TRIZ Forum:  Communication
How to Learn/Teach TRIZ 
 -- A Personal View on Savransky's Book
Kalevi Rantanen (TRIZ OY, Finland)
  Originally published in TRIZ Journal, Dec. 2000
    [Re-posted here on Dec. 13, 2000 under permission]

Editor's Note  (Toru Nakagawa, Dec. 13, 2000)

This article by Kalevi Rantanen was originally published in the December issue of the TRIZ Journal.  It is posted as a supplement to Ellen Domb's review on the new book "Engineering of Creativity" authored by Semyon D. Savransky.   Reading Rantanen's article, I was much impressed with his experience and his view on how to teach TRIZ, especially “concepts vs. heuristics and instruments”.  So I asked him and TRIZ Journal to allow me to translate his article into Japanese and post it in this Web site.  We are grateful that Mr. Kalevi Rantanen and TRIZ Journal give the permission of translating and posting in Japanese and of re-posting the original English article.  In this page, Rantanen's article is re-posted together with the correspondenses between Nakagawa, Rantanen, and Domb.  For readers' convenience, the table of contents of Savransky's book is shown at the end of this page.
top of this page Rantanen's article From Nakagawa From Rantanen Table of Contents of Savransky's book TRIZ Journal  Savransky's Web site Japanese page


A Personal View on Savranskys Book

By Kalevi Rantanen
Brahenk. 9 E 18
phone/fax +358 2 251 1623
mobile +358 50 548 7834

Semyon D. Savranskys new book Engineering of Creativity (Boca Raton 2000. CRC Press) covers in its 19 chapters and nearly 400 pages many concepts and tools of TRIZ.  Instead to write a comprehensive review I rather would like to concentrate attention to a few points that I consider most important.

Let´s make first three quotations from the book:

I would like to write with bold capital letters the words:
The statement is more important than it may seem at first glance.  We have accumulated in Finland much experience on the problem “concepts vs. heuristics and instruments”.  In 1980s were conducted many workshops, usually of 5 days total in class-room, plus home-work.  The main content of these workshops was ARIZ.  Su-Field models were another important item.  Concepts of contradiction, resources, ideal final result and patterns of evolution were considered shortly, as an introduction to main topics.  Clearly the most important were “heuristics and instruments”, concepts followed in second order.  One should add that at that time abbreviations TRIZ - a theory, and ARIZ - a step-by-step guide, were often used nearly as synonyms.

In winter 1999-2000 I interviewed participants of these courses I have conducted more than 10 years ago. I asked which things from the contents of the courses they have used. The answers were as follows:

  • Most useful and most often used were the models of contradiction, ideal solution and resources
  • Some participants named patterns of evolution as important and useful tools
  • No one used ARIZ
  • Su-Field drawings were rejected, they gave clearly negative feed-back
  • The result was rather surprising, compared with common views on training in industry.  Engineers, practical people by heart, clearly preferred theoretical and scientific concepts to ready “heuristics and instruments”.  The participants who had internalized some kind a scheme “contradiction - resources - ideal final result”, had got best results.

    This surprise got a convincing explanation when we analyzed results using the achievements of Activity Theory (AT).  AT is a disciple studying human activity.  One of findings of this school is that people need compact models, visions, or orienting bases, to understand, use, evaluate, develop and apply any subject matter.

    Experience on 1990s, for example attempts to “go to TRIZ” via TRIZ-based software or Altshullers matrix, only confirmed above mentioned results.  Both customer feedback and theory implicated the same conclusions.  It became necessary to turn the subject matter of TRIZ upside down so that a basic theoretical model took clearly the first place before different tools, step-by-step guides and job plans.  A totally new TRIZ workshop was developed and successfully tested in the beginning of the year 2000.  A new textbook, exercise book and teachers guide were written.

    After this work I got Savranskys book.  I saw that the book reflects the same trend: more emphasis on the basic concepts.  Chapter 2 gives TRIZ Overview, and chapter 3 considers the technical system.  Contradictions, Ideality, Substance-Field Resources, Evolution of Technique are studied in chapters 4-7.  After that follows detailed information of different tools and heuristics.

    The structure of the book may seem self-evident hindsight, but the comparison with earlier literature shows the rather long and sometimes painful change.  In Altshullers most famous book - Creativity as an Exact Science - are chapters like “Principles of S-Field Analysis”, “Tactics of Invention”, “Talented thought”, “Forty Basic Methods”, and others.  Contradictions and other basic concepts are considered in sub-chapters and numerous remarks all over the book.  The last book of Altshuller on TRIZ, “To Find an Idea” (not published in English), contains chapters of evolution patterns and ideality, after the critics of other methodologies, the study of different system levels, nine-screen model and other items.  His work in general contains much - historically inevitable - “carelessness of genius”.  Central and most valuable things are often buried under numerous ideas, themes and lines of research.

    That´s why Altshullers books don´t give a general initial model of TRIZ.  Using the jargon of cognitive psychology, they, and literature on TRIZ generally, lack an orienting basis.

    Savransky´s book helps to dig up the kernel of the theory from the vast amount of information.

    These statements contain, inevitably, some simplification.  The emphasis on the three or four basic concepts does not at all mean, that different heuristics and step-by-step guides are useless.  It means only, that you should begin from basic concepts.  For example, if the book is used as a practical guide, it may be best first to model contradictions, ideal final result, resources, and paths of evolution using only the recommendations in chapters 4-7.  Then the solution can be enriched and improved using heuristics in the part 5 of the book.  To begin from step-by-step guides, for example, from the contradiction matrix (chapter 13), is not the best practice.

    For some seasoned TRIZ experts the transition of emphasis from immediate recommendations to theory may be not very interesting since they have always thought and worked this way. More and more people, however, will use TRIZ, and teach it, too. I am sure, that for many of them clear presentation of the core of TRIZ will be useful.

    Correspondenses between Nakagawa, Rantanen, and Domb.

    (1) From Tour Nakagawa to Kalevi Rantanen (with CC to Ellen Domb),  Dec. 2, 2000

    I have just read your article in the TRIZ Journal and much impressed in your recent experiences and in your view.

    As I wrote you in my last message, which is also posted in the Letter to the Editor of the TRIZ Journal by Dr. Domb's kind consideration, we have just published Salamatov's textbook in Japanese.  And I learned the essence of TRIZ philosophy through it and has come to a view very close to yours.  Please refer to my preface to the Japanese edition posted in English in my Web page.

    Could you please permit me to translate your article into Japanese and post it in our Japanese page of my Web site, "TRIZ Home Page in Japan"? I should appreciate it if you would also permit me to re-post your original article in English in the English page of my Web site.

    With best wishes,

    (2) From Kalevi Rantanen to Toru Nakagawa (with CC to Ellen Domb),   Dec. 3, 2000
    You definitely have my permission to translate my article into Japanese, and re-post the original one.  The only condition is that the TRIZ Journal permits the translation and re-posting.

    It is for me very pleasent to hear that you consider my humble statement interesting enough to be translated into Japanese.   I also have read your preface to the Japanes edition of  Salamatov's textbook.  It contained valuable information for me.  Particularly the following statement is important: "Once we master the heart of TRIZ, we will be able to do technological development creatively with the TRIZ spirits in a free manner without depending too much on the details of huge TRIZ knowledge bases and problem solving methods".

    At the same time with your mail I got a message from one British company.  A person learning TRIZ for a year wrote that he would exactly echo my findings in Finland.

    I also remembered a comment from Mr. Khomenko on your site in October last year.  He wrote that "resolving contradiction is main tool of TRIZ".

    Growing amount of  experience indicates that the best way to implement and use TRIZ is to begin from few basic concepts.  I am now building bridges between TRIZ and behavioral sciences, like cognitive psychology and  activity theory (AT), or cultural-historical acitivity theory (CHAT).  For example, coginitive psychology tells that an effective learning process consists of  six main stages: Motivation, orientation, interiorization, exteriorization (application), evaluation and control.  I have elaborated a new TRIZ course and textbook using this framework.  The concepts of  contradiction, resources, ideality and patterns of evolution give on orienting basis.

    The irony of  history is that Lev Vygotski (1896-1934), the founder of the cultural-historical school,  lived in Russia, too.  However, there has been very little contacts between TRIZ and CHAT so far.  Prof. Engestr??s book Learning by Expanding, 1987,  is an exeption.  It contains (pp 328-330) short comments on Altshuller's work.

    Best regards

    (3)  From Ellen Domb to Kalevi Rantanen and Toru Nakagawa,   Dec. 3, 2000
    Thank you for including me in your discussion.  I am very pleased that the TRIZ Journal has been helpful in this global dialog, and in bringing Rantanen's work to a larger audience through translation.   I look forward to seeing your research on the CHAT method with TRIZ--anything that makes it easier for people to learn and to apply TRIZ is very welcome!

    "Engineering of Creativity: Introduction to TRIZ Methodology of Inventive Problem Solving"
             by Semyon D. SAVRANSKY                     Savransky's Web site

    Table of Contents

                     Chapter 1    How Do We Solve Problems?
                     Chapter 2    TRIZ Overview
                     Chapter 3    Technique: A Resume
                     Chapter 4    Contradictions
                     Chapter 5    Ideality
                     Chapter 6    Substance-Field Resources
                     Chapter 7    Evolution of Technique
                     Chapter 8    Inventions
                     Chapter 9    Effects
                     Chapter 10    Before Start
                     Chapter 11    Inventivity
                     Chapter 12    Su-Fields
                     Chapter 13    Resolution of Pair (Technical) Contradictions
                     Chapter 14    Point (Physical) Contradictions: Ontology and Resolution
                     Chapter 15    Standard Solutions of Invention Problems
                     Chapter 16    Energy Synthesis of Systems
                     Chapter 17    Agents Method
                     Chapter 18    ARIZ

    top of this page Rantanen's article From Nakagawa From Rantanen Table of Contents of Savransky's book TRIZ Journal  Savransky's Web site Japanese page

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