding of these tools and personal experience. Using these tools does not mean this is the only way to use them. Some tools have characteristics of supporting the needs across different stages of the process. Once designers are more familiar with these tools, they might choose one or two tools to run through the whole process in conjunction with their knowledge and design skills.

    Some TRIZ experts, however, might argue the incorporation this kind of process into TRIZ will reduce the power of TRIZ. TRIZ is a powerful toolkit containing many different types of tools, which can be used to solve different design problems. Designers or engineers can look at the problems they are facing and choose a suitable TRIZ tool. In theory, this is an ideal situation for implementing TRIZ, but many TRIZ novices could struggle with such a significant amount of information and then lose confidence. It is necessary to have a simple and clear guideline or process to help understand which tools to use, when to use them and where to start using and implementing TRIZ in a particular design project.


    TRIZ has been heralded by practitioners and in academic literature, but an apparent disparity exists between the low reported industrial take-up of TRIZ and perceptions in the TRIZ community which indicate more widespread use. One of the main reasons for this is the perception that TRIZ is complicated and hard to use. For this reason, a procedure to be incorporated in association with TRIZ has been developed with the hope of making TRIZ easier to understand and use. The authors have reviewed TRIZ compared to a design process and other creative problem solving processes, and have shown differences in the emphasis on creative thinking and the use of iteration. The advantages of a procedure related to usability, creative thinking and iteration within the TRIZ environment has been recognized and addressed by the development of the new process, BRIGHT. The new process addresses: building the needs, refining the problem, identifying the type of problem, generating ideas, handling and modifying the resulting ideas, and testing and evaluating the ideas.


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    This paper was originally presented at the European TRIZ Association's TRIZ Future 2008 meeting in Enschede, NL.

    About the Authors:

    Shuo Kai Tsai undertook his DPhil at the University of Sussex, focused on using creative techniques in design. Contact Shuo-kai Tsai at s.k.tsai (at)

    Peter Childs is a professor of engineering design at Imperial College, London. Contact Peter R.N. Childs at p.childs (at)

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