Wednesday, October 24, 2012


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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