Theory of the resolution of invention-related tasks
TRIZ is a problem-solving, analysis and forecasting tool derived from the study of patterns of invention in the global patent literature. It was developed by the Soviet inventor and science fiction author Genrich Altshuller (1926-1998) and his colleagues, beginning in 1946. In English, the name is typically rendered as “the theory of inventive problem solving“, and occasionally goes by the English acronym TIPS.
Following Altshuller’s insight, the theory developed on a foundation of extensive research covering hundreds of thousands of inventions across many different fields to produce a method which defines generalizable patterns like inventive solutions and the distinguishing characteristics of the problems that these inventions have overcome.
The research has produced three primary findings:
1. Problems and solutions are repeated across industries and sciences;
2. Patterns of technical evolution are also repeated across industries and sciences;
3. The innovations used scientific effects outside the field in which they were developed.
TRIZ magnifique benefits
TRIZ practitioners apply all these findings to create and to improve products, services, and systems.
1. A professional differs from an amateur in the number of techniques he uses to achieve results — the more and more diverse the working toolkit, the better the outcome. Now I will tell you about the methodology that allows you to reduce the time needed to solve almost any task significantly.
2. Heinrich Altshuller invented this method back in the sixties. Now it is in service with companies such as Samsung and Apple. And its essence is straightforward. Before solving the problem, it is necessary to perform some intellectual exercises. As a result, you get into the zone of practical solutions. Solutions that allow you to achieve your goals while spending minimal resources.
3. The method consists of three steps: re-examine the task, find the benchmark, and identify the contradiction. All three levels are very simple. Let’s start with the first step.
4. When a task is set before you, in most cases, it is formulated incorrectly. For example, you get the mission “Write a report on the results of work.” To re-examine the task, you need to find the problem it solves. What problem does the report solve? There are a lot of options: management is worried about the distribution of funds, there is not enough data for decision-making, or you need to comply with corporate standards. Depending on the problem, the approach to the solution changes. A lot of text with facts and numbers is required to calm the management down. To make a decision, you need a short presentation with analytics and forecasts. To comply with the document management standards, you need to fill in a sample table.
5. If you do not overstep the task, there is a high risk of starting to act not in the direction of solving the problem, but in the course of the everyday actions – here is a mountain of text for you. Although, in reality, it required a small analyst with a forecast.
6. In general, according to the author of the method, TRIZ helps to cope with brain inertia, which is always directed towards formal and precise actions. Actions that, in most cases, are not the most effective.
7. After the task has been re-examined, one can proceed to the next step – the search for the standard of the solution. It is found in several ways. First, you can see how the task was solved earlier. In the case of the report, find the implementation of similar documents. This will show you the right way. It is also useful to spend half an hour on the Internet to see how other people in other conditions solved a similar task. At the same time, to find out what new reports do in the form of sites-lending, rather than presentations.
8. Secondly, you can use a magic wand. Imagine that one stroke can get the perfect result. The better to imagine, the faster it will be possible to implement it. Having concentrated on the finished result, instead of on the first steps, it is possible to find a short route of the decision.
9. The third way to set the benchmark is to ask the question “How can you solve the problem without doing anything? To solve the problem without making any efforts is the standard of the TRIZ solution. And very often such a solution is found. For example, a report can be delegated to another employee because he or she has more experience, or you can convince the management that a report on this topic is not needed, or you can find a ready-made report and just change the figures in it.
10. The third step of the methodology is to find a technical contradiction. It is not required in simple tasks. Having passed the two previous steps, you will already have an excellent route to the goal. However, there are tasks where you need an additional search for the best solution. Search for technical contradiction.
11. For example, you already know exactly what kind of report you need, but you don’t have time to prepare it. This is the technical contradiction: the story should be in a day, and it takes three days to make it. Finding a contradiction is already half the battle. The author of TRIZ has written more than 50 typical ways of overcoming technical inconsistencies. They touched upon engineering activity, but now one can find tables with thousands of approaches for entirely different fields on the Internet.
12. Examples of overcoming technical contradictions:
– Combine the elements of the system. By combining some sections of the report, we will save time in writing.
– Divide the system into several blocks. Having divided the story into two parts, we will prepare the first one for the day and the second one will be sent later.
– Make the processes parallel. Let several people work on one report.
– Change the aggregate state of the system parts. It seems that this item is difficult to use, but we can replace part of the text with a scheme or record a short interview with the workers who will tell you about the work done. Perhaps the management will be happy with this.
13. As you can see, there is nothing complicated in TRIZ: re-examine the task, find the standard, overcome the technical contradiction. Many solutions can be guessed intuitively. But sometimes we are tired, in stress or enter an unfamiliar sphere, and then the Theory of solving inventive problems can significantly affect the speed and quality of the result.