Monday, March 30, 2009


TRIZ Video lessons

Rick Blauw has done a great job with 3-4 minute humorous TRIZ lessons. He has posted them on Youtube to make them more accessible, and also on Facebook for those who prefer that format. Please send him comments! Start with any one--they are all different styles.

Also, this was not intended as a TRIZ video, but it is a great example of resolution of a contradiction (suitable for Easter Week classes...)


Thursday, March 19, 2009


TRIZCON 2009 Day 1

TRIZCON 2009, the eleventh meeting of the Altshuller Institute, is going on this week in Canoga Park, California, where the primary sponsor for the event, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is located. About 75 people are involved in a variety of learning and discussion events.

Monday featured pre-conference tutorials by Zinovy Royzen, Sergei Ikovenko, and Isak Bukhman, and demonstrations by Invention Machine and Ideation International software companies. Tuesday started with an opening address by Altshuller Institute president Mansour Ashtiani, who gave an overview of the challenges of moving from business focus on productivity to a focus on innovation, and the many ways that TRIZ can accelerate the innovation process. Mansour led the group in a moment of silence to remember the many contributions of Wes Perusek, who died in February, and who had devoted many years to introducing TRIZ to children through schools and supplementary programs. Mansour then thanked the members of the board and the committees, and gave the attendees a brief view of the work of the Altshuller Institute, and concluded with the inspiring message that TRIZ will bring hope to people who need innovation to create the future.

The first keynote speaker was Herb Roberts from General Electric (and TRIZ Journal author and commentator!) “TRIZ at GE: Edison, Altshuller, and Imagination at Work” started with Herb’s note that GE is not noted for being willing to share their methods, but the benefits from TRIZ have come from other people sharing with them, so they are glad to reciprocate. Herb highlighted how the TRIZ propagation method in the research centers and in the energy business have differences, based on the needs of the employees and the kind of work they do, and that a wide variety of methods (personal, class, and project learning, for example) have all been successful. He sees the future challenge as innovating in business models as well as in technology and technical processes, and embedding innovation in the company-wide metric systems. The benefits of a small audience were immediately visible in a vigorous discussion of many of the points of Herb’s talk.

Kiho Sohn from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne introduced his colleague Jeff Jensen, Director of Business Development, to present the second keynote lecture, “Accelerating Innovation,” which is a foundation of the 2018 project to add $4Billion(US) to the company—15% compounded growth, which is “unheard of” for an aerospace company. Jeff’s major theme is “Innovation is converting ideas into revenue.” He had many lessons for the TRIZCON group from P&W’s experiences, complementary to Herb’s talk. He emphasized that the creative people need to understand the customer needs and the business needs (size of market, speed of deployment, future potential) at considerable depth, in addition to understanding the technical challenges. Current research emphasizes developing collaboration processes and communication systems so that everyone is operating with appropriate information. The benchmarking research was of considerable interest to the audience—companies as diverse as Procter & Gamble and the Mayo Clinic had common trends, such as executive leadership, and differences in implementation tactics (central vs. dispersed research, protected research environments, etc.) Information systems, such as wikis, are emerging in usefulness for collaboration and communication, to make the innovation process faster and more focused.

Mansour Ashtiani chaired a large panel discussion—Sergei Ikovenko, Alla Zusman, Zinovy Royzen, Isak Bukhman, Noel Leon, Jim Todhunter, Leonid Chechurin (tomorrow’s keynote speaker, from the St. Petersburg State Polytechnical University) and I were asked to comment on the present global and local knowledge of TRIZ and adoption of TRIZ, driving forces, roadblocks, the role of TRIZ-related software, and suggestions for the Altshuller Institute’s role in advancing TRIZ.

For the track sessions, I’ll report on the papers that I heard personally. Of course, as in the past, we thank the Altshuller Institute and the authors for agreeing to let us publish a sample of the best papers in the TRIZ Journal!

Track 1 got an excellent start with “The Function Modeling method for New Product Development” by Young-Ju Kang (a TRIZ Journal author) from Hyundai, which has made great strides in TRIZ adoption and in application of TRIZ in areas as diverse as cost reduction, patent circumvention, system improvement, technology forecasting/new product development, and the personal level of improving engineers’ creativity. Kang showed that the present modeling methods are based on the present system functions, and that a more comprehensive system is needed to encompass the needs of those who are creating the future of the system. The function modeling system popularized in axiomatic design has proven very useful for TRIZ modeling as well. Kang’s examples from injection molding, photography, and data storage were excellent illustrations of how his modification of the function model makes it easy to develop the definition of the TRIZ problem.

Two excellent papers kicked off the afternoon session: Noel Leon’s work using TRIZ to develop a Stirling engine powered car, and John Cooke and Darrell Mann’s paper showing two ways to solve the same problem (un-stacking aluminum sheets) using ARIZ and systematic innovation. I hope that we’ll have both papers for the TJ soon, so that readers won’t suffer my problem of choosing! Noel gave an extremely useful review of solar technology and means of storing solar heat to operate the Stirling and Stirling-Brayton engine. The morphological matrix was used to explore families of options for the design approach, using direct solar energy to avoid all the problems of fuel storage and fuel combustion.

Sergei Ikovenko devoted his paper to the “Trend of Increasing Coordination.” He included the history of the use of the trends in the development of TRIZ and the recent emergence of the trends from previous use as guiding concepts to the current use as direct problem solving heuristics. The trend of increasing coordination is a branch of the trend tree, a sub-trend to the trend of increasing value, and the trend of s-curve evolution, and is superior to the trends of increasing controllability and the trend of increasing dynamicity (this is called the St. Petersburg model.) Sergei guided the audience through the arguments that a “survivable” system is the most economical system, which is the one that uses the fewest resources, which can do that under multiple circumstances if it is dynamic, which requires control. Sergei presented the 4 sub-trends (coordination of shape, rhythm, materials, and actions) with a variety of examples and levels of detail for each. One surprise to some in the audience was Sergei’s dual-direction approach—if the useful approach is (for example) point/line/surface/volume, then to remove a harmful effect try going from volume to surface, surface to line, etc., which he illustrated with the classical pizza box and fishing equipment examples.

Jean-Marc LeLann from the University of Toulouse presented a variant on the use of the contradiction matrix, specifically tailored to problems with multiple contradictions. A topical case study—simultaneously eliminating tars and ashes as byproducts of biomass fuel generation—illustrated the complexity of typical real problems. Both the classical (Altshuller) matrix and Mann’s Matrix 2003 were used to explore the contradictions. The principles were applied as in the single matrix, and in a segmented way, applying them at a different level of abstraction from the original presentation. Both of these tactics dramatically increased the umber of “hits”—suggestions from the matrix that replicated the solution of historical innovative problems, or new solutions that were outside the previous research of the team. We had some discussion of how the Toulouse group will validate this method.

Jim Belfiore’s presentation “Using TRIZ to Drive Basic Research” was a strong conclusion to the day. He introduced the cultural problems of the ways that research is done in different parts of the world, and the frequently contradictory problem of the expectations that are levied on the TRIZ students (Adult ADD? Do in-depth analysis without spending any time, on situations where you have only superficial knowledge?) I am a great admirer of Jim’s work, so I was somewhat distressed by his emphasis on the bad experiences that are a result of bad teaching, bad deployment, bad managements and mismatches between roles and responsibilities—but then he used this introduction to discuss the transition to ubiquitous information, and the accompanying sloppiness of much research. Jim ended on a positive note with examples of improved research techniques based on TRIZ-themed contradiction thinking and systems thinking.

Day 1 concluded with a very sociable dinner.


TRIZCON2009 day 2

The day opened with a short business meeting of the Altshuller Institute. Isak Bukhman was elected Vice President and Don Coates was elected Secretary. Mansour Ashtiani continues as President and Richard Langevin continued as Treasurer and executive director.

Noel Leon announced the Computer Aided Innovation meeting in Harbin, China, in August and the 4th IberoAmerican Innovation Congress in Chile in November, and urged the Altshuller Institute members to participate and to help propagate the invitation.

Victor Fey presented the work that he and the certification committee have been doing for several years to create a system of certification. Readers of this column know that I have tremendous admiration for all their hard work, but considerable disagreement about certification systems—not about the details, but about the usefulness and appropriateness of having one at all (this IS a personal report!) Details will be posted on the Altshuller Institute website with a target of May 2009. The system will start within a year after all the documents are posted.

The second day keynote by Leonid Chechurin from the Institute of Innovatics at St. Petersburg State Polytechnical University brought us much new information on the state of TRIZ in modern Russia. The Institute for Innovatics was organized in 1998. They have 300 students and 30 faculty in 5 departments. They work with innovation theory, quality systems, management of innovation projects, investment engineering, and technology of complex innovations. There are now 50 universities with Innovatics departments, and the 82 hour TRIZ program pioneered at St. Petersburg is part of the curriculum for all of them. Leonid gave us a very impressive tour of the state of the study of innovation world-wide, as well as at St. Petersburg. His insights on the difficulties of putting TRIZ into universities were appreciated by the audience—he quoted from Gaetano Cascini’s research on the publications of TRIZ-related work in academic journals (and I anticipate an excellent collaboration from this!) He also announced plans for an international Student TRIZ Olympics starting in 2010 and a series of university-university and university-industry events.

Alla Zusman’s presentation “Producing TRIZ Solutions: Odds of Success” opened track 2. Alla used both historical examples (machining a very long blade) and modern examples (the curved shower curtain bar for the hotel bathroom) to demonstrate her current research (with Boris Zlotin) on the objective probabilities of TRIZ success for problems at different stages of the S-curve of system development. Revealing secondary problems, then using TRIZ to overcome the secondary problems is an important step in the process. Unveiling “hidden” resources at the micro-level in a problem is another important step. Alla suggested that ARIZ, particularly the Smart Little People tool, can be very useful for revealing the resources, and particularly to keep the emphasis on avoiding new complexity and avoiding degradation of the original function. Her work shows that the probability of success increases in this order:
Resources previously hidden by psychological inertia
Unutilized resources on micro-level found
New Enabling technology utilized
Hybridization of the given system with another one designed for a similar purpose
An alternative way to obtain desired results within the same paradigm has been found.
But if none of these are available, the only way to move forward is to look for the next generation of the system. Alla concluded with very strong findings that real problem solving requires solving the secondary problems as well as the initial problem, and that training cases that ignore practical implementation issues will have negative impact—people will be convinced that TRIZ is not practical.

I enjoyed giving my presentation “Learning TRIZ is not Teaching TRIZ” to a very participative audience. The paper is already published at since it is part of a series in which I plan to gather teaching methods for a variety of TRIZ elements, to see if we (TRIZ teachers) can help each other make it easier for people to learn TRIZ. If you start using the model in the article, e-mail your results, please!

John Terninko’s paper “Implementation Improved by Considering Values and Beliefs: How Can We Improve our Solution Concepts?” primarily used the value system model developed by Clare Graves. John explained the system to the audience, then showed them what their own value profiles are (many participants contributed their own data yesterday) and some research by others on national profiles. He then extended the model to show how mismatches of value systems can be a significant barrier for the acceptance of both the TRIZ methodology and the implementation of TRIZ solutions in problem solving applications.

Phil Samuel’s “The Paradox of Enabling and Limiting Structures of TRIZ” used a different, cognition-based model for human behavior. The orthogonality of level of learning and style of learning was particularly fascinating to the audience.

John Cooke concluded the conference with “How to have your cake and eat it too!” He analyzed the whole library of TRIZ methods in terms of effort to use and tool value (defined as benefit / investment.) and showed us some clear segmentation of the tools into clusters—conclusions about which tools either need to be higher value, or lower investment, or less effort to use (or all!) I’ll be very interested in learning more about his analysis and his conclusions, but (tyranny of time at conferences) had to be elsewhere.

Pictures of speakers and of some of the group discussions will be posted on the Altshuller Institute website next week,

I encourage readers to start planning now for future travels—there are definite advantages, even in these days of 7 TRIZ-related LinkedIn groups and 2 Google Groups and E-mail listservers and Facebook and and and…to people meeting people face-to-face and learning something together. You have lots of choices—China in August, Japan in September, Europe and IberoAmerica in November, Taiwan Cross-Straits in January…start planning now!

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