The 5th International Conference on Systematic
Innovation and the 4th Global Innovation Competition were held July 16-18, 2014, at the San Jose State University
in San Jose (Silicon Valley) California,
USA. This was a collaborative effort
under the leadership of the Society for Systematic Innovation and the University:
International visitors had a tour of the San
Francisco-San Jose area on Tuesday, then the program began with the tutorial
for beginners (presented by me, with help from Akhilesh Gulati and Tim Brewer)
on Wednesday morning. The program began Wednesday afternoon with welcomes from the sponsoring
Daniel Sheu welcomed us and gave a short history of the conference, and plan for
future—2015 in Hong Kong, and 2016 in Lisbon, so start thinking about papers
and projects now! This conference has
people from 17 countries with 65 papers and 7 countries with 25 projects. He presented his model of TRIZ as a subset of systematic innovation, and
systematic innovation as the essential system for future development.
“The Process of Innovation as a defining competitive
advantage” was the keynote speech presented by Curtis Carlson, CEO of SRI
International. SRI and Carlson personally have extensive
innovation history generating world-changing concepts AND spinning out
companies to develop and commercialize the concepts—everything from HD TV to
robotic surgery to Siri. He spoke
dramatically of the unlimited opportunities offered by the current emerging
technologies in biology/medicine and knowledge and information sciences, and
the frustrating contradiction of large parts of the population that cannot participate
in the opportunities because of lack of education. Carlson offered perspective based on SRI’s
work with government agencies and businesses of all sizes – he sees frequent
repetition of the patterns of failure because of lack of a process for innovation, starting with
understanding the customer and encompassing management/leadership skills and
value creation methods. He emphasized
that fast, deep learning requires doing, real-time feedback, multiple
representations, teams, tutors, and appropriate incentives, and gave great
examples of how they use these ideas to generate successful concepts in
education and government and business. Innovators
are rare people who can change the world!
“New Business-oriented applications in Advanced TRIZ” was
the second keynote, presented by Simon Litwin, based on his experiences with
businesses that need to go beyond classical TRIZ to solve their business
The first “tool” is a technology roadmap that
is multidimensional, showing options for improvement strategies (increase
market share, increase profit margin, …) and incorporating both the voice of
the customer and the “voice of the product” to discover latent main value
parameters. Technology scouting uses TRIZ-based function-based search to
understand the state of the art, why that can’t meet the needs, and what
enabling technologies would solve those problems.
Technology mining is more oriented to
acquisition of the technology company, rather than the transfer of the
technology itself as in the scouting phase.
Adjacent markets identification also depends
on the MPV analysis and uses a reverse form of the function-oriented search to
find industries that need the technology and could benefit from adopting it,
making it possible to license a technology to many different applications. Simon showed a successful case of the
modification of an impedance measurement originally used for measuring moisture
in cable insulation to do non-penetrating glucose measurement for
The last tool is the development of products
for emerging markets, where customers’ needs may be very different from in
established markets (large chewing gum size demonstrates prosperity!)
Simon’s concluding remarks called for the creation of
Smart R&D Labs to overcome the internal resistance to breakthrough products
that kill the vast majority of good ideas at various times in their
development. His final example of a
banana peeling machine charmed the audience, since it was fully implemented,
not just a concept.
Parallel sessions started after a short break. As frequent readers of these reports know, I
don’t try to be comprehensive—I only report on the papers that I hear. Since I was the chair of session A-1,
readers won’t hear about sessions A-2 and A-3, but are encouraged to read the
papers when they are published.
Su-Chen Huang presented “The
Challenge and Countermeasure of Apple App Store” including comparison with the
Google store and others, using Porter’s strategic model as an overall framework.
Tai-Chang Hsia presented “By Systematic Innovation
Techniques to Enhance the Quality of Rice Milling.” He started with a process review, risk
analysis of each process step, and identification of the factors that were the
most probable factors for poor milling.
Function modeling of proposed improvements of the process was used to
identify contradictions and find preventive methods for anticipated
problems. QFD was used to prioritize
areas to be improved. Specific
improvement strategies came from the 40 principles. The
company is now installing the recommended solutions—conclusions should be
available next year.
“TRIZ based Systematic approach of Problem Solving for
treatment process of screw manufacturing” by Tsai Jo Peng and Shih-Chuan Cheng
included a case study with unique (for this conference) use of Analytic
Hierarchy Process to understand the relative importance of requirements,
finding that non-polluting regulatory requirements are high-priorities. The AHP weightings were used in a Pugh-type
decision matrix. We look forward to
hearing about the implementation results!
I moved to session A-2 for “Computer Aided Innovation
from the perspective of the Main Bibliometric Laws” presented by Marco de
Carvalho, faculty advisor to the researcher, L.H.R. de Oliveira. Bibliometry is used to map the developments
in an area of knowledge to identify the main achievements and the gaps and
opportunities in the field.
Dave Conley's paper "TRIZ for Computing" emphasized that many people try to apply TRIZ to writing code, but that the TRIZ analysis of the system elements is much higher payoff--the code is just one subsystem element. Most software is part of a control system for a larger entity, and understanding the whole thing is essential for improvement. His example of an automatic braking system was appreciated by everyone who has ever driven a car!
Day 2 of the ICSI meeting at San Jose
State University kicked off with Professor Jay Lee from the University of
Cincinnati and the National Science Foundation presenting “Recent Advances and
Trends of Industrial Big Data and Smart Analytics for Product and Service
Innovation” based in part on his work with the 80+ companies in the National
Science Foundation (NSF) Industry/University Cooperative Research Center
(I/UCRC) on Intelligent Maintenance Systems.
He gave us a unique view of innovation in the logistics and maintenance
world, which has created the field of predictive maintenance, which may have a
lot of application in the world of human “maintenance” (medical technology.)
The rest of the morning was devoted to
Ed Sickafus’ special presentation on his Unified Structured Inventive Thinking
method. USIT is based on structured
analysis of the problem situation before problem solving, and the TRIZ/SI
audience appreciated how Ed had incorporated much new research on cognition and
brain function into the process of idea creation. “Adjust the heuristics of problem solving to
reduce logic” and to rely more on the
unconscious mind is a real challenge to this audience!
The afternoon started with two
parallel sessions. Igor Polkovnikov’s
paper “Abstract Flow and its presence in Problems” was a unique contribution to
the conference. He showed how to
consider the flow of anything (not just liquids and gases or electric current)
and the analogies to pressure, work, etc., in the formulation of a
Manqiao (Mandy) Liu presented “Team
Organizational Mode for Systematic Innovation and Improvement of Existing
Products” based on her work at the University of Virginia working with the
China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group. Key findings:
An innovation expert (either internal or external) can view the problem
from all directions, while the subject matter technology experts work from
their own points of view.
Innovation methods training may not be appreciated by people who aren’t
applying it immediately.
Communication is difficult at all times for multiple specialties, so a
trained communication coordinator is important. Roles and responsibilities in the team are
very well defined.
She showed a great video of innovation
in tunnel structure that resulted in extensive development of intellectual
property and immediate applications that restored environmental damage in
Herb Rhee reported “A New Paradigm for
Private Development Assistance (PDA):
Case study of university student volunteer work” based on a research
collaboration of E3empower in California and Ajou University in Korea. PDA differs from ODA (official development
assistance) by the emphasis on empowerment, rather than emphasis on
funding. Both models in the past have
had limited sustainability. In the new paradigm, students have TRIZ training
and other entrepreneurship training, then do projects in impoverished
areas. Solar lantern distribution in
Nepal was one of 5 projects, all of which demonstrate organizational/business
model innovation to make a sustainable model for improvement which will
continue after the students go home.
Tim Brewer presented our co-authored
paper “Using the System Operator and Complete Technical System TRIZ Tools to
Understand the Development of Crowdsourced and Crowdfunded Business
Models.” The audience was very
interested in the examples from Quirky and Kickstarter, and the predictions
about the continued evolution of the entrepreneurial business model.
The last session had research papers
in 3 rooms and the projects for the Global Innovation Competition in a 4th
room, making it even harder to decide what to see. Daniel Sheu’s project “Identification of
Solution Models by Function-Attribute Characteristics using Mathematical
Measures” stimulated considerable discussion of how trends are identified and
how the innovativeness of solutions are measured. This technique has great promise for quickly
generating ranked order solution candidates.
Youngmou Liu from Purdue University
presented “Definition of System Innovation Degree and its Measuring
Method.” They found that Altshuller’s 5
levels of innovation do not discriminate well between innovations that are in
the same category. They propose a
measure of innovation degree based on IPC (international patent classification)
that improves the definition of a product.
The authors propose that these definitions will be useful in decision
making for pathways of continuing improvement.
Daniel Sheu presented “Supersystem
Product Trimming Using Affinity and Dendrogram” which demonstrates a novel
approach, trimming in the supersystem rather than in the system level. The use of the affinity diagram to
establish functions (and attributes) that are related is a unique approach, and
the dendrogram provides a mathematical way to decide the candidates for
The banquet was a very nice
opportunity for the delegates to socialize, and to see some of the many photos
taken by the conference staff.
Day 3 opened with parallel
sessions. I heard the paper
“Integrated Systematic Problem Analysis and Solving Technique” presented by
Hsin Rau, which had some unique suggestions for structure, and good examples
using function analysis and contradictions and the Pugh matrix for finding best
candidate solutions, then doing “super-effect” analysis to find any potential
problems caused by the solution and eliminate them. A practical example from electronics
processing illustrated the system.
Paul Filmore generated considerable
discussion with “Discontinuous Improvement:
Continuing to Improve when Continuous Improvement Stalls.” His analysis is quite persuasive, but the
discussion focused on how to get the right people in the right companies to
Maria Lambrou of the University of the
Aegean reported on “Systematic Innovation Capabilities in Shipping: Validation of an established Innovation
Process Model” (and a 3-country collaboration of Greece, Japan, and
Australia.) The shipping industry has
some unique management/leadership structures that she showed are strongly
correlated with innovation attitudes. This is work in progress and we look forward
to future developments.
Langdon Morris had the challenge of
presenting the closing keynote. We were
an experimental audience for his talk about Agile Innovation—the theme being
that linear, stepwise innovation processes are not fast enough or smart enough
for the business needs of the fast-moving world we are in.
The main portion of the conference
concluded with an award session, recognizing the work of the organizers, and
honoring the winners of the project competition, and honoring excellent
papers. The conference website will
have the list soon—I wasn’t fast enough to capture all the names!
The post-conference tutorial by Simon
Litwin was very well attended. Simon
explained and demonstrated “Advanced
TRIZ Tools: Parallel Evolutionary Lines” which was very well received by the
audience, particularly TRIZ practioners who have found the patterns of
evolution to be useful but difficult to select and apply. Simon’s examples and his willingness to
answer questions were very much appreciated.
Remember: 2015 in Hong Kong and 2016 in Lisbon: start planning now to participate!