Wednesday, September 01, 2010


Why Play TRIZ Games?

Those of you who are following my Tweets @ellendomb, and those of you who read the TRIZ Journal and earlier issues of this blog know that I frequently show a creative idea (usually technology/product, but occasionally a business system or methodology) then speculate on which of the TRIZ techniques could have been used to create the idea. I also use this method in classes, having the participants identify significant ideas in their areas of expertise, then speculate on the TRIZ techniques that could have created them. Examples of 2 recent Twitter postings:

Fighting deadly parasitic infections with UV Good example of #TRIZ principles 28 (use fields) &32 (change optical properties)

#TRIZ example Both management and technology. I see principles 16, 17, 1, and trimming/increasing ideality. Yours?

I have been accused of “cheating” - - these ideas did not come from TRIZ (as far as I know) so why use them as TRIZ examples? Studying significant new ideas, looking for patterns of new ideas, is the research method that was used to develop TRIZ, and continuing to study new inventions, both business systems and technical products, will tell us whether TRIZ is flexible enough to work in new areas of application, or whether TRIZ itself needs to be modified/expanded. See the book Matrix 2010 by Darrell Mann for an example of modifying some of the TRIZ tools for changing times.

Regardless of whether you are interested in doing TRIZ research or in learning TRIZ methods, examining examples and asking yourself “what is interesting about this concept, and which TRIZ elements are demonstrated?” can be educational. Of course, if you find a new principle or pattern (not just a new example of an existing pattern) we’ll all be interested!

TRIZ includes a small number of basic principles and a large number of tools, techniques, and methods. The numerology alone is daunting to new students:

40 principles of inventive problem solving, frequently referred to by number or short titles. See for the list and for examples from business, technology, quality, health care, sales, etc.

4 (or 9 or 11 depending on which book you read) separation principles. Referred to by names. Example:

76 standard solutions (but really 85 since one of them has 9 parts.) Usually referred to by names. for part 1, then one article per month for the next 5 months

8 or 11 or 38 patterns of evolution and 300 or more lines of evolution (again, depending on your preferred author.) Some names vary because of translations or author preferences, but this is not usually a problem.

Because TRIZ was developed by many people in multiple locations over long periods of time (1946-85 and 1985-present) it is not surprising to find duplication in the tools and nomenclature. For example, the idea of segmentation (divide something into parts, and if it is already in parts, divide them into smaller parts) is seen principle 1 of the 40 principles, in the pattern of evolution called either “transition to the micro-system” or “segmentation” and in Standard Solution 2.2.2. “change to a micro-system.” My advice is not to worry about nomenclature, but to use these exercises to practice recognizing the concepts of TRIZ and what about the example is (or isn’t!) TRIZ-like, then reflect on your own work to see if those particular concepts can be applied to what you are doing.

Many other TRIZ teachers have collected examples. CREAX has an excellent collection (although I disagree with many of the labels they use) in their newsletter

As always, I welcome comments on this suggestion, and on any of the individual examples as they are posted.

If you prefer a textbook to looking up all the articles, start with Simplified TRIZ by K. Rantanen and E. Domb available from book sites and electronically from, or with our new e-learning system at

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