Friday, October 26, 2012


ETRIA TRIZ Futures Conference, Lisbon Day 3

Day 3 of the ETRIA TRIZFutures Conference started with a keynote address by Luis Estevez of the Amorim Group, Portugal’s (and the world’s) largest cork producer. He gave the TRIZ audience his view of Kaizen Management and the Continuous Improvement Roadmap. The idea of a 9 year “production” cycle for a natural product put our thinking onto a different scale from the usual factory or university project.

Andrew Martin’s title “Brewing Free Beer” drew an enthusiastic audience to his presentation on the development of Oxford Creativity’s free-to-use TRIZ “effects” database using ideality. Most readers will be anxious to use the database at Andrew’s story of how they decided what NOT to include was charming, but buried beneath the charm was a very focused goal of making the information available to TRIZ users who themselves would do the real research on each of the effects before using it in their research.

Lilly Haines-Gadd brought some classical psychological research into the industrial environment in her project “Does TRIZ change people? Evaluating the impact of TRIZ training within an organization.” No surprise that people who had been trained had higher levels of idea suggestion, but the low level of creative thinking skills was the same with and without training was somewhat surprising. Motivation and self-efficacy appear to be the driving elements, whereas skill is the enabling element. This was confirmed by the very high correlation between advanced training and the improvement in idea generation, but rather low correlation with beginner level training—the beginners had skills but lacked confidence. (Lilly studied an organization which had been trained by another company, not hers, to try to avoid bias about how the classes had been structured and taught.) The audience shared experiences with a variety of methods of measuring creativity and associated pitfalls.

Marco A. de Carvalho traveled from Brazil to present his paper on methodology and software for new product ideation . He started by reviewing both internal and external techniques for us, and the research on the the of use of the various methods. Marco contended that the external bias shown in the data is not justified by market success or by analysis of the ideas. Conversely, directly using internal resources (for example by means of TRIZ heuristics) there is a strong probability of ignoring market forces. To avoid that trap, he proposes that only the heuristics that are associated with value (customer-perceived value, which is a whole different issuei!) be used, not the full set. By re-defining value as Functions/Connections he establishes criteria for both generating ideas and for evaluating them. The approach was compared to trends of evolution and to conventional brainstorming: This system produced >50% creative and useful ideas, vs 30% for trends of evolution and 20% for brainstorming. A second level was with case studies, with qualitative assessment of the method by industrial participants in a variety of companies and product areas. The software system is a support tool for gathering and evaluating the candidate ideas. We are looking forward to more case examples next year!

The last session started with “How TRIZ beginners can find and solve inventive problems with 5 simple tools” by Sara Saliminamin and Mahmoud Karimi. As TRIZ has become more and more popular in Iran, they have found it necessary to help beginners get started very quickly, with great success, so that the beginners will keep themselves engaged and motivated. They had impressive photos of TRIZ on television, the local TRIZ association meeting, TRIZ in the Ministry of Education, etc. They reviewed their method of explaining TRIZ tools for their students.

Final paper of the meeting is “Technological innovation of a steam iron” by Erik Rojas, experimenting both with TRIZ and with a multinational (California& New York in US, and Besancon in France, with engineering, marketing and artistic members.) QFD structures were used to define the functions and attributes of the system, which related very directly to the contradiction matrix formalism of TRIZ. They explored numerous phenomena such as magnetic levitation and inductive heating and geometrical variants for lower friction and easier handling. He recommended additional study of the appliance industry, and strong combination with QFD for customer sensitivity.

A brief ceremony was held with sincere thanks to the organizers and the university and staff for all their hard work. Some people adjourned to the ETRIA business meeting and some to tour Lisbon, and all repeatedly said “next year in Paris.”

Thursday, October 25, 2012


ETRIA TRIZ Futures Conference Lisbon Day 2

The Day 2 keynote by Prof. Pierre Collet from Strasbourg University was designed to challenge the TRIZ audience by showing us what is happening in the fast-moving, creative world of computer-generated engineering (yes, the computer as the creator!) He took us quickly through the history of (electronic) computing, showing the experiments that were done with evolutionary simulations as early as 1953. Now, “AE” = artificial evolution and is used widely in industry—everything from calculating train schedules to optimizing diamond cutting. (Frequent readers will remember the work of Prof. Noel Leon and his students, applying AE algorithms and TRIZ problem solving to the generation of walking/hopping transport devices, reported at both the Iberoamerican Innovation Congress and the Computer-aided Innovation meetings, 2008-10)

Collet chose a real-world example: how to evolve French crepes to get the best possible recipe, and showed us how the bio-concepts of random variation and of crossing of good variants can be very efficient generators of creative options. (Not so clear how the “best” solutions are chosen if the result is truly unique.) He also showed how this system could create an omlette, not a crepe, quite easily, if the variant on egg/flour ratio goes to an extreme.

A more technical world example was the NASA ST-5 mission, using 3 micro-satellites (tiny computers, tiny batteries, tiny solar cells…) but how do they send data back to earth? A nice TRIZ contradiction: powerful, unfocused or weak, highly focused antennas. 3 weeks of computation “Evolved” an antenna design –the original 10 meter package was smaller than 2 cm. Prof. Collet charmed the audience with the story, showing how minor changes in the mission requirements could not be met by minor changes in the antenna—a full new evolutionary simulation was required for each design. Our classical design paradigm found it embarrassing that they could not explain the designs, but the antennas were flown quite successfully.

He concluded by showing some of the massively parallel technology now available in Strasbourg very cheaply, and the wide variety of design projects that can be tried using AE. There will be much follow-up discussion of the TRIZ-AE interactions.

The first paper in the scientific technical session is “Substance Field Analysis and Biological Functions” presented by Sara Greenberg . (Reminder: I report on my experience at the conference, so except for the keynote sessions, at least half the papers won’t get mentioned! ) The aim of using su-field analysis was to develop a language that could be used for both biological and technical systems. The analysis uses conventional Su-Field analysis and constructions, with the differences becoming obvious when they aggregate the biological structures that accomplish the same functions.

I jumped to the practioner session for “Systematic innovation in enabling hybrid based preventive maintenance” by Nagappan Annamalai from Intel Malaysia. Key to the successful use of TRIZ is the comprehensive analysis of the system, including statistical designed experiments to understand and validate the cause-effect relationships within the system. Dramatic savings resulted from resolution of the contradictions by switching from schedule-driven to usage-driven PM, but management had a lot of concerns (maybe due to past history of non-scheduled maintenance?) Further application of the contradiction resolution tools resulted in a hybrid PM system , using both schedule and volume triggers. Preliminary results: 40% reduction in headcount, spares savings US$millions (exact number not specified), schedule improved by 75%.

“Identification and realization of innovation potentials at a drum brake using WOIS and TRIZ methods” presented by K. Hiltmann, showing a case that local industry FTE Automotive had asked the university students to solve. They use VDI 2220, a structured design process—one weakness is that it starts with a “problem.” WOIS starts with a need for innovation, which is a broader challenge, looking at strategy, market, target, customer, and system to decide if there is a project opportunity. The students had a very real world experience: the client said don’t make any changes. The full analysis of the squeaking cause/effect chain showed the opportunity for a very elegant TRIZ solution—same geometry, same material , same supersystem, but the conduction of the sound is disrupted by use of a 2-layer structure

I missed the gossip during the coffee break-the Samsung team is preparing for their “TRIZ Festival” next week and wanted to interview me. I’m not sure what benefit I can give to people who are already using TRIZ so much, but I sent them my advice about how to improve TRIZ and my good wishes for their festival.

Karen Gadd’s story of the implementation of TRIZ in BAE Systems (100,000 people, global) over the period 1998-now captivated the audience. Straight-forward training, pilot projects, etc., have evolved into a self-sustaining system that uses humor seriously as a teaching/learning method. Anticipated benefits were the standard TRIZ list (solve difficult problems!, take advantage of people’s natural creativity!) but the unanticipated list (everyone speak the same language, solves management problems, fun, happy & productive teams) has been the key to the acceptance of TRIZ throughout the company. Use TRIZ to propagate TRIZ: using the resources already present in BAE, such as the life cycle management system, the education portals, the case study libraries, and the growing cadre of enthusiasts. Karen spoke frankly about culture issues, and the need to avoid “gatekeepers” and non-TRIZ facilitators who try to limit and simplify the system. Her very real world learning (and BAE’s willingness to tell the story) were appreciated by all 3 ETRIA audiences—academic, industrial, and consulting.

Val Souchkov presented the “Function Value Map” after explaining that it is different from the tool he usually teaches-he is presenting on behalf of his colleagues Ives de Sanger and Kim Rutten. He reminded us that historically TRIZ had strong roots in manufacturing troubleshooting, and that developing this tool for process modeling is returning from the product phase to the process phase of TRIZ evolution. It is similar to Su-field modeling, with emphasis on critical activities defined as specific verbs, time studies and the financial impacts of the time and resources. This map has been very effective for explaining the opportunities for improvement (and TRIZ) to people who have had discomfort with their processes but not enough specific knowledge to move ahead.

Petr Shimukovich tried an innovative approach to presenting his paper “New method for TRIZ contradictions” – an English-language recording of the paper was played, while he managed the slides, then the questions. We’ll see what the audience thinks. The method examines 10 aspects of a system, then has a series of algorithms, such as a series of changes to the system requirements, which create opportunities for improvement. Shimukovich has extensive lists of the types of transformation that can be used to satisfy the requirements of each of these changes.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Next year’s conference will be in France, in Paris, at ParisTech, hosted by TRIZ France. Laboratoire Conception de Produits et Innovation.

Afternoon program:  Keynote speaker for the afternoon program is Denis Alves Coelho, professor at Universidade da Beira Interior of Portugal, speaking on TRIZ and Human Factors and Ergonomics. He explained the current focus of HFE as cognitive work, Production processes (automation and globalization) and product design (being taken over by crowd sourcing.) Ergonomics enters the refinement phase of the design, when the moderators become the detail level designers. Likewise in the production phase, both HFE and TRIZ are needed to get from the concept to the implementation. Denis explored the simplest applications of the 40 principles to validate the idea of interlacing the two disciplines, and suggested the need for a collection of case studies to explore the overlap further.

Achille Souli from Strasbourg presented “A lexico-syntactic pattern matching method to extract IDM-TRIZ knowledge from on-line patent databases” using natural language processing. Historically, engineers have ignored important data from the patent databases because extracting it is time-consuming (and expensive if they need expert help or facilitation) and subject to error because of bad or confusing information in some of the patents. The approach proposed uses both super-marker and polyvalent markers, which are both nouns and verbs with very specific characteristics, which are used to split text in ways that can then be re-formulated as a graph. The geometrical properties of the graph are then interpreted. Achille concluded by telling us about additional research on TRIZ terminology, and inviting conference participants (and our readers) to comment on the work at

In the short paper section I was able to hear part of Olga Bogatyreva’s paper on a TRIZ-based algorithm for biomimetic design. Her main theme was that with a proper theory, projects would be much easier and therefore cost less and have less risk. Lack of a common language for engineers and biologists is a significant roadblock to the development of the theory and methodology.

Fons Sweeger from Philips showed us “Revealing end-user driven insights using TRIZ tools.” There is a methodology called “End-user driven innovation” (not surprising, but new to me that it is a structured methodology.) He coupled this with the trends of evolution to show from the customers’ point of view what some probably next steps are. His “trend of sinning” – laziness, vanity, greed – got a lot of audience interest and started discussion of many different overlapping trends and analysis methods.

Pavel Livitov & Olga Livitova (far right in picture) introduced us to “The Principle of Feeling” and the history  of conflict between the systematic/logical generation of ideas using TRIZ with the intuitive, non-systematic decision making and implementation processes. The TRIZ audience had very mixed feelings about their method: learn to feel, not think. Accept feelings as data. They introduced “systemic constellations” which is a map made of living people representing a situation, and the assumption that the elements of the system will find their own solution (using themselves as resources!) Pavel gave us a TRIZ example, a projector that overheats. 50+ideas were generated using TRIZ. Then people were assigned roles in the systemic constellation, and the group waited for something to happen. For example, the LCD says “I feel uncomfortable if I am too close to the Lens” and then says “I ask the light source not to look directly at me.” We had a very good time with 5 heroic volunteers who enacted the feelings of a jar of strawberry jam, and the lid, and the seal, and the label, as they expressed their feelings about their relationships. (See photo, taken in dark conference room--man on left is the jar, next left is the jam, then seal, etc.)

The afternoon ended with Gaetano Cascini’s paper on” ARIZ85 and patent-driven Knowledge Support.” He started by identifying design methods driven by problems, by information, by solutions, or by knowledge. Ongoing research has been on information retrieval and information extraction, but not explicitly for the support of the problem solving process. ARIZ 85 has steps which request information both explicity and implicitly, from patents and from other sources, and there are steps where new information is potentially useful even if not requested. Detailed analysis of which steps of ARIZ are supported and which are not has been conducted, and exploratory tests with students. The students developed 100 search strategies, of which 10 were successful. He concluded by calling for research to develop robust algorithms and coordinating the research that is now going on in a very un-coordinated way.

An innovation in ETRIA organization—tonight there is an extra social event, a bus trip to hear Fado, the unique Portuguese singing. Thanks to the organizing committee for arranging it so that the visitors can appreciate this music/art in the busy schedule of the conference! See ETRIA’s Facebook page for photos—I plan to relax and enjoy the singing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


ETRIA TRIZ Future Conference, Day 1, Afternoon & Evening

Darin Moreira Anthony Vincent from Malaysia Intel kicked off the afternoon practioner session with a beautifully detailed case study of the removal of laser mark hardcoding, an error that cost more than US$2 million per year company wide. It is a particular problem for plants like his, with a very high volume of a large number of different products. The project team used lean principles to model the process and discover the processes that were subject to non-standard practices. They then used function analysis and trimming in TRIZ, to eliminate the possible opportunities for the improper processes.

“Using TRIZ to invent failures – concept and application to go beyond traditional FMEA” was presented as a combination of tutorial and methodology, introducing TRIZ professionals to the extensive formality of FMEA, then adding AFD to FMEA to generate candidate failures for mitigation.

Francesco Frillici from Florence presented the integration of OTSM TRIZ with AHP (Analytic Hierarchy Process) for choosing the “right” solution to a problem. Defying the history of both methods, he also set a requirement that the system must be easy to learn, easy to use, and not time-consuming. For orientation on AHP, see Francesco presented a case study on a removing the wires from a clothes steamer, to make it easier to use, comparing several solutions using AHP and other methods, and evaluating the results by means of comparison of experts’ opinions. AHP was not the easiest, but was the most reliable method. Audience comments suggested that Pugh selection, with the option of hybridizing options as well as selecting, might be a stronger method.

A second paper from the same group followed: “Product Architecture: evaluating the potentiality of TRIZ tools, “ presented by Lorenzo Fiorinesche. Unfortunately I don’t know enough about structured design methodology to summarize these papers—maybe after a few more years of listening I can do an intelligent commentary.

Tiziano Montecchi from U. Bergamo presented “Knowledge based approach for formulating TRIZ contradictions.” He uses OTSM vocabulary, and a very structured method to define the physical contradiction.

In the parallel session I heard part of Thomas Nagel’s presentation on “OTSM TRIZ Application for an Interoperable Pantograph” (device that conduct power from overhead cables to systems, and can do it for different dimensions in different countries.) This is a comprehensive study, originally part of a masters project from INSA in France, which included analysis of patterns of evolution, alternate technologies, and multiple problem solving options. Because of my fascination with both the technology and the TRIZ case study, I missed Daniel Scheu’s explanation of his trimming methodology, which got a lot of favorable comment, since it has both a structured theory of the order of trimming steps, and valuable practical examples.
The consensus on the buses was that this was a very long day (some people flew 17 hours from Korea, 18 hours from China…). We got a few minutes to relax at the hotels, then went to a Portuguese style dinner (vegetable soup, cod, potatoes, 2 kinds of wine, and of course fruit and multiple kinds of pastry) and a lot of good gossip. And we’ll do more tomorrow!

Pictures?   ETRIA members usually post lots to their Facebook page.


TRIZ Futures Conference, Lisbon: Day 1 morning

The European TRIZ Association’s TRIZ Futures Conference 2012 starts today, Oct. 24, in Lisbon, Portugal, with 82 delegates from 24 countries on all continents (well, except Antarctica) and many different areas of application of TRIZ—theoretical, practical applications, teaching methods, etc. There are multiple sessions throughout the conference. This blog is my personal report on the sessions I participate in. For the full program see

The conference opened with tutorials by Val Souchkov, introducing TRIZ to newcomers, and Olga and Nikolay Bogateyreva, on biological systems in the TRIZ context. Olga and Nikolay start by saying that we need theory because case studies can’t be general enough, but their case studies are fascinating to a non-biologist. One example: a tree is a pump that lifts 20 buckets of water the height of a 5-story building every day, for several hundred (even several thousand !) years, self-repairing and self-maintaining. A mule works every day for 60 years. Insects create elaborate polymers from the available resources for special purposes in each life phase.

How to use biological phenomena in engineering design? Nikolay did a charming job of challenging the audience to ask whether the need is for an object, the function of the object, the result of the function, or even the illusion of the function? The analogy of interpretation in language extends easily to the applications of biology in engineering/technology; interpretation requires vocabulary and grammar and context and cultural knowledge. They use an entertaining and instructional set of toys to illustrate these points, and show how the interpretation of bio-effects can be grossly different from the copying of bio-technology, and still be highly effective in other fields.

The tutorials were followed by the official opening ceremony, fortunately brief, with thanks to the organizers V. Cruz Machado and Helena Navas, and to Nova University, and to the cities of Lisbon and Almada.

Keynote speaker Sergei Ikovenko engaged the group with a Simpsons cartoon on bad inventing, to introduce his talk “Where does TRIZ start?” focusing on the migration from classical TRIZ to modern TRIZ, from emphasis on solving the problem to emphasis on practical, significant solution to “the right problem.” He challenged us to use the TRIZ system to understand the development and propagation of TRIZ. S-curve analysis says that we are at the stage of double competition, and should leave the “lab” and find a niche that will strongly appreciate what TRIZ has to offer. It is valid and useful to use in many fields, but Sergei recommends using it in engineering until it is much stronger and fully established. The analogy for double competition: puppies competing among themselves inside their box, not knowing that the first ones to leave the box will need to compete with the grown dogs who live in the bigger world.

What does the future hold for TRIZ? Sergei thinks there is a strong trend toward parametric TRIZ, using mathematical models for problem description, and for automation (maybe semi-automation) of full problem solving.

The group split into 3 parallel sessions. The practioner session featured Iouri Belski’s paper on the development of the portable crash barrier in Singapore as an illustration of TRIZ, addressing questions of why the original design was so similar to others (design fixation, detrimental effects of expertise on creativity) and what happened when the experts used TRIZ.

The second paper in the session was my own, with Timothy Brewer, on the application of TRIZ to problems in corporate social responsibility. Very few delegates had heard of ISO26000, but many had some familiarity with issues of sustainability, and we generated quite a bit of lunchtime talk about how TRIZ can be the problem solving system for complex business-social-technical problems.

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