Thursday, March 19, 2009


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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