Friday, October 08, 2010


TRIZCON and National Innovation Conference, mid-Day 2

Kas Kasravi from Hewlett-Packard showed TRIZ applications in information technology services, a growing (but non-traditional) area for TRIZ applications. The world market size may be US$131 billion within 3 years.

They apply TRIZ to both specific problems and to "next big thing" type investigations. Good news is that in 20 projects, participants said that they had new ideas in every case. The "next big thing" cases focused on the future of the IT service business, using the 9 laws of technology evolution for the analysis.

The exciting prediction is that current patch-work systems (onshore, offshore, etc.) will be replaced by a new business model of eShoring (which they have trademarked) that will both deliver services by automated, self-learning/self-correcting systems.

Kasravi then showed a second, somewhat parallel case examining the future of business intelligence; the audience joined in the discussion of the role of trust and the development of legal theory of liability for the systems to be adopted. Kas reported that the BI community was also quickly engaged in this discussion.

He then demonstrated the other class of problem solving with a case from a beverage company that wants to make its IT system easier to use AND more secure. They learned that the problem was not technology, it was in the management/IT organization relationship, and successful solutions were generated in a 2-day workshop.

A more traditional problem was the reduction of excessive CPU cycles and costs. After 8 months of unsuccessful conventional problem solving, 15 hours of TRIZ analysis found the fundamental problem and solutions that were beneficial to both supplier and customer (new business and a patent and avoidance of a threatened lawsuit!)


Alla Zusman and Boris Zlotin led us through history and current practice in the use of TRIZ to solve secondary problems, and the reasons that this application has been buried in the various teaching methods. They demonstrated the use of network diagrams ("Life is not simple" per Alla) to examine secondary, tertiary, and other problems created by solutions to the primary problem.

Examples of assembly of a magnetic circuit breaker and of centrifugal separation of materials in a chemical reaction were used to show various aspects of formulation and solution of secondary problems.  The conclusion for both the practice of TRIZ and teaching TRIZ was to not let secondary problems cause good primary solutions to be rejected.


TRIZCON and National Innovation Conference, morning Day 2

TRIZCON 2010 and the National Innovation Conference Day 2 opened with brief remarks by sponsor Bart Barthelemy of the Wright Brothers Institute, challenging all the participants to learn multiple innovation systems to take advantage of the opportunities that surround us.

Opening speaker Steve Shapiro "chief innovation evangelist" of Innocentive emphasized that innovation is about rapid, repeated, dynamic change, not about specific events. Organizations have "problems, challenges, and opportunities." We talk about diversity but we practice homogeneity - people who talk the same way and think the same way, things work quickly. It is great for efficiency but bad for creativity. The audience was a bit uncomfortable with his equating corporate cultures to cults, but he made the point quite well throughout the talk.

He had the un-politically-popular position that crowds may be good at generating ideas but they are really bad at determining value, and voting systems are particularly bad because they can be easily manipulated. Both the TRIZ and non-TRIZ sides of the audience developed appreciation for his emphasis on problem definition and scope, and creating challenges that are self-managing (the contributors evaluate their own contributions, rather than creating a giant mess of evaluation.) Two failure modes to watch out for: eliminating good ideas because the evaluators don't have context-sensitive knowledge, and letting good ideas whither because no one has ownership/accountability for the success of the implementation.

Quote from Steve Jobs: "Creativity is having enough dots to connect." and Steve Shapiro added, "we need to become masterful at connecting those dots."

The conference then returned to tracks: I'll report on the papers that I saw. Good news for readers: the Altshuller Institute will be posting all the papers (not limited to members) shortly after the conference.

Bryan Pollard from Intel showed us a new perspective:

- No problem is too small for TRIZ: micro-innovation

- TRIZ can generate solutions that beat industry experts

Bryan demonstrated problem reformulation using a semiconductor processing problem, starting with a great tutorial on semiconductor processing, so that the non-semiconductor audience could participate.The function model and the problem definition were iterated to get the reformulated problem definition, and the case study dramatically illustrated the benefit of investing the time in a good problem definition. Thanks to Bryan Pollard and to Intel for presenting a real case!

My paper on teaching TRIZ by leaving the classroom was next - I used the paper to kick-off discussion with the participants. The paper will be published in the TRIZ Journal and the Altshuller Institute proceedings, so I won't put any detail here.  (to be continued)

Thursday, October 07, 2010


TRIZCON and National Innovation Conference, more, better afternoon day 1

Wayne Fisher's premise (based on 20 years of observation at Procter & Gamble) is "Innovation is a Team Sport." P&G's growth strategy is "touching and improving more consumers' lives in more parts of the world, more completely." and innovation is DOING it.

His keys to innovation are people, process, and place; and he shared some of his experiences developing the space for teamwork in a product development center.

He now works in "the GYM" which is a physical space and a group of facilitators, designed to help other people within the company to enhance innovation (more than 400 workshops a year!) Wayne showed us a phenomenal array of projects--ranging from reducing the cost and improving the lifetime of existing products to finding new product applications for technology discoveries.

Wayne's case study comparing training/deployment/company benefit of Design of Experiments to TRIZ (the study was done for an IMC user group meeting in 1998, that I actually remember!) Discussion throughout the room focussed on the sphere of influence (DoE success because researchers do experiments anyhow, so changing that is easy, TRIZ generated ideas that were outside the influence of the people generating the ideas.) The entire conference audience joined in exploring this; Ralph Czerepinski's suggestion that DoE gives instant gratification and TRIZ creates ideas that require lots of work got big applause!

Concluding remarks:

-Teams out-perform individuals, always

-Know your individual style and use tools to overcome gaps

-Processes don't stifle creative people; they create the "space" for them to succeed.

Emily Riley of the Wright Brothers Institute introduced David Shahady of the Air Force Research Labs. He said that AFRL is a very large "company" that is looking for innovation that is sustained over long periods of time, in supportof the Air Force mission of fly, fight, and win in air, space, and cyberspace. AFRL has 40 locations world-wide with a variety of time-scales, ranging from 30+ years to this week and this month.

Shahady tries to overcome the "buzz word" innovation problem by limiting the use to putting new ideas into practice - - he made good use of the story of Swan vs. Edison in the history of the lightbulb.

AFRL intentionally fosters innovation through understanding motivation, toolboxes, social/technical networking, benchmarking commercial m.ethods and adapting them to military needs (and venture capital methods, too--how's that for innovative?)

Shahady's focus in this presentation is the AFRL's design challenge competition, which has unambiguous results, since the participants compete in a battlefield envionment to find out which solution to the problem is best. The commercial participants seemed to envy this evaluation method! Competion between university groups, service academies, and Air Force commands follow the same format.

Competitive spirit is important, but using problems that are significant and complex ("wicked" in complexity-talk) is very important. Counter-intuitively, he said that unreasonable time limits and friction in the team are important, too. More expected was the importance of realistic environments for the tests, and the benefits of finding people to recruit for future work. After 5 years, they have increased the expectations for the challenges from developing ideas in the education system to generating ideas that can go directly into development (yes, and refinement) for real field application.  Personally, as a taxpayer, I have great appreciation for both his creativity and his enthusiasm. 


TRIZCON and National Innovation Conference, afternoon day 1

The audience got very engaged in Tim Basadur's "Flight to Creativity." (Yes, son of Min Basadur, but an innovation contributor on his own, too.) His "Why teamwork is often uncreative and time consuming" chart started lots of conversations.  His equations for meetings are

Results = Content + Process + Tools + Style

C = K x I x E (Creativity is the product of knowledge, imagination, and evaluation)

Discussion: there may also be a multiplying factor for interest in the problem and motivation to work on it. One factor their research has uncovered is the importance of a person's knowledge-gaining style: (do you prefer direct experience or abstract thinking?) and knowledge-using style (do you use knowledge for evaluating options or for creating options?) Combining these give 4 process styles, and understanding the styles can make teams much more effective. Interesting that this research applied in graduate schools (MBA study teams) and in industry--people were happier working with others who have the same style, but more creative working with mixed styles.


TRIZCON and National Innovation Conference, late morning day 1

Deborah Westphal from Toffler Associates asked us to take a trip to 50,000 feet to see global innovation. She set a high bar: challenge our thinking about the future of innovation, broaden our perspectives, and learn from what we are doing, specifically looking at product innovation.

Her definition of the revolutionary nature of change got us to look back at transitions between the agrarian economy to the industrial economy to our knowledge economy to benefit from differences and from similiarities with previous changes. I predict that her metric of "cost - per - idea - transferred" will be useful in a lot of ways.

So far, a persistent theme of the conference is hybridization, and Deborah's version of this is "it is all about the AND" - - medicine AND robotics, people AND technology, technology AND culture. I'm not sure I agree with her claim that university multidisciplinary programs will advance this trend (maybe it follows the trend?) Likewise I question her emphasis on countries' innovation initiatives, but her questions got a lot of discussion started.

I'll be the first after - lunch speaker in the Innovation & Creativity program, talking about the relationships between TRIZ and many of the other innovation systems/tools/methods. Either send an e-mail or put a note in the "comments" column if you want the presentation.


Peripatetic Learning: TRIZ and Innovation

What a week for learning!   The Business Innovation Conference near Chicago has become a "must do" item on my annual calendar, and TRIZCON, which had become somewhat un-thrilling in recent years, has been revived by joining with the National Innovation Conference for multiple perspectives.   See or commentary sections for reports by me and Jorge Oliviers Teixera on the Business Innovation Conference.    I'm going to experiment at TRIZCON/NIC with semi-live blogging - - let me know if you're reading along.
Congratulations to the board of the Altshuller Institute for accepting the initiative of Zennovate and the Wright Brothers Institute to co-produce TRIZCON with the National Innovation Conference. While I am a
regular participant in TRIZCON, both for learning new things about TRIZ and for seeing many friends, it
was an equal delight to meet many new people (estimate: 40 TRIZ and 80 non-TRIZ attendees) who had
no previous exposure to TRIZ, and to learn about their non-TRIZ innovation endeavors.

Mansour Ashtiani, President of the Altshuller Institute, briefly welcomed everyone and gave a short
overview of the activities in the world-wide TRIZ community. Jeffrey Davis, MD, Director of Space Life
Sciences at NASA presented the first plenary session, surprising those of us who did not know how
extensive NASA's use of open innovation has become - - everything from keeping food packaging fresh in
space to an algorithm for predicting solar flares. More than 1300 people/teams in 65 countries worked
on recent challenges. (See my Commentary from July for other thoughts on open innovation, and how TRIZ can improve the systems now being used.) He had considerable guidance for the audience about how to decide which projects should be done conventionally (grants to universities or industry, or NASA's own laboratories) and which will benefit from world community participation, and lessons learned about how to formulate the challenge problems. No surprise to the TRIZ community how many of their "lessons" involve using functional definitions to improve the problem statements! Findings about where the responses come from are useful to know where to target outreach activities for other forms of research (material science for food packaging in Russia, algorithms in France, etc., as examples) A new challenge for an algorithm reorganize the medical kit for spacecraft is getting lots of response. Davis had some very interesting speculation that I'll look forward to hearing more about:

1. "Breaking" the competitive model and creating a collaborative model, or possibly creating collaborations among the winning ideas in the competitive phase,

2. Unexpected intangible benefits in the joy that the public expressed at working on real space exploration problems.

The conference was organized with 3 parallel tracks, and I will report on the sessions that I was in. See the full program at and click "TRIZCON 2010" Jack Hipple did the beginner TRIZ tutorial for the rest of the day, bringing examples from many fields of application. The advanced track was shared by Isak Bukhman, presenting ARIZ, Zinovy Royzen demonstrating "Conflict Solving Using TOP - TRIZ" and Sergei Ikovenko with his fascinating approach to "Competitive Patent Circumvention."

I spent most of my time in the non-TRIZ track (National Innovation Conference). Steve Goubeaux got the
audience very involved in "Exploring the Future of New Product Development." based on his experience
with multiple industries (everything from bicycles to juvenile furniture to lawn and garden products, to
Cre8ive Dayton which is an "experience" not a building...) and marketing/branding for everything from airlines to toys to the country of Colombia. "What is easy; how is hard" is a key point. Steve had examples and challenges f,or the audience on the need to design for the senses and emotions of the user as well as the logic of the user. Design generation 2 at the same time as generation 1 (and more than half the time launch "2" and forget "1")  Mansour Ashtiani pointed out that this is the pattern of increasing ideality, and Steve agreed to learn more about TRIZ.   (to be continued)

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