TRIZ Forum:

How to nurture and develop innovative talent?

Toru Nakagawa (Osaka Gakuin Univ.)
Presented at a Panel Discussion of Malaysia TRIZ Conference 2012 on Nov. 8, 2012 at Penang, Malaysia 

Description: Dec. 9, 2012
Posted: Dec. 12, 2012
buttons guide you to the pages written in Japanese.

Editor's Note (Toru Nakagawa, Dec. 9, 2012)

This article contains my talk at a Panel Discussion session in MyTRIZ Conference 2012.  Please refer to the page of my participation report .  The Panel was coordinated by Professor Rosni Abdullah (Univ. Science Malaysia), and the panelists are Dr. Mark Barkan (MATRIZ President, and President of 'Education for New Era') and Dr. Anatoly Guin (TRIZ Master, 'Education for New Era' Russia) and myself.  Concerning to the topic, please see the title slide shown below.

Three questions were noticed to the panelists about a week before, and I made the slides just a few day before the panel discussion.  I wrote the description yesterday for better understanding.

My Keynote Lecture at MyTRIZ Con 2012 is also posted in a separate page .
"Creative Problem-Solving Methodologies TRIZ/USIT: Overview of My 15 Years in Research, Education, and Promotion"


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How to Nurture and Develop Innovative Talent?

Hello, everybody.  I am very happy to be invited to your active MyTRIZ Conference to give a Keynote Lecture and to be a panelist of this Panel Discussion session on Creativity Education. 

We have been given three questions in advance from the Coordinator of the Panel.  They are quite difficult & delicate questions to answer (especially in 3-5 minutes each).  Thus I prepared 5 slides, for conveying my thoughts to you even with my not-so-fluent English speaking.

Here are the three questions (see the slide, right).


(Q1) How to nurture and develop innovative talent?

Even though the question uses the word 'innovative' talent, I would rather like to rephrase it into 'creative' talent.  "Creative Person, Innovative Organization!" is our slogan of Japan TRIZ Symposium 2011. 

Before discussing on 'creativity' of a person, we should remember that the 'Power to create' = 'Creativity' × 'Continuing efforts' (see the slide below).  While discussing on creativity and education of creativity, we are apt to forget the latter factor.  The 'creativity' is defined here as 'Personal capability to make/think of something new and valuable', and is discussed further in the slide shown below.

I would like to discuss in a wide perspective, thus two more aspects are mentioned in the left of the figure:  Anything in any field, and at any age of life.  Then I have listed up various attitudes, minds, capabilities, and thinking styles, etc. in 21 items.  Some of them are close more or less and yet different delicately.  There are two attidudes in the list;an attitude to think for oneself and an attide to think deeply and persistently.  Minds to think, to overcome, and to create something new. Thinking styles, e.g. differently from others, out of the common sense.  Minds to persue new things and new values.  It is also related to the ability to have a vision for ideals and future.  Capabilities to think logically and yet to get new ideas and to insight intuitively.  And capabilities to try experiments and to make something out in reallity; this needs to be supported by the capability to lead and cooperate with others.

-- All these are the elements of creativity, I think.  Thus the ability to get a lot of new ideas unusual in a common sense is just a type of creative talent; there are many other different types to be creative and to be able to create something new and valuable.  Thus there are a lot of different ways to nurture and develop a creative talent.

(Q2) Where and when did you first develop your interest in innovation science?

I happend to encounter TRIZ in May 1997 at a seminar in Tokyo.  It was a one-day seminar held by MIT (USA) for a feedback to Japanese companies supporting MIT in contracts.  At that time I was a research manager of Fujitsu Labs in charge of relationships with some universities abroad, including MIT.  Dr. Matz Nordlund, a young researcher of MIT, gave a talk on TRIZ for 2 hours; he talked by using several (textbook) examples and illustrated the evolution of technical systems by showing many commercial products of combs for hair dressing.  I recognized the importance of TRIZ and started to learn it. 

earch Institute (MRI) started their promotion of TRIZ in Japan.  Thus I studied Altshuller's books in English, attended at seimnars in MRI, invited a professor for a seminar in Fujitsu Labs, practiced to use the Invention Machine's softwar tool, gave introductory talks at Fujitsu Labs., etc. 

Then in April 1998, I moved to Osaka Gakuin University as a professor in computer science.  I decided to make TRIZ my principal theme in research, education, and social promotion.  I studied TRIZ together with engineers gathering at the Users Group of MRI.  I started my Web site "TRIZ Home Page in Japan" on the university server for the purpose of promoting TRIZ. ... All my activities later on are explained in my Keynote Speech. 

I would like to talk about the background of my getting interested in TRIZ in 1997. 

Originally I was a researcher in physical chemistry at the University of Tokyo till the age of 39.  I received the orthodox education/training as a scientist.  I did experiments in high-resolution molecular spectroscopy and computer analysis to precisely determine molecular structures of simple 3-atomic molecules.  During last 5 years in chemistry department I spent much efforts, leading a voluntary group of people, to develop a general-purpose program for data analysis with nonlinear least-squares fitting. 

Then I moved to Fujitsu as a researcher at a basic research institute named IIAS-SIS.  Around 1983-85 I worked in the field of Software QC; I tried to diagnose software development projects by using the records of updates of source program modules.  I had chances of interviewing projects and working for the QC movement together with people in software development divisions.  Then I was  moved, step by step, towards a managing staff in the labs of Fujitsu.  I had experiences of promoting patent creation in the labs and establishing international cooperative relationships with university researchers abroad, etc.  I had chances of assisting the management of various research projects.  Thus I learned various research topics and obtained some knowledge in quite diverse fields, but at the same time I almost got lost my specialty.  I encountered TRIZ in such a situation, and decided to make it the topic of my own research.

As you see I have the background of science (chemistry and physics), experiments (chemical and physical), computers (software development), QC movements, patent promotion, research project management, education, etc.  All these background supported me to get involved in the research of TRIZ, as a new topic of my life work.  I also need to mention that the orthodox training to be a scientist and researcher, experiences of working in an industry, and experiences of being a teacher form the basis of my thinking style and of getting interested in 'innovation science' like TRIZ.  I now feel very happy to realize that all my careers, changing the fields and sometimes wondering around, are supporting me in working for TRIZ.  So I will keep working for TRIZ in research, education, and promotion as an Professor Emeritus as long as my health allows me.

(Q3) There has been talk about education system being a major limiter to creativity; will teaching structured approach limit the creativity of the future talent?

This is a delicate question to answer. 
(1) 'Education system' is different in different countries, not only in its formal institution but also in the practices of schools, teachers, and parents, etc.  Education in schools may have infuluences/effects on the students creativity in positive and also negative directions.  I will say in the first approximation that school education  in Japan, especially in the emphasis of current university entrance exams, are suppresing the growth of creativity in pupils and kids.  But the situations in some other countries may be better.  The most important factor may be the attitudes of schools, teachers, and parents to the pupil. 
(2) I do not fully understand what is meant by 'teaching structured approach' and by 'teaching non-structured approach'.  I would support to teach in a structured way.  A vast of knowledge can be understood well and become usable only when they are structured (i.e., categorized, systematized, logically arranged, etc.).  Limitations and demerits in teaching knowledge in a manner separated in disciplines are recognized and can be compensated with some auxiliary teaching. 

These points are further discussed below in two more slides:

The slide below is taken from my ETRIA TFC2012 presentation and shows a model of a person to learn and master TRIZ.  While growing from the childhood to student and to engineer, a person need to learn a lot of and a wide variety of subjects at schools and universities (as shown in the left part).  Intellectual curiosity is the basis for studying science and technology step by step and creativity in the childhood is also noticed to be the basis.  However, creativity is rather suppressed during the school education in Japan because of the emphasis of learing and memorizing 'correct things' in the textbooks (sometimes without understanding the reasons and logics) mostly for the purpose of university entrance examinations.  Thus in Japan, students of universities have to be educated at first to establish their proactive atittudes in the life and to master logical thinking.  Then later around the time of graduation, they should be trained to have a spirit as researchers, engineers, etc. for pursuing the truth, ideals, and values, etc.  Training of creative thinking and learning creative thinking methods (like TRIZ)  are applicable in such a stage to become researchers and engineers.  Thus overview of the model clearly shows the drawbacks of the school education (in Japan) for the growth of creative thinking.  Education in universities, graduate schools, and some industries serves to train the students to be creative (especially in the field of academic, technological, and social issues). 

However, the crucial issue is not the difference between school education and university education.  One can teach and, oppositely, suppress the creativity of students in any educational opportunities at schools, in universities, and in industries.  The slide below discusses on this point in detail.  During education there are a variety of opportunities for a pupil/student to think and do something (new, unexpected, conventional, stupid, ellegant, etc.).  In such a opportunity, the teacher (or the parents, classmates, neighbours, etc.) may respond positively or negatively (including neglectingly).  Some types of such responses may encourage the student's creativeness and some other types discourage.  The slide below lists up various opportunities of student's thinking and action especially in the type related to be/become creative in the sense discusses in (1).  Teacher's responses are categorized to be positive (Say YES) and negative (Say NO).  The  marks show typical cases of encouraging student's creativity in school, while the marks typical cases of discouraging.  Teaching a student to be creative or not is just the accumulation of positive and negative responses by the teacher (and parents and others) in various occasions for many years.  I feel the total effects are in the negative side in school education, while in the positive side in (good) universtiy education.  Teachers and parents should be thoughtful to encourage their students and children to be creative in various occasions in daily life.

I do not know much about educational approaches opposite to 'structured-teaching approach'.  I feel structuring the contents of teaching, including sttting up the curriculla and preparing for the materials to teach, are desirable and necessary.  There are some defect in the conventional structured approach, especially in forming interests in a narrow area of a disciplin.  Thus there is a need to widen the students' interests and to make the students had general knowledge and interests in science, technology, society, etc.  I would like to learn more how to widen the students interests.

(In my case as mentioned in (2), after becoming a scientist in a field, I had to move to be an industrial researcher in an engineering field, and to be a managing research staff in a wide variety of fields in technology.  This process certainly widened my fields of interest, taking about 30 years of sometimes happy and some other times unhappy days.  There can be much more effective process to widen the scope, but people often prefer deepening their scopes in their own fields to widening their scopes. )  


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