TRIZ Forum:  Communication:  USIT Seminar
USIT Training Seminar in Japan: (2) 3-Day Seminar with Multi-company Engineers
  Toru Nakagawa (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) 
  Feb. 8, 2000 (in Japanese), 
  Mar. 13, 2000 (in English translation by Nakagawa) 
    [Posted on Mar. 23, 2000]


For three days in the end of last January, we held a training seminar of the USIT method in the following way:

Title: USIT Training Seminar:  Creative Problem Solving with Simplified TRIZ Methodology
Organized by:  Mitsubishi Research Institute (Invention Technology Department)
Instructor: Professor Toru Nakagawa (Osaka Gakuin University)
Time:    January 26 (Wednesday) through 28 (Friday), 2000.   (Three days)
Place:    Mitsubishi Research Institute (2F Main Meeting Room) at Otemachi, Tokyo
Participants:  12 engineers (voluntarily participated from 10 companies in Japan)
I had had experiences of holding USIT Training Seminars in Japan twice in two different companies in Japan.  The first trial of USIT Training Seminar in Japan was reported openly in this "TRIZ Hope Page in Japan".  This time is the third trial but is still new in the following points:  we openly called for participation; and engineers working for different companies participated and carried out the group practices of solving real problems brought in to the seminar by themselves.

The present report, just like the former report on my first USIT Seminar, is not allowed to describe the technical contents of the problems being solved, but describes the ways of the training and the ways of methodology application.  It should be noted that this report is written from the author's standpoint as the orginizer and instructor of the seminar.  It should be helpful for readers if any participant would contribute a report on the seminar containing his own impression and thought.
Top of this page 2. Bringing-in Problems  5. Training Program  7. Group practices and USTI Steps  9. Usage of USIT

1.  Planning of the Training Seminar

The planning of the present training seminar was started last October when the present author called Mr. Hotta, Manager of Invention Technology Department of Mitsubishi Research Institute, on the phone.  "In order to make TRIZ penetrated in Japan," I said, "textbooks of TRIZ and software tools like TechOptimizer are not enough; rather it is more important to teach the ways of thinking in the problem solving with TRIZ in a form easy to learn and to practice, at least at the initial stage.  For this purpose, USIT is most appropriate to teach as a simplified version of TRIZ."  Mr. Hotta and people in Mitsubishi Research Institute agreed with me in the necessity of easier methodology, and decided to hold a USIT Training Seminar to learn the methodology in more detail.  We decided to hold, instead of a closed in-company seminar,  a public multi-company seminar for wider and better understanding of the methodology.  So, on December 10, 1999, I made an elaborate lecture on USIT for three hours to the audience of about 45 members of the Invention Technology WorkingGroup, i.e. a user group organized by Mitubishi Res. Inst.  Then, calling for participation to these audience, the present seminar was organized for a three-day USIT trainning.

The seminar was organized and promoted by Mitsubishi Research Institute.  It was most important for the present seminar plan to obtain the participation of engineers coming from many different companies and to learn the methodology by trying to solve close-to-actual problems with a collaborative work.  To make this possible, we announced in the call for participation that all the parties involved in the seminar were to sign a Secrecy Agreement as a basis for such a collaborative work.  We called for the participation of maximum 15 members, and held the seminar with 12 engineers working for 10 different companies.

2.  Bringing-in of Problems to Solve and the Secrecy Agreement

The aim of the present seminar is to try to solve problems as close to the real ones as possible and to learn how to use USIT through our own experiences of such serious efforts.  Textbook examples, i.e. a problem supposed to have one "right solution" known to the instructor, seem often artifitial and have some preset background not so much interesting for the participants.  Participants have problems which they want to solve but have met difficulties to find good solutions in their actual work; so they should have much stronger motivation to solve their own problems and to learn how to apply a new methodology.  So we chose an experiential training.

For such a purpose, it is best for the participants to bring in their own real problems into the seminar to solve.  But the participants' companies would prohibit the disclosure of their company secrets and would not want the results of the seminar to be used by the seminar members coming from other companies (or even by the third parties not participating in the seminar).  The participants would bring in their own problems only if they found strong merits in doing so.  Thus, we thought that the key to success in our traing seminar with multiple-company participants was to set proper and agreeable advantage to the participants who actually brought in their own problems.

In this relation, a contradiction which hinders the penetration of TRIZ had long been recognized:  "For beginners to learn TRIZ, good examples of successful cases are helpful.  But the better the application results are, the less chances to be published because of companies' secrecy policies.  Thus the beginners do not have chances to study good cases, and remain as beginners."

This "TRIZ Case-Study Contradiction" became clear after TRIZ was transfered to the Western countries.  The phenomenon that "the better the case, the less chances of publication" may be most typical in USA.  However, in USA, many TRIZ experts have immigrated from ex-USSR and they already brought up a large number of American TRIZ specialists.  Thus, receiving personal training from them, the engineers in USA industries already have oppotunities to master TRIZ, even without published TRIZ case studies.

In Japan, however, we have no highly-trained TRIZ experts yet and have much less opportunities of getting good  personal training, especially because of the languae barriers.  Thus under the current situation of "very few good case studies published", the TRIZ learners have not enough chances of learning the methodology.  For this reason, the "TRIZ Case-Study Contradiction" must be severer in Japan than in the USA and in Europe.  To overcome this contradiction, it is important for the Japanese TRIZ community to create good cases of applying TRIZ by ourselves and to have a mechanism to make such cases published.

As a result of this consideration, we have set up a new rule for the open USIT Training Seminar; the rule is formulated into the Secrecy Agreement as shown below.  This rule reflects the wisdom of "Sansha Ichi-ryo Son (i.e., The three parties have lost 1 ryo evenly)" in the famous Japanese historical story of O-oka Echizen-no-kami.

[Story telling for non-Japanese readers:  In the Edo period about 250 years ago, a poor craftsman found on a road a wallet containing 3 ryos (i.e. around US$3000).  It became known that a poor samurai had lost it.  So the craftsman went to the samurai to return the money back.  But the samurai said "Since the money left me, I am not the owner of it any longer", and insisted not to receive the money.  The two men argued but could not find a solution, because both of them did not think themselves the right owner of the money.  So they went to the court of Judge O-oka Tadasuke, Echizen-no-kami.  After listening the arguments betwee the two men, O-oka Echizen-no-kami decided by saying: "Good!  You both are men of honors!  Here I have 1 ryo to add to the money.  So I decide that you, the craftman, should have 2 ryos and you, the samurai, should have 2 ryos.  Thus all the three parties, you two and myself, have lost 1 ryo evenly and each have got more!"  -- I hope the reader understand what O-oka obtained by this judgement. ]

Outline of the Secrecy Agreement at the USIT Training Seminar:

All the participants, the instructor, and the staff members of the USIT Training Seminar have agreed with the following articles and signed at the beginning of the Seminar.

1.  Every participant of the Seminar should bring in his/her real but non-confidential technological problem into the Seminar.  The problems should not be related to company's secrecy and should be able to be discussed and solved as a problem in technology.  Preparation for proposing such a problem is a prerequisit for the participation.

2. In the Seminar, the problems to be handled with will be selected among the problems brought in by the participants.  It is understood that only several of the problems can be actually handled in the Seminar.

3.  Every participant (including the instructor and the staff) is obliged to obey the restriction that he/she must not disclose or report (even in his/her own company) about technological contents and technological results of any problem brought in by other participant for the period of 6 months after the Seminar.

4.  Participants agree the following items about the handling of the outputs of the Seminar:

(1)  Exclusive rights of using the outputs of the Seminar are granted for the period of 6 months after the Seminar to the proposor of the problem and his/her company.  The problem proposor may have the action for assuring his/her IP rights, such as filing a patent.  The problem proposor, however, must not hand off the rights, partly or wholely, of the Seminar's outputs to any third party.

(2)  If any idea by participants (including the instructor and the staff) other than the problem proposor should have contributed to the output significantly, then such participants should be named among the inventors.  Such a contributing participant, however, should transfer all the rights of his/her invention to the problem proposor and his/her company without requesting any payment.

(3)  After 6 months from the end of the Seminar, any participant (including the instructor and the staff) is allowed to report and publish about the technological contents and technological outputs of the Seminar.  However, in case of publication, such author should ask the problem proposor to review, so as not to disclose unnecessary information.

(4)  After 6 months from the end of the Seminar, any participant (including the instructor and the staff) may freely use the outputs of the Seminar for his/her own use, especially to use them for further development.

The outline of this Secrecy Agreement was announced in the call for participation; so all the participants applied to the Seminar with the understanding/agreeing of it.  During the first orientation session of the Seminar, the Secrecy Agreemnet was explained to the participants again and was signed by all the members.

The present report of the Seminar, of course, obeys this Agreement and discribes within the framework allowed by it.

3.  Selection of Problems to Solve

In the Seminar we selected four problems to solve under the consensus of all the participants according to the following procedure:

(1)  Every participant submitted a proposal of a problem in a one-page free format to the secretary of the Seminar beforehand.

(2)  At the beginning of the afternoon session on the First Day, the participants made their self-introduction and explained their proposing problems by turns for 4 minutes each.

(3)  The instructor advised about "the keypoints for selecting suitable problems" in the following way:

Serious needs of solving it.
Big profit obtainable if the problem should be solved well.
The proposer of the problem should have technological background knowledge about the problem.
All other participants should have some degree of general and technological background knowledge.
Problem should be focused well or to a reasonable extent.
Fields of the problems should have some reasonable balance with the specialities of the participants.

(4)  The instructor also advised that four (plus/minus one) problems should be handled in the Seminar considering the available time (20 hours in total) and the number of participants (12 members).

(5)  In response to the instructor's inquiry, 3 members raised their hands to express their really-strong desire for their problems to be handled at the Seminar.

(6)  Every member was given 2 votes for selecting two problems among the ones proposed by other members.  The result of the voting was: One problem obtained 5 votes, another problem 4 votes, two other problems 3 votes each, and the rest 8 problems obtained 1 or 0 votes.

(7)  Thus all the participants agreed to handle the top four problems in the vote.  All the 3 problems mentioned in step (5) above were selected as the matter of result.

(8)  Members other than the problem proposors were assigned to any of the four problem groups on the basis of their votes, with some minor adjustments.

The following four problems were selected to solve.  This list also shows the problem proposer (marked with a circle) and the members of the practice groups.
A.  Method of breaking waste plastics for easier recycling
             O  Takateru Imai, Hiroaki Kawashima, and Toshimitsu Kataoka

B.  Method to eliminate tiny bubbles in the washing liquids
            O  Akira Takayama, Yuji Mihara, and Mitsuo Iimura

C.  Method to effectively cool a high-power semiconductor board without thermal strain
           O  Kenji Sawatani, Eiji Fukuzawa, and Shigeyuki Maeda

D.  Method to release the heat from an electronic device component effectively with natural air-cooling
          O  Hiroaki Ueno, Shoichi Konagata, and Yasuhiro Okubo

Eight participants among 12 are members of the INvention Technology WorkingGroup organized by Mitsubishi Res. Inst. and knew TRIZ well and learned abot USIT beforehand through the present author's lecture and this Web site.  The rest four members started to learn TRIZ relatively recently and were still beginners in TRIZ.

4.  Goal of the Seminar

Goal of the present USIT Training Seminar was:

to learn the spirit of TRIZ as a creative methodology for technological innovation, and
to learn and master the USIT methodology as a simplified version of TRIZ especially designed for the concept generation stage, through lectures and group practices of solving real problems.

5.  Outline of the Trainning Program

The Trainning Seminar was carried out with the following time schedule:

The 1st Day:
  10:00 - 10:30    Orienatation:  On the program of this Seminar;  Signing the Secrecy Agreement
  10:30 - 12:40    Lecture (1)  Introduction to TRIZ (50 min.);  Lecture (2)  Introduction to USIT (70 min.)

  13:30 - 14:30    Self-introduction and explanation of brought-in problems by the participants;
                             Selecting the problems to solve in the Seminar;  Forming groups for practice.
  14:30 - 15:20   Short Lecture (3)  Problem Definition Step in USIT (50 min.)
  15:30 - 17:00   Group Practice (1)  Problem definition step (4 groups in parallel)  (90 min.)
  17:00 - 19:00   Presentation, instruction, and discussion on Group practice (all groups by turns, 30 min. each)

The 2nd Day:
    9:00 -   9:50   Short Lecture (4)  Problem Analysis Step in USIT (Part 1: Closed World Method)  (50 min.)
    9:50 - 11:10   Group Practice (2)  Problem analysis step (Part 1: Closed World Method)  (80 min.)
  11:10 - 12:30   Presentation, instruction, and discussion on Group practice (20 min. each)

  13:30 - 14:10   Short Lecture (5)  Problem Analysis Step in USIT (Part 2: Particles Method and Space/Time Characteristic Analysis) (40 min.)
  14:10 - 16:10   Group Practice (3)  Problem analysis step (Part 2:  Particles Method and Space/Time Characteristic Analysis) (120 min.)
  16:10 - 17:30   Presentation, instruction, and discussion on Group practice (20 min. each)
  17:30 - 17:45   Short Lecture (6)  Solution Generation Step in USIT (15 min.)

  18:00 - 20:30   Party

The 3rd Day:
    9:00 - 10:40   Group Practice (4)  Solution generation step (Part 1) (100 min.)
  10:40 - 12:00   Presentation, instruction, and discussion on Group practice (20 min. each)

  13:00 - 14:30   Group Practice (5)  Solution generation step (Part 2:  review and further development)  (90 min.)
  14:30 - 15:30   Presentation, instruction, and discussion on Group practice (15 min. each)
  15:30 - 15:45   Short Lecture (7)  How to introduce TRIZ/USIT into industies (15 min.)
  15:45 - 17:00   Overall discussion (60min.);  Writing the review/comment sheet (15 min.);  Closing.

This time schedule was devised by modifying the program of Dr. Sickafus' USIT Training Seminar through the present author's experiences of conducting two preceeding in-company USIT seminars.  Principal points in designing this program were:

(a)  Rather than learning in the lectures, experiential learning through the practice of actually solving real problems is much stressed.  (Especially in Japan where we (including the instructors) do not have high expertise yet,) the participants not only learn from the instructor but also should build up the Seminar for themselves.

(b)  After the lectures in the mornig session on the first day, the whole program for the rest two days and half are planned to have sessions in accordance to the USIT steps for problem solving.  The present Seminar has two new features: firstly, both the two problem analysis methods in USIT (i.e., the Closed World Method and the Particles Method) are applied in sequence to all the problems, and secondly, two sequential sessions are used for the solution generation step of USIT.  We chose these features because the participants coming from different companies and having different technological backgrounds need much time to understand the actual problems they handle during the Seminar.

(c)  Each group of sessions for practicing USIT is composed of three sessions: a short lecture to explain the procedure of the current USIT step, group practice of the step by handling a problem each in four separate groups, and the session of group presentation.  In the session of group presentation, a member from each group presents the results of their group practice to all the participants, then the instructor gives comments and advices, and finally all the members join the discussion.  This is done for the four groups by turns.

(d)  Real problems are handled to analyze and find solutions.   Four problems are handled in parallel for all through the Seminar for two days and half.

(e)  Each participant belongs to a group assigned for a problem.  Each group has the problem proposer and two other voluntary members.  The coordination in each group is done without any control from outside.  The goup members are regarded essentially standing at the same level, and they usually give presentations by turns.

(f)  Each participant tries to solve one problem in collaboration in the three-membered group, and also listen to the presentations by all other groups and join the discussions.  In this manner, every member studies all the four problems in paralell.  Such parallel study is very effective, because the experiences of other groups may be fed back immediately in their own problem solving practice.

6.  Materials for the Seminar

The lecture materials in the Seminar was made by the present author with reference to the textbook and course material written by Dr. Sickafus.  Most of the elements of the present Course Material has already been published in this site "TRIZ Home Page in Japan".

During the present seminar, one of the participants, Mr. Hiroaki Kawashima was trying to use the  "USIT worksheets" of his own made!  The worksheets are designed very well with careful consideration.  We hope that his worksheets should be improved further for practical use.

7.  Group practices of the steps of the USIT methodology

The procedure of USIT for solving technological problems has been described in this home page several times.  The overall structure of the USIT prcedure is shown here again in the following flowchart.  The actual way of practicing USIT steps in the Seminar and the behavior and reactions of the participants were more or less similar to the ones described in my report of the first trial of USIT Training Seminar in Japan.  They are written here briefly avoiding much repetition.

Fig. Flowchart of the USIT procedure for creative problem solving

7.1  Problem Definition Step

Most important task in this step is to write down one brief statement (of 1 or 2 lines) of the problem to be solved.  This task seems very easy at the first sight, but it is of critical importance because the direction of all the efforts for solving the problem is set by this statement.  Decision of the level of setting the problem, i.e. setting the level of possible solution, is most important and difficult.

As a matter of fact, most of the problem proposors initially assumed that in the problem descriptions submitted before the Seminar they had defined the problem already.  During this step of the Seminar, it was found they should modify the foci of problem settings more or less.  Responses to such needs of modification were quite different among the groups:

In a group, during this problem definition step the new desirable focus of the problem became evident, and the problem proposor were flexible enough to adapt himself to it.  So the whole steps of the Seminar proceeded to solve the problem in a more and more positive direction.

In another group, following the direction explained by the problem proposor, the group members worked hard to generate ideas for overcoming the difficulties.  Later, near the end of the morning session of the Third Day, an idea murmured by one of the members was found to make all the efforts done so far unnecessary.  Though the reports of the present Seminar were completed along the original direction, the problem proposor made up his mind to redo the whole problem solving towards the new direction after the Seminar.

In yet another group, the group members considered the constraints of the current system rather strongly and tried to find solutions in its framework.  So the group, even though it was formed by experts in the field (or rather, just because it was formed by experts in the field (?)), had to struggle with the problem without being able to find new ideas until near the end of the Seminar.

Similar situations like these may probably be encoutered in real practices in industries.  USIT is helpful to list up various alternatives of probem setting for "one problem", but is not responsible, as a methodology, to select one of them.  The ability to select an appropriate one among such alternatives seems to belong to the abilities as managers who can judge the needs and directions of the markets and technologies.

7.2  Problem Analysis Step

The first method for the problem analysis in USIT is the Closed-World Method.  It starts with the representation of the current technical system in problem and to be improved.  The system is to be represented in terms of "Objects, Attributes, and Functions", so as to show the intention of the original designer in particular.  In comparison with functional representations of systems in various other methodologies (e.g. Su-field analysis in classical TRIZ, and functional analysis in VE, etc.), the "Closed-World Diagram" in USIT intends to draw only the essence of the system in a manner specified with clearly-defined terms of Objects, Attributes, and Functions.  To use this method well, however, it is necessary for the learners to study many good examples; hence compilation of such examples is desired.  In the Closed-World Diagram, the analyzers often want to depict the problem situations as well as the original design intentions.  It may need to be considered in the future to properly draw such a problem situation in the diagram.

In the "Qualitative Change Diagram", i.e. in the second substep of the Closed-World Method, we have realized the importance of selecting proper ordinate of the graph.  Sickafus selects the problematic (harmful) effect characteristic of the current system.  We have found, through several applications, that the characteristic function (or perfomance) of the system should also be selected as the ordinates.  These two kinds of ordinates need to be considered in parallel in the problem analysis.

[Recently the present author learned that the Closed-World Diagram and the Qualitative Change Graph strongly reflect the ideas originated in the Israeli SIT method and that they have somewhat different significances in SIT.  In this relation, I am planning to post a paper by Horowitz and Maimon on the SIT methodology in Japanese translation.]  [Note(Mar. 23, 2000):  See the preface (written in English) for the Japanese version of Horowitz and Maimon's paper, which is posted already.]

The Particles Method, i.e. the second problem analysis method in USIT, was evaluated highly by almost all the present participants, especially because of its easiness to apply and its productivity in generating solutions. With this method, the analyzer first make an image of the ideal results, and then with the help of imaginary "magical particles having any desired properties and being able to perform any desired actions" the analyzer figures out the solutions to achieve such a result.  Adapting Altshuller's Smart Little People method, Sicakfus devised this method.

The Space/Time Characteristics Analysis (i.e. Uniqueness Analysis in Dr. Sickafus' terminology) has been evaluated increasingly highly in the experiences of the USIT Trainning Seminars.  When appropriate abscissae are selected to represent the space and time characteristics, the graphs are very illustrative to reveal hidden/not- recognized-before characteristics of the system.  The coordinates, however, are so varying and dependent on the cases that they have to be selected properly by the intuition of the analyzers.  This analysis method is essentially backed up by the TRIZ concepts of "Physical Contradictions" and their solution with the "Separation Principle".  It is told that Altshuller in his late years put more stress on the Physical Contradictions and Separation Principles than on the Technical Contradictions and the Contradiction Matrix.  I feel the effectiveness of the Space/Time Characteristics corresponds to this Altshuller's finding.

7.3  Solution Generation Step

In the present Seminar, we provided two sessions in the morning and afternoon of the Third Day to carry out the Solution Generation Step of USIT.  One session would be too short to try various techniques of solution generation and understand their usage and effectiveness.  The instructor had intended beforehand to carry out the two sequential sessions in the following way:

In the morning session, first the participants are advised to use the results of the Partiles Method and the Space/Time Characteristics analysis and to try to find general overall solutions by freely using USIT's solution generation methods (i.e. the four techniques and the generification method).  Then they are advised to add the results of the Closed World Method in consideration.  At this stage, at the end of the morning session, the groups present their results of group practice and have instructions and discussions together with all the participants.  Then, in the group practice in the afternoon session, the solution generation is reviewed with more explicit consideration of the Objects, Attributes, and Functions concepts, with the intention of widening the solution ideas and checking areas not considered yet.  And furthermore, the participants are advised to quickly evaluate the multiple solutions obtained so far, to select good/important candidate solutions, and to clarify/enhance them and eliminate deficiencies in them.  And finally, the results are presented by groups and discussed by all the participants.

Actually, however, the two sessions for the solution generation steps proceeded with less structure.  It was mostly because some groups found the results of the Closed World analysis easier to use while some others found the results of the Particles method more convenient for solution generation, depending on the nature of the problem.  In this stage of the Seminar, the four groups was making different progresses.  Some groups were meeting difficulties in getting new ideas for solutions, but some other groups were busy in writing down a lot of solutions coming out one after another and in systematizing them in a tree structure.

The present author still feels some shortage in the expertise of using and demonstrating USIT solution generation techniques.   For this purpose, it is necessary to have good examples of representation with the Closed-World diagrams and of solution generation with explicit reference to the Objects, Attributes, and Functions concepts.  USIT has condensed so many TRIZ techniques (e.g., 40 Principles of Invention, 76 Invention Standards, etc.) into only the 4 solution generation techniques.  We need to show the relationships among the USIT and TRIZ techniques, and to demonstrate the useful effects of the simplification.

8.  Evaluation of the present USIT Trainning Seminar

The present Seminar was the third experience for the present author to conduct training seminars on USIT.  The course materials for the training have become ready to use, and the training programs have been improved to become  more or less a standard one.  Before starting the present Seminar, we were a bit worrying about the participants groups coming from different companies and being formed instantly.  In practice, however, there was no demerit due to the multi-company participation.  By virtue of the Secrecy Agreement, participants talked and contributed freely and actively and cooperate with each other.  Many participants are TRIZ pioneers who are working to promote TRIZ in their own companies.  So the actual practices and discussions with the participants were really fruitful.

The practice groups were formed essentially on the basis of the participants choices of problems.  All the groups contain members of multiple companies.  The groups functioning successfully are the groups with members having different but somewhat related specialities in technology.  From viewpoints different from the problem proposor's, the members made good questions, comments, and ideas.  The groups functioning less successfully were formed by the members who were from different companies but had much closer specialities as their background.  Since the members easily understood the difficulties for the problem proposor, they could not make drastic comments and seemed to be stuck in the same difficulty.  This situation could occur more often if people in a company or in a department would try to solve real problems.

It was very effective that each participant deeply involved in one problem and yet joined the discussion on all the four problems in parallel.  Everybody could understand how to solve all the four problems.  The number (four) of the problems was appropriate, I think, by considering the time available for each problem for the presentation and discussion.  But the time schedule was rather hard, and the time for intermission had to be cut off short.

9.  Future Usage

When we think of the usage of USIT in industries, Dr. Sickafus' activities in Ford Motor Company should be the excellent model.  In Ford, Dr. Sickafus' USIT specialist group holds the USIT Training Seminar (for 3 days) every month, and does the consulting work very often.  Real corporate problems are brought in to the USIT group by various departments of technology development.  Then the USIT specialists and the engineers form a project team and have 4 to 5 meetings together with intervals of a week or so.  They apply the USIT procedure in the meetings for problem solving and output a report of multiple conceptual solutions to be submitted to the manager of the engineering department.

Following this model, USIT may be applied in Japanese industries in the following way:  First, one or two employees should be brought up to master the USIT methodology.  They (maybe with the help by an outside USIT expert) should carry out in-company trainning to the engineers in various technology departments.  The USIT experts should also try to solve real problems of engineering departments in collaboration with the relevant engineers.  The joint team for one specific problem should be formed by 1 or 2 USIT experts and 4 to 5 engineers.  The engineers in the joint team should better belong to relevant but different departments so as to have different backgrounds in technology.

One important issue is the position of USIT in the TRIZ methodology.  I discussed on this issue in the reply to the question to Mr. Kosha as posted in the Japanese page of this site.  In short, my opinion is represented in the following table.

  TRIZ  =  Methodology  +  Knowledge Base Recommended Materials to learn and apply
Methodology (a) New view of technology TRIZ textbooks 
Methodology (b) Thinking way for problem solving  Simplified TRIZ methodology
Knowledge Base  A collection of examples implementing the methodology (a) Software tools  (TechOptimizer)

Another issue of wider scope is the position of USIT and TRIZ in the product/technology development.  The following is a brief comment on the issue:

(1)  USIT should be used at the stage when the location of the problem has become clear and some new solution concept are needed for solving the problem.

In USIT, details of engineering/technology are not dealt with.  Various constraints in the problem should be lifted temporarily, in order to find creative concepts with free mind.
Software tools are not used directly in USIT.
(2)  On the basis of the outline of concepts generated with USIT, one should think more with TRIZ.
Using TRIZ software tools (e.g. TechOptimizer) and technological knowledge bases, the conceptual solutions should be reviewed for further extension of ideas.
TRIZ techniques (e.g., 40 Principles of Invention, 76 Invention Standards, etc.) should be applied at various key points.
(3)  After the stage of USIT/TRIZ, one should examine the solutions from engineering and business points of view.
Among the multiple conceptual solutions one should select suitable ones (feasible, important, etc.) and develop them further.
Other methodologies (e.g., Taguchi method) should also be applied/considered.  See the recent artilce by Dr. James Kowalick, on this issue.
(4)  Before the stage (1) mentioned above, a step may be needed for clarifying "What is the problem?" and "What is needed?"
USIT should be used at the stage where technological problems appear somewhat clearly.

The usage of USIT in this manner must be much easier than to try to apply TRIZ in its full extent.  This is because:

Even if there is no TRIZ expert in a company, the step (2) mentioned above can be tried without much problem.  And the step (2) may even be skipped, because USIT, as a simplified version of TRIZ, has already applied the essence of TRIZ in its simple problem-solving procedure.

Another method is to use TRIZ software tools in parallel to the problem solving with USIT.  This method is practical, if the USIT problem solving meetings are held with the interval of a week.  In parallel to the meetings, it may be helpful to consult the TRIZ knowledge bases on the TRIZ software in order to enhance the analyzer's knowledge.  This usage means that USIT is used as the simple framework of thinking procedure whereas TRIZ software tools are used to enhance technological knowledge.

We should further make various trials for better usage of TRIZ and USIT in industries and make the methodologies useful for solving real problems.  According to the Secrecy Agreement mentioned above, the technological results of the present USIT Training Seminar will be made open after 6 months from the Seminar.


[1]  "USIT Training Seminar (Instructor: Ed Sickafus, Mar. 1999)", Toru Nakagawa, TRIZ Home Page in Japan , Mar. 30, 1999 (in Japanese and in English).
[2]  "USIT Training Seminar in Japan:  First Trial of a 3-day Seminar", Toru Nakagawa, TRIZ Home Page in Japan, Sept. 1 (in Japanese and in English).
Top of this page 2. Bringing-in Problems  5. Training Program  7. Group practices and USTI Steps  9. Usage of USIT

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