Introduction to TRIZ – Theory of Inventory Problem Solving
Whilst everyone is aware of the need for organisations to become more innovative and creative, very little will come of this unless people have the skills to innovate. Whilst some innovations do result from gifted people or by flashes of insight, these are really quite rare.
The good news is that with TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving), a powerful methodology founded by a Russian scientist, anyone can be innovative and creative. The underlying concept of TRIZ is that innovation and creativity can result from logical processes through a systematic approach.
TRIZ is rapidly gaining popularity as a powerful methodology for enhancing innovation and creativity inside corporate environments. Research and development teams, product developers, manufacturers and service businesses alike are finding TRIZ to be a powerful tool for solving practical problems and building new technologies in their business
TRIZ (pronounced “treez”) is the Russian acronym for Theory of Inventive Problem Solving. It was founded in 1946 by a Russian engineer and scientist, Genrich Altshuller who worked in the patent department of the Soviet Navy. His primary responsibility was to assist inventors in filing patents but because he was a gifted inventor he was often asked for help in solving problems encountered during the innovation process. He analyzed over 400,000 patents from different fields of engineering.
Altshuller studied those patents with the most effective solutions. His empirical studies revealed objective laws, or trends, in the evolution of technical systems. From these he formulated his main postulate: the evolution of engineering systems is not a random process, but obeys certain laws. From these laws Altshuller formulated his eight Patterns of Evolution of technical systems. These patterns can be utilized for conscious system development, including problem solving. He classified these patterns into a generic list of 40 inventive principles known as the TRIZ 40 principles.
Realizing that an innovation represents a fundamental change to a technological system, and is therefore subject to analysis, Altshuller turned his attention to the patent fund, screening over 200,000 patents from all over the world. He identified 40,000 patents that constituted “inventive” achievements, and began a rigorous analysis of these.
The results of his efforts formed the theoretical basis of TRIZ and laid the groundwork for the problem-solving tools that would later be developed. As the TRIZ methodology grew over the next four decades, the patent research continued; by the mid 1980s over 2 million patents had been investigated.
The three primary findings of this research are as follows:
1. Problems and solutions were repeated across industries and sciences
2. Patterns of technical evolution were repeated across industries and sciences.
3. Innovations used scientific effects outside the field where they were developed
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