of Inventive Thinking
– Introduction to the Course of “Development of Inventive Thinking” According to the SIT
Manor (Regba, Israel)
Regba Communications (Editor: Peretz Manor), Dec. 6, 2000
courtesy of the author, posted here on Oct. , 2002]
[Also posted in Japanese, translated by Toru Nakagawa, on Oct. 1, 2002]
Editor's Note (Toru Nakagawa, Sept. 27, 2002)
This material was brought to me via email from Mr. Peretz Manor, Israel, on June 3, 2002. Referencing to Nakagawa's USIT paper presented at TRIZCON2002, he wrote "I read it, and I like it" in the message. Among a few more materials, I noticed this article with much interest. This article was originally circulated in "Regba Communications" for which Mr. Manor serves as the Editor. (Regba is the name of a village in the northern part of Israel.) The article is a part of the introduction to the Course of "Development of Inventive Thinking", which is based on the SIT method and organized by Open University, Israel.
The SIT method, i.e. Structured Inventive Thinking, was developed in Israel by simplifying TRIZ. The present article clearly describes SIT's principal idea: "Inventive thinking is not diffused thinking with randumness but, on the contrary, concentrated thinking under certain constraints." This principle descriminates TRIZ from conventional (Western) 'creativity' techniques, and further developed into SIT in Israel. The principle was stated and proved in Horowitz and Maimon (1997), and is explained here in a way easy to understand. The idea was also adopted by Ed Sickafus in developing USIT.
Nakagawa sent an e-mail reply and asked for a permission of translating this article into Japanese and of posting its English and Japanese versions in this Web site. Immediately the permission was given, but due to my tight schedule I could translate it only late July and is going to post it in October. The present Editor expresses his sincere thanks to the author for permitting this valuable article reposted in this site both in English and in Japanese.Author: Mr. Peretz Manor (Regba, Israel), Email: email@example.com http://www.etgarim.co.il/sit ( in Hebrew)
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Regba Communications Editor: Peretz Manor (B.Sc.) © 6/12/2000
to “Development of Inventive Thinking” According to the SIT
(SIT – Structured Inventive Thinking)
The article describes the basic principles of the inventive thinking system that was developed at “Tafnit”, Open University ISRAEL.
The Principles of Inventive Thinking
The term “inventive solution” is at the center of the theory of inventive thinking. An inventive solution is original, simple, elegant, surprising and interesting. Increasing the ability to come up with inventive solutions is likely to provide an organization with a significant relative advantage, especially at a period when the accepted tools for creating such an advantage (such as ownership of knowledge, a financial lever, high-level manpower, etc.) are no longer effective, since they are available to all.
Two types of solutions can be discerned in every area requiring problem solving: conventional solutions and inventive solutions. One of the significant differences between the two types of solution is that whereas the way in which conventional solutions are reached is structured and can be reconstructed (optimization, analogy, etc.), there is confusion as to how an inventive solution is reached. The process of invention is usually described in vague terms such as “sudden inspiration”, “flash of brilliance”, or “an outburst of creativity”. Although these descriptions may accurately describe the inventor’s feeling when coming up with the solution, they have no practical use, as the inventive process cannot be reconstructed in order to solve other problems in the future.
The search for a creative solution can be exciting and highly challenging. An organization which encourages an atmosphere of searching for creative solutions creates a fertile work environment. In order to encourage the formation of such an environment, the organization must provide its people with the tools that will enable them to consciously choose the more creative option. The call to “be creative” and brainstorming sessions are not enough. A free atmosphere that encourages unconventional ideas is also important. However, without solid tools to provide support throughout the inventive process, there will be original ideas, but with no guarantee of their quality. The implementation of the inventive thinking system will guarantee the quality of the solutions.
Despite the great interest in creativity, research on the subject began relatively late, because of the belief that creativity, by its very nature, is not a subject worthy of scientific study. This belief is derived from the great creators themselves. They stated that creativity was given to them from on high. Some of them even considered themselves as intermediaries between the higher powers and humanity. This approach has changed in the last thirty years and today creativity is a legitimate subject of study in cognitive psychology and other fields like artificial intelligence and even specific content fields like engineering, advertising, science, etc.
The first studies on creativity determined that the ability to come up with creative ideas is bound up in the ability to come up with a large number of ideas, from which the best are chosen. An intentional thinking process for obtaining a large number of ideas is called “diffused thinking”. As a result of the research, creativity tests were even developed, in which the examinees were required to propose a large number of solutions to a certain problem. A classical example of such a test is to find multiple uses for a specific object.
Techniques for increasing creativity that are derived from diffused thinking are, to a great extent, based on a component of randomness. This is easy to prove, because if quantity is the important factor, then ideas can be aroused in random ways. Another principal component of these systems is the idea of “postponement of judgment” – judgement on the ideas raised must be postponed until all the ideas have been raised. Brainstorming, forced analogies, lateral thinking and morphological analysis are only some of the systems based on the assumption that creativity is connected to quantity. By the way, most of the workshops for increasing creativity known today rely on these systems.
An examination of the established techniques of diffused thinking shows that they are not effective in many cases. Research has proven that participants in brainstorming sessions tend to group thinking (with most of the team following the ideas of the natural leader), and that the postponement of judgment does not raise the creative quality of these ideas, but rather hampers them. On the other hand, it has been found that advance judgment, uniquely, can increase creativity. The technique of random discovery did not have a better fate. It was proven that the random analogies simply don’t aid in coming up with original ideas. It also appears that especially creative scientists contended that concentrated (and not diffuse) thinking more correctly describes their thought process.
In recent years, with the advance of research, we have learned that creativity is not connected to the ability to come up with a large number of ideas. An examination of the thinking processes of particularly creative people has shown that they progress systematically and intentionally to the goals they have set themselves. These people examine an extremely small number of possible solutions and it appears that their ability to direct their thinking process to the desired channel is the result of their ability to foresee and define the necessary qualities of a creative solution in advance.
A system of finding creative solutions that coincides with research findings was recently developed by the Open University. “Inventive Thinking” is a constructed system for directing problem solvers to finding creative solutions. As opposed to what might be expected, the system does not encourage imagination and free associations, nor does it release the person from thinking bonds. The opposite is true. The system forces limitations on the problem solver, which he would not do on his own initiative. These limitations lead him in the direction of the creative solution. If while searching for a solution the problem solver encounters difficulty in making progress (which occurs frequently, because the system makes the problem more difficult), the system provides him with thinking tools (tactics), which help him overcome this.
The inventive thinking system violates the principle of postponement of judgment, which is one of the bases of the classical systems. Clear criteria for examining the direction of the target solution are provided by the system at the initial stages of solving the problem, so that unsuitable possibilities are judged as such and are discarded. The criteria, it must be pointed out, are not based on assessing how good the solution is, as this is impossible to predict in the early stages, but on an assessment of the probability that the solution will be unique and interesting, i.e. an inventive solution.
The term creativity is usually applied to three factors: a creative person, a creative process and a creative result. These terms emphasize an additional aspect of the inventive thinking system. While other systems work directly on the person (for example – the creation of a comfortable work environment and a suitable frame of mind for creativity), or on the process (for example the attempt to drill diffuse thinking), the inventive thinking process concentrates on the creative result. The problem solver using the system’s principles determines what characteristics are required to make the solution creative. This is, of course, before he knows what the solution will be. So, inventive thinking instructs the problem solver about what to think and not how to think.
The inventive thinking system is based on principles developed by the Jewish Russian scientist, Genrich Altschuler, who wanted to develop a thinking framework that would help arrive at unconventional solutions, and did not accept the concept of randomness. After studying five hundred thousand unconventional/inventive solutions and comparing them to the situation existing before the discovery of the solution, he reached the following conclusions:
1) Inventive solutions are based on overcoming contradictions (requirements that cannot, ostensibly, exist together in the solution).
2) Inventive solutions are based on a finite number of methods (= thinking tools, tactics) for overcoming the contradictions.
3) It is possible to find agreement between the different types of contradictions and arrive at the effective tactics to overcome them.
Altschuler’s student, Genady Falkovski, brought Altschuler’s ideas to Israel. Genady found a position at the Open University and continued to develop Altschuler’s system. The work of Genady Falkovski and those who followed in his footsteps, Dr. Yaakov Goldenberg, Dr. Roni Horowitz and Dr. Gidi Gilda made Altschuler’s original system more effective, simpler and easier to learn. At the beginning, the system was used to solve technological problems, but with the advance in research it became clear that the ideas on which the system is based are universal and can help in finding creative solutions in a variety of fields.
In recent years the Open University has opened a new course on “Inventive Thinking in Marketing and Advertising”. Up to the present two doctoral theses have been written on the subject of inventive/creative thinking in the Faculty of Engineering at Tel Aviv University and the Faculty of Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “The Development of Inventive Thinking” is an academic course in the fourth year in the Faculty of Engineering at Tel Aviv University. The course is also offered at the Weizman Institute as one of the optional courses for Masters and Doctoral students and in the Faculty of Business Administration and Marketing at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
As opposed to other frameworks for the study of
creativity, inventive thinking has achieved a respectable position in the
About the Author:
Peretz Manor – Graduated in Mechanical Engineering from the Technion Israel Technological Institute of Israel, consultant and designer for communications systems and the application of the SIT Method in industry. Graduate of Basic and Advanced courses in Structured Inventive Thinking. Responsible for managing, marketing and content design for these courses which are held under the auspices of Tafnit – the Open University, at Moshav Shitufi Regba, ISRAEL.
Responses to: 972-50-223000; E-mail = firstname.lastname@example.org
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Last updated on Oct. 1, 2002. Access point: Editor: email@example.com