Usage of USIT Solution Generation Methods:  A Simple and Unified System of TRIZ
Toru Nakagawa (Osaka Gakuin Univ.),
Hideaki Kosha and Yuji Mihara (Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd., Japan)
TRIZCON2003: 5th Annual International Conference of Altshuller Institute for TRIZ Studies held at Philadelphia, PA, USA, on March 16-18, 2003. 
  [Posted here on Apr. 3, 2003]
  [Posted in Japanese translation on Jan. 18, 2003.]
For going back to Japanese  pages, press  buttons.

Preface (Toru Nakagawa, Jan. 22, 2003 [in Japanese], English Translation on Mar. 31, 2003)

This paper was submitted to TRIZCON2003 to be held at Philadelphia on March 16-18, 2003.  Prior to the presentaion in the Conference, we have decided to post the paper here in Japanese translation.

The present paper is an extension of our joint paper presented last November at ETRIA Conference ("TRIZ Future 2002").  Any technical system develops in its expansion stage by increasing its functions and benefits accompanied with the increase in its complexity.  When the development reaches at a certain degree, there appears the contradiction that the complexity of the system itself makes its application and proliferation difficult.  Then, it becomes necessary to reduce the complexity and yet to perform the functions and benefits obtained so far; this urges a new stage of development with "simplification and unification".  (This is a TRIZ-way explanation of the well-known latest industrial trends of 'light, thin, short, and small' in place of 'heavy, thick, long, and big'.)  TRIZ itself is in such a stage of development and needs to be simplified and unified -- This is what we argue in the first part of this paper.

Then in the latter part of the paper, we illustrated how to use the new system of USIT Solution Generation Methods which we presented last September in the Appendix to the ETRIA2002 paper.  Using the "Picture Hanging Kit Problem" as an example, we have applied the USIT solution generation operators one after another to obtain a large number of solution ideas.  During this work, I myself realized "Aha, in this way we can create many useful ideas without fail".  I recalled that in the early stage of my studying TRIZ I had obtained a similar feeling of confidnece when I read the Windshield Molding Case Study reported by Ford Motor Co. in December 1997.  At that time I wrote: "That's It!  We should work just like this!"   Now I believe: "Using USIT, we can analyze the problems more clearly and easily and can obtain multiple solutions more definitely.  And we can explain the solving procedure more clearly."

Now that the method of using TRIZ/USIT has been revealed, the introduction of TRIZ/USIT into industries in Japan should be persued in a new approach.  The present paper reports the activities at Fuji Photo Film Co. for introducing TRIZ/USIT in a slow but steady way.  This follws the "Slow-but-Steady Strategy" recommended by Nakagawa since Oct. 1999.  On the basis of the understanding and results of applications of TRIZ/USIT obtained so far, we think that a new one-step-ahead strategy, named "Steady Strategy", should better be practiced in the TRIZ/USIT promotion in Japanese industries.  I will write about this point some time later.

Authors and their affiliates and addresses are:
   Authors:     Toru Nakagawa  (Osaka Gakuin University)    Email:
                     Hideaki Kosha  (Fuji Photo Film, Co., Ltd)     Email:
                     Yuji Mihara  (Fuji Photo Film, Co., Ltd.)       Email:
   Affiliates:    Osaka Gakuin University   (Suita, Osaka, Japan)    Official Web site:
                     Fuji Photo Film, Co., Ltd.       Web site:

Editor's Note (Toru Nakagawa, Mar. 31, 2003)
Our document "USIT Solution Generation Methods (Extended Version)" is now translated into English and is going to be posted at the same time with the present paper.  It has full reference from USIT to TRIZ. The reference in the reverse way can also be seen in the new document "Indexes of TRIZ Tools".

I have written a Personal Report of TRIZCON2003 reviewing all the presentations, and am going to post it in this Web site at the same time.

Top of this page 1. Introduction  2. Convolution of TRIZ into USIT 3. USIT Procedure 3.2  Solution Generation in USIT  4. Usage of USIT in Industries References Japanese page 

Nakagawa, ETRIA2001: Simplifying TRIZ Nakagawa, TRIZCON2002: USIT Procedure Nakagawa et al., ETRIA2002: Reorganizing TRIZ into USIT  Nakagawa et al.: USIT Solution Generation Methods Personal Report of TRIZCON2003

Toru NAKAGAWA (Osaka Gakuin University, Japan),
Hideaki KOSHA (Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd., Japan), and
Yuji MIHARA (Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd., Japan)
We have reorganized the whole body of TRIZ solution generation methods (including Inventive Principles, Inventive Standards, Trends of Evolution, and Separation Principle) and unified them in the framework of USIT (Unified Structured Inventive Thinking).  USIT has only five Solution Generation Methods.  They are operations of Pluralization onto Objects, Dimensional change onto Attributes, Distribution onto Functions, and Combination and Generalization onto Solution elements.  Each of these operations has several variations which are well described by guidelines enriched with know-hows of TRIZ.  Thus USIT Solution Generation Methods form a simple and unified system of the whole TRIZ methodology.  For using them effectively, problem solvers should prepare during the problem definition and problem analysis stages for clear understanding of the mechanism of the problem system in terms of USIT basic concepts of Objects-Attributes-Functions as well as Space and Time.  Using this scheme, we have been applying USIT to various industrial problems.  Usage of the scheme is illustrated in case of the “Picture Hanging Kit Problem”.  Experiences of promoting and applying TRIZ/USIT in a Japanese industry are also presented.


In order to make TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving) [1-5] more acceptable and effective in industries, the present authors have been arguing the following points [6-10]:

All these three points are saying the same thing:
Traditionally, the richness of TRIZ in the problem solving techniques and knowledge bases, which have been accumulated for nearly five decades, has been assumed to be the strength of TRIZ.  They include 40 Inventive Principles, Altshuller's Contradiction Matrix, physical/chemical Effects, Su-Field Analysis method, 76 Inventive Standards, ARIZ procedure, Trends of Evolution of Technical Systems, etc.  Each of them looks like a handbook.  Thus, training in TRIZ has meant to try to teach all these techniques and knowledge repeatedly so as to master them by heart or at least to become able to use them with the handbooks or software tools at hand.  This type of training was effective in Russia, where students voluntarily learned in two-year courses at graduate-level.

However, since TRIZ was spread over the world in 1990s, such a long period of training has not been accepted by industries.  Engineers and managers in industries want to master any good method in a much shorter term.  When the introductory part or quick summaries of the traditional TRIZ is taught in short seminars, say for 3 days, the students do not understand the essence of TRIZ yet and are not confident of applying the new method for themselves and sometimes rather skeptical to TRIZ.  This situation seems to be the most common cases in current TRIZ promotion.

For satisfying the requirement of meaningful training of TRIZ within much shorter term, the TRIZ promoters have to extract the essence of TRIZ to teach and have to rebuild the problem solving procedure to apply to real industrial problems.  This is usually called "simplification" and some TRIZ promoters refuse such an idea because of "its loss of information" (or loss of "power", "richness", "advancement", or whatever).

However, we should remember that the most important findings by TRIZ in the Trends of Evolution of Technical Systems is "convolution of technical systems".  Please read the following description in Salamatov's textbook [Ref. 2, p.143] taking TRIZ itself as the technical system:

"... From the very beginning the system starts increasing its main useful function at the expense of simplicity, "picking up" a multitude of supplementary subsystems - the expansion period of technical system.  Later evolution is confronted with objective constraints on physical, economical, ecological complication of the system and the convolution period of technical system begins.  On the surface, it [i.e. the convolution of technical system] may appear as simplification but in reality the useful functions acquired at an earlier stage and performed by supplementary subsystems are beginning to be delivered by an "intelligent" [ideal] substance. ..."
In this sense, the evolution of TRIZ in its traditional way (i.e. development with expansion and increasing complexity) is now confronted with constraints on complication for learning and applying.  Thus, the convolution of TRIZ begins, as seemingly simplification on the surface; but in reality, the useful functions of TRIZ obtained so far and performed by different submethods are delivered by a more intelligent method of the new-generation TRIZ.

Historically, the simplification of TRIZ started in 1980s in Israel when Genedy Filkovsky formed SIT (Systematic Inventive Thinking), which is currently promoted in the name of ASIT (Advanced Structured Inventive Thinking) [12].  Then, in 1995 Ed Sickafus at Ford developed USIT (Unified Structured Inventive Thinking) by adopting SIT and further unified the whole problem solving procedure with the concept of "Objects-Attributes-Functions" [13].

The present authors have been publishing four papers recently along this line:  In [7], Nakagawa discussed the necessity of simplifying TRIZ, presented the "Essence of TRIZ in 50 Words", and demonstrated the usefulness of USIT as a simplified procedure.  Ref. [8] is a brief introduction to TRIZ for novices.  In [9], the current refined way of learning and applying USIT to real problems was shown in detail.  Then, in [10], we have reorganized the whole body of TRIZ solution generation methods into simple five methods in USIT.

In the present paper, we are going to explain how TRIZ has been "convoluted" (i.e. simplified and unified) into the current refined form of USIT and how easily one can understand and use it.

[Note (T.Nakagawa, Mar. 31, 2003):  On Jan. 19, 2003 Dr. Ed Sickafus commented me that the word 'Convolution' was an unfortunate choice in this context because 'Convoluted' has the meaning of 'complicated'.  In this paper we meant 'simplification and unification' with the word 'convolution'.  We need a better terminology here.  'Condensation' might be better.]



2.1  Framework of USIT

USIT has been developed by Sickafus [13] as a procedure for creative problem solving in technological fields in real industrial situations.  Assuming that the problem solvers are engineers who are already trained in their specialty engineering fields, Sickafus put most stress on focusing onto the root causes of the problem, obtaining insights into the mechanism of the system, and building new views for coming up with breakthrough solutions.  The framework of USIT can be characterized in the following points:

(a) Focus of a problem:  At the initial stage of problem solving, USIT forces the problem solver to state the problem clearly and concisely.  The problem must be well defined with a set of a clear problem-statement sentence, a conceptual sketch, a statement of plausible root causes, and a minimal set of relevant objects.

(b) Three stages of problem solving procedure:  The whole problem solving procedure is composed of three sequential stages, i.e. problem definition, problem analysis, and solution generation stages.  In each stage one can proceed step by step following clear guidelines.  (One should note that traditional TRIZ has several parallel and separated routes of analysis and solution generation processes.  'A linear sequencing of TRIZ tools' is the new strategy in the "Breakthrough Thinking" [14] by Larry Ball of Honeywell.)

(c) Basic Concept of "Objects-Attributes-Functions":  For understanding the mechanism of technical systems, Functional Analysis, i.e. analysis of functional relationships among objects, has been widely used not only in TRIZ but also in VE and many other methods.  The analysis of Attributes, i.e. properties of Objects, has been weak, on the other hand.  USIT introduced Attributes as one of the key elements to understand system's mechanism.  Thus USIT uses the basic concepts of "Objects-Attributes-Functions" in a unified way throughout the problem solving procedure.

(d) Space and Time:  Characteristics in space and in time are different aspects always necessary/desirable to analyze the system mechanism and to find solutions.

(e) Conceptualization, generalization, and ideality:  USIT always encourages to consider at the conceptual level and in the generalized scope.  This is the way of breaking psychological inertia and obtaining deeper insights and wider ideas.  By replacing concrete/technical terms into neutral/generic terms, one can be released from conventional thinking to get wider scope.  USIT has adopted Altshuller's Smart Little People's Modeling and refined it into the Particles Method as a step-by-step procedure for making an ideal image first and deriving a number of feasible conceptual solutions.

(f) Solution Generation Operators:  USIT has powerful solution generation methods; especially in its current refined form, they may be regarded as a system of solution-generation operators.  Operators can be applied to either one of Objects, Attributes, Functions, Solutions, and Solution pairs; and every application gives the problem solver meaningful suggestions for some new ideas.  Thus, repeated application of these operators onto a wide variety of operands of the system can generate a large number of conceptual solutions.

(f) Productive step-by-step procedure:  The whole USIT procedure is shown in the flowchart of Fig. 1.  The guidelines of each process are clear and readily learnable by heart.  Following these processes step-by-step, problem solvers can generate multiple solutions without fail.  The quality of such solutions will be increased not only with the USIT skill but also with the scientific/technical background knowledge of the problem solvers; hence there exists the possibility of enhancement by the use of knowledge bases.

Figure 1:  Flowchart of the Problem Solving Procedure in USIT

2.2  Reorganization of TRIZ into USIT in the solution generation methods

Recently in our paper at ETRIA2002 [10], we have reorganized the whole body of the solution generation methods of TRIZ into those of USIT.  This is the latest phase of convolution of TRIZ into USIT; such convolution work was started in Israel, was achieved in most part by Sickafus, and was brushed up by us.  Here we will describe the convolution of TRIZ into USIT first in the solution generation stage, because of its clarity, and later in the problem analysis and problem definition stages.

We used Darrell Mann's new textbook [5] as the reference to TRIZ.  Table 1 shows the TRIZ tools in Mann's scheme.  However, from the viewpoints of USIT, those tools need to be regrouped as shown in the right-most column in Table 1.

Table 1.  TRIZ tools in Mann [5] and regrouping of them from USIT's view.

TRIZ Tools in Mann[5]
Reclassified from USIT's view
[Stage in problem solving]
 TRIZ Tools [Chapter title]
Problem Definition 3. Psychology 1. Problem Definition (preparatory)
4. System Operator (9-Windows) 1. Problem Definition (preparatory)
5. Problem/Opportunity Explorer 1. Problem Definition
6. Function/Attribute Analysis 2. Problem Analysis
7. S-Curve Analysis 1. Problem Definition (preparatory)
8. Ideal Final Result  2. Problem Analysis
Select Tool 9. Select Tool      -- not necessary in USIT
Problem Solving 10. Technical Contradictions/
      Inventive Principles
2. Problem Analysis/
3. Solution Generation
11. Physical Contradictions/
      (Separation Principle)
2. Problem Analysis/
3. Solution Generation
12. S-Field Analysis/
     Inventive Standards
2. Problem Analysis/
3. Solution Generation
13. Trends of Technological
2. Problem Analysis/
3. Solution Generation
14. Resources 3. Solution Generation
       (Supporting knowledge)
15. Knowledge/Effects 3. Solution Generation
       (Supporting knowledge)
16. ARIZ 2. Problem Analysis/
3. Solution Generation
17. Trimming 3. Solution Generation
18. Ideal Final Result 2. Problem Analysis/
3. Solution Generation
19. Psychological Inertia Tools 3. Solution Generation
20. Subversion Analysis 2. Problem Analysis/
3. Solution Generation
Solution Evaluation 21. Solution Evaluation 3. Solution Generation/ after USIT

In the solution generation stage (in accordance to USIT) we observe that TRIZ has three most important methods (or three collections of methods), namely, 40 Inventive Principles, 76 Inventive Standards, and Trends of Evolution of Technical Systems.  We examined all the submethods of these collections of methods one by one, mapped them in the 1-to-n scheme onto USIT submethods, and further regrouped them to form a hierarchical system of USIT solution generation methods.  Three other minor TRIZ methods in solution generation stage, i.e. Separation Principle, Trimming, and Use of Ideal Final Result (or 'Self-X' principle), were also examined to find their proper positions in the USIT methods.

Table 2 shows the one-page reminder sheet of the USIT Solution Generation Methods thus obtained in [10, 11].  On the basis of the unified concepts of Objects-Attributes-Functions, the first three USIT methods are the operators of Pluralization onto Objects, Dimensional change onto Attributes, and Distribution onto Functions.  The fourth USIT method is the operator of Combination to be applied onto solution pairs.  The system characteristics in Space and in Time can be fully used in all these four USIT methods.  The fifth USIT method, i.e. Solution Generalization Method, ensures to search the conceptual solution space thoroughly and to build a hierarchical system of possible solutions.  In this manner, the whole TRIZ solution generation methods are now convoluted into the clear scheme of operators in USIT.  Each USIT submethod has simple and effective guidelines to apply and has references to relevant TRIZ submethods [11].

Table 2.  Solution Generation Methods of USIT (a one-page reminder)
Sept. 18, 2002

(1)  Object Pluralization Method 

   a.  Eliminate 
   b.  Multiply into 2, 3, ..., inf. 
   c.  Divide into 1/2, 1/3, ..., 1/inf.
   d.  Unify 
   e.  Introduce or modify 
   f.  Introduce from the Environment. 
   g.  From solid to powder/liquid/gas 

(3) Function Distribution Method

   a.  Reassign to a different Object 
   b.  Divide the compound Functions 
             and assign them separately
   c.  Unify multiple Functions 
   d.  Introduce a new Function
   e.  Vary the Function in space, 
           use space-related Functions. 
   f.  Vary the Function in time. 
   g.  Detection/measurement Function. 
   h.  Enhance adapting/coordination/control
   i.   With a different physical principle 

(2)  Attribute Dimensionality Method 

   a.  Deactivate a harmful 
   b.  Activate a useful 
   c.  Enhance a useful or suppress a harmful 
   d.  Introduce a spatial attribute or 
              vary in space 
   e.  Introduce a temporal attribute or 
              vary in time
   f.  Change the phase or the inner-structure
   g.  Attributes at the micro level 
   h.  Properties of the system as a whole

(4) Solution Combination Method 

   a.  Combine functionally
   b.  Combine spatially
   c.  Combine temporally
   d.  Combine structurally
   e.  Combine at the principle level. 
   f.  Combine at the super-system level

(5) Solution Generalization Method 

   a.  Generalize/specify 
   b.  Hierarchical system of solutions 

2.3  Convolution from TRIZ into USIT in the Problem Analysis Stage

The convolution relationship from TRIZ into USIT in the Problem Analysis Stage is relatively clear, as shown in Fig. 2.  Basic intention of designing USIT in the Problem Analysis Stage is to reveal the mechanism of the system and of the problem in terms of Objects, Attributes, and Functions as well as Space and Time.

Fig. 2  Convolution from TRIZ into USIT in the Problem Analysis Stage

In the traditional TRIZ, one of the main problem analysis tools is "Su-Field Analysis", where only two Substances (i.e. Objects in USIT) and the Function between them are considered in focus.  In USIT, functional analysis has been reformulated in the Closed-World Diagram, with relaxing the two-Objects regulation in order to think of relationships among several important Objects together.  The problem solver is guided to reveal the Functions of relevant Objects, especially in accordance with the original intention of the system design.

The concept of Attributes was relatively weak in the traditional TRIZ, where specifying Technical Contradictions and using Contradiction Matrix is the way of thinking of Attributes.  For using the Contradiction Matrix, however, the problem solvers are trained to cast their categories of properties into the preset 39 standard parameters rather than to examine relevant Attributes in more meaningful way.  In USIT, in the process of building Qualitative-Change Graphs, we are requested to list up as many Attributes as possible which are either increasing or decreasing relationship with the problem effects.  Thus we analyze the root causes of the problem in terms of various Attributes of relevant Objects and reveal the possibilities of enhancing/preventing the problem effects in a wide range of scope.  In using Contradiction Matrix, you are requested to find two Attributes in a conflicting relationship; whereas in USIT you are guided to think relationships of various Attributes with the problem effects and to find breakthrough solutions in a more straightforward manner.  Sickafus' OAF diagram is a tool to describe the Functions in terms of these Attributes.

Space and Time are important factors in the system.  In the initial steps of ARIZ, Operational Space and Operational Time are to be specified.  USIT has a process which is specific to reveal the system characteristics in Space and in Time by drawing simple diagrams.

Even though the Ideality and the direction of technical evolution are important concepts in TRIZ, how to clarify (or analyze) them in specific system of problem (in short steps) is not yet clear in TRIZ.  Modeling with Smart Little People is Altshuller's technique of using empathy for making an image of an ideal solution.  USIT uses this method in the name of "Particles Method", and has further enhanced it by introducing the logical AND/OR Tree Diagram for analyzing desirable actions and properties to be embodied by the agent (i.e. the Particles).

2.4  Convolution from TRIZ into USIT in the Problem Definition Stage

In the Problem Definition Stage, the convolution relationship from TRIZ into USIT is less clear, as shown in Fig. 3.  TRIZ tools in the problem definition stage, as sited in [5], are consisted of unfocused and general-purpose introductory tools.  USIT, on the other hand, is consisted of one method which tries to focus sharply on a problem to solve.

Methods for avoiding Psychological Inertia in TRIZ are adopted in USIT best in the Generalization principle (or 'Generification' in Sickafus [13]), which underlies the whole USIT procedure.  Generic terms, instead of specific concrete names, are advised to be used in the problem statement and in the names of the Objects.

Fig. 3  Convolution from TRIZ into USIT in the Problem Definition Stage

9-Windows Method (or System Operator) in TRIZ is not used in USIT explicitly, but the concepts of system and its hierarchy are fully used in USIT.  The time evolution part of the 9-Windows Method is regarded less straightforward and not used in USIT, except possibly in preparatory discussions.  The S-curve analysis is not used in USIT in a similar sense.

Problem/Opportunity Explorer seems to be the main process in this stage cited in [5].  All of its four components have their correspondents in USIT as shown in Fig. 3.  Benefits analysis should be a part of discussion for setting the problem statement; identification of resources is done in listing up the minimum set of Objects; Constraints and 'Sore points' are to be clarified in finding the Plausible root causes.

In comparison with these TRIZ tools, the USIT process in the Problem Definition Stage has much clearer targets and guidelines.  The target is to define (or specify) the problem which you want to solve now with USIT.  Considering the problem in a hierarchy of 'systems of problems' (like in the benefits analysis) and as 'a system in a hierarchy of technical systems', you should state the problem to solve in a clear sentence of one or two lines.  Since USIT puts much stress in understanding the mechanism of the system and the problem, it requests you to draw a conceptual sketch and to state (on technological bases) Plausible Root Causes.  Listing up the Minimum Set of Objects is a basis for further analysis in the next stage, i.e. Problem Analysis.


As the results of our latest work of reorganizing TRIZ Solution Generation Methods into those of USIT, the Solution Generation Stage in USIT is much empowered while with no change in the scheme of the USIT Procedure.  The meaning and significance of individual steps in Problem Definition and Problem Analysis Stages have been made clearer:  They all prepare the bases of understanding the problem and system's mechanism in terms of Objects-Attributes-Functions, Space & Time, and Ideality, just for the purpose of making breakthrough ideas in the Solution Generation Stage.

The USIT procedure is illustrated in the flowchart of Fig. 1 and is described in detail in [9].  The "Picture Hanging-Kit Problem" described in Sickafus [13] and later discussed in more detail in [9, 15] is used here again for illustrating the usage of USIT.

3.1  Problem Definition and Problem Analysis Stages in USIT

The problem statement in this case is "Improve the present system of nail, string and two hooks, for hanging a picture, such that it will not become tilted."  The Closed-World Diagram (i.e. the USIT way of Functional Analysis) is illustrated in Fig. 4.  The Functions principal to the present problem are shown with solid arrows while those auxiliary are with dotted arrows.  It is remarkable that in this problem the main functions of the Hooks, String, and Nail are aligning the Frame instead of supporting the weight.

Fig. 4  Functional Analysis in USIT for the Picture Hanging Kit Problem

The Qualitative Change Graphs in Fig. 5 lists up relevant Attributes in either increasing or decreasing relationship to the frame being apt to tilt.  We should notice that all the Attributes related to the Root Causes of the problem and the Attributes which may be able to prevent/suppress the problem are effectively brought into explicit consideration in these graphs.

Fig. 5  Attribute Analysis in USIT for the Picture Hanging Kit Problem

3.2  Solution Generation Stage in USIT

With these understanding of the Objects-Attributes-Functions in the system, the Solution Generation Methods listed in Table 2 are applied repeatedly, to obtain many new solution ideas in addition to the known ones.  For example, Table 3 shows the results of applying the method 1c (i.e. 'Divide the Object') to the Objects one by one.  The guideline of the method was effective to generate a large number of ideas as shown.

Table 3.  Results of applying Object Pluralization Method (submethod 1c)

Method/Submethod: (1) Object Pluralization Method
  (1c) Divide the Object (into 1/2, 1/3, ..., 1/infinity).
Guideline:  Divide the Object into multiple parts (1/2, 1/3, ..., 1/infinity), modify the parts (slightly, or differently for different parts), and combine them for using together in the system.
Result of application:
  onto the Nail Object:
(1) Make one half of the Nail slippery for adjusting and the rest half rough for holding without slipping.
(2) Put a rubber sleeve on the half length of the Nail for making it not slippery while holding the string.
(3) Make a Nail with a slit into which the String is set tightly after adjusting the alignment.
   the String Object:
(1) Make the String in twisted pair (or triple), and place the Nail between the paired sub-strings.
(2) Cut the String into two halves and fix them onto the Nail after adjusting their relative lengths.
(3) At the middle part of the String, set a rubber sleeve or something soft and sticky so that the String will not slip on the Nail while holding the Frame.
   the Hook Objects
(1) Make the top part of the hook adjustable in its effective position.
(2) Make the top part of the hook adjustable in its effective position and further install a screw for fixing it at the position.
   the Frame Object
(1)  Make a part of the frame movable horizontally at the back in order to adjust its position of the center of mass.

In a similar manner, Table 4 and Table 5 show the results of application of methods 2e and 3a, respectively, just for example.  One should note that by repeatedly using different methods in USIT many ideas are generated while some of them are the same; this fact should not be regarded as a fault because of their redundancy but rather an advantage which ensures generation of many important solutions from different views.  As discussed in [9], the idea of "Sickafus' Nail", whose surface is smooth in one half and rough in the other half, can be explained as the results of four different USIT methods as well as of TRIZ Separation Principle.

Table 4.  Results of applying Attribute Dimensionality Method (submethod 2e)
Method/Submethod: (2) Attribute Dimensionality Method
  (2e) Introduce/enhance a temporal Attribute or distribute/vary in time a harmful/useful Attribute or Attribute's value.
Guideline:  Introduce/enhance the temporal Attribute(s) related to the operational phases, duration of operations, time frequency, etc. of the system, and depending on such temporal conditions activate different Attributes or vary the values of the Attributes in time.
Result of application:
  onto the Attributes of
   the Nail Object:
(1) Change the surface friction of the Nail in time.  Small friction during adjustment, and larger friction or even sticky/stuck after the adjustment and during holding.  For instance, apply an adhesive which becomes solid/strongly glue the String later.
(2) After the adjustment, the Nail has the attributes of holding the string tightly.  For instance, use a kind of snap mechanism.
(3) Make the Nail larger to install a device for clamping the String tightly with a screw after adjusting the String.
  onto the Attributes of
   the String Object:
(1) Make one turn of the String at the Nail and the String gets solid after the adjustment.  Apply some liquid to the string, and the liquid later get solid.  The solid do not need to be so strong; thus whenever necessary it is readily broken.
(2) Apply a plastic material on the String at the Nail; the plastic is warmed and soft during adjustment and gets hard afterward at the room temperature.
(3) The thickness (or diameter) of the String is small (because being pressed by fingers beforehand, for instance) during the adjustment and becomes larger afterward (to become its natural size by being left alone) and gets stacked in the slot of the Nail.
  onto the Attributes of
   the Hook Objects
(1) The Hook position is adjustable and then later fixed with a screw, with a glue/wax, with a clip, etc.
  onto the Attributes of
   the Frame Object
(1) The position of the center of mass of the Frame is adjustable by sliding a weight horizontally at the back and then the weight is fixed (i.e. no longer movable) later.
(2) Make the bottom edge of the Frame sticky to the Wall after the adjustment.
(3) The bottom edge of the Frame is fixed (with a screw, with a glue, with a magnet, etc.) onto the Wall after the adjustment.

Table 5.  Results of applying Function Distribution Method (submethod 3a)
Method/Submethod: (3) Function Distribution Method
  (3a)  Reassign the Function to a different Object.
Guideline:  Reassign (or transfer) the present Function to a more suitable different Object which are already present or newly introduced in the system
Result of application:
  onto the Functions of
   the Nail Object:
(1) Adjusting Function of the Nail is reassigned to the Hooks.    The Nail has two Strings and the length of the String is adjusted at the Hooks.
(2) Adjusting Function of the Nail is reassigned to the String.  The Nail has two Strings and the length of the String is adjusted by the String.  The String has a device similar to the adjustable band stopper.
  onto the Functions of
   the String Object:
(1) Hanging Function of the String is reassigned to the Hooks.  Two Hooks directly hang the Frame to two Nails and have Adjusting Function (for instance, by changing its effective vertical length) as well.
  onto the Functions of
   the Hook Objects
(1) Weight holding Functions of the Hooks are reassigned to the Frame.  The back surface of the Frame can stick to the Wall and holds the weights.  The tilt of the Frame can be adjusted just before it get stuck.
  onto the Functions of
   the Frame Object
(1)  The Function to show the tilt of the Frame is reassigned to a new object/device.  A water-level indicator is set at the top part of the Frame to show the tilt precisely.

The guideline of the Solution Generalization Method was productive also in this case.  Table 6 summarizes the hierarchical system of solutions, which was constructed newly in the present case study.  The whole solution space for the "Picture Hanging Kit Problem" is now characterized with eight types of solutions (or solution regions) with respect to the numbers of Nails, Strings, and Hooks.

  Table 6.  Hierarchical system of solutions for Picture Hanging Kit Problem

Type Nails Strings Hooks
Adjusting and then fixing Attribute
-  Tilt of the Shelf to support the Frame
Hook position (horizontal)
Supporting position of the Frame
Relative Nail position (vertical)
1 (or 0)
Hook position (horizontal)
Relative lengths of the String
-  Hook position (horizontal)
Length of a String
-  Hook position (horizontal)
2 (or 0)
Nail position (vertical)
-  Length of a String or a Hook
-  Hook position (vertical)

The first four types are quite simple:  Type A uses no Nail, no String, and no Hook, where the picture Frame may be just placed at a shelf (or something like) on the Wall.  In Type B, a Hook is used to hang the Frame directly on the Wall, while in Type C a Nail on the Wall is used to hang the Frame directly.  In these two Types one should adjust the horizontal position of the Hook or the Nail with respect to the Frame for making a right balance.  In Type D we use two Nails, where the vertical position of a Nail should be adjusted.

In Type E, the Frame is hung with a Hook onto a Nail (with or without a String), where the Hook position should be adjusted horizontally on the Frame.  Type F is the typical (and original) case, where a String is used to hang the Frame with two Hooks onto a Nail.  We need to adjust either the relative length of the two parts of the String or the position of a Hook (essentially horizontally).  In Type G, we use two Strings to hang two Hooks of the Frame onto a Nail; the length of a String or the horizontal position of a Hook is the Attribute we should adjust.  In Type H, we use two separate sets of a Nail, a String, and a Hook; we should adjust either one of the vertical positions (or length) of the Nail, the String, and the Hook, in relative to the corresponding component of the other side.

The essence of this problem is found that either one of the Attributes shown in the right column of Table 6 should be adjusted smoothly and precisely for hanging the Frame at the right position and then the same Attribute must be fixed at the adjusted value later for a long time in spite of external disturbances like vibration from the Nail and Wall, wind, human touching, etc.  Thus we should think of a mechanism to allow smooth variation of the Attribute for adjusting and then to intently fix the same Attribute at the value at a time and afterwards as long as we want.  Such mechanism can be thought of readily, once we have revealed, with the help of USIT, the relevant Attributes as shown above.


Ed Sickafus reported why and how he developed USIT in Ford Motor Company in 1995 [16] and how his USIT team trained engineers and applied USIT successfully to a number of real industrial problems [17].  In Japan, Nakagawa introduced USIT in 1999 and have been endeavoring to teach and apply USIT in industries and in academia, as reported in [7, 9].  As a pioneering case in Japanese industry, the experiences of TRIZ/USIT promotion activities in Fuji Photo Film Co. are reported here:

4.1  TRIZ/USIT promotion in Fuji Photo Film Co.

At the very initial stage of introduction of TRIZ in Japan, a pioneering engineer, Kei Nakamura, interested in TRIZ in 1996 and applied Contradiction Matrix and 40 Inventive Principles to more-than-100 real problems in the company and suggested his results to his colleagues.  People in the company respected him for his talent but were still skeptical to TRIZ; Nakamura had to leave the company in 1998.

The present authors, Hideaki Kosha and Yuji Mihara, got interested in TRIZ in 1997 and in 1998, respectively, through various articles, Web information, seminars, etc. and started learning it for themselves.  In 1998, Mihara volunteered to be the promoter of TRIZ (in part time) in his company, and Kosha, working in a different division, was allowed to work on TRIZ full time.  Attending at Nakagawa's lectures and a 3-day Training Seminar of USIT, Kosha and Mihara became convinced of the easiness and effectiveness of USIT and decided to collaborate for promoting TRIZ by adopting USIT as their core strategy.

They first tried to make as many engineers and managers as possible familiar to TRIZ by opening an intranet TRIZ home page and organizing short lectures of classical TRIZ and of USIT given by out-of-company leaders.  Then, getting the approval of the management, they organized a 2-day training program of Classical TRIZ, a one-day course of Usage of TechOptimizer, and a 3-day seminar of TRIZ for application practices.

Besides the seminars, Mihara and Kosha organized small project groups for applying TRIZ/USIT to real problems.  Talking with engineers and managers of different divisions, they found suitable problems to solve and groups of people who were interested in applying the new TRIZ/USIT methodology to their own problems.  In these projects, the project team meets several times with 2-3 week intervals for making USIT sessions.  USIT Course Materials were made by adopting Nakagawa's various articles and were given practically in the On-the-Job Training.  TRIZ software tools, i.e. TechOptimizer, are used mostly off the sessions and sometimes in the session where only the leader operates the tool for demonstration purpose.

As the results of these projects, we have solved more than a dozen problems successfully with TRIZ/USIT, have filed patents, and are proceeding to implement the solution ideas in the commercial products/processes.  One of the cases, i.e. "Improvement of a glass filter for separating plasma out of blood (for an analysis equipment)", was reported in the 2nd Invention Machine Users' Group Meeting in Japan in September 2001 [18, 19].  In this case, the USIT guideline to think over the mechanism of the problem system especially with the viewpoints of Attributes was useful.  It was recognized during the USIT session that the blood corpuscles are not trapped permanently but rather trapped and released a number of times at the glass fibers along the blood flow.  Hence the large-diameter, dense and thin glass filter was changed into the one with smaller-diameter, loose in the density, and thick (or long) along the path, just like a small column of the chromatography.

The TRIZ/USIT activities in Fuji Photo Film have been developing groups of people who are interested and get involved in the application of TRIZ/USIT.  A TRIZ Study Group of nearly twenty members has been organized and approved to work in the company.  We are encouraging them to be the key persons for TRIZ/USIT application in their divisions.


The direction of simplification and unification of TRIZ has been found natural and necessary at the present stage of evolution of TRIZ.  It is the "Convolution Period" of TRIZ; after TRIZ was developed and established in the former USSR, it is currently facing with the conflicts of difficulty in penetration due to its own complexity.  A case of convolution of TRIZ into a much simpler and unified methodology is demonstrated to be USIT.  The Solution Generation tools of TRIZ have been reorganized into those of USIT in an explicit way.  The convolution relationships from TRIZ tools to those of USIT are also explained in the Problem Definition and Problem Analysis stages.

An example of applying USIT is demonstrated in the "Picture Hanging Kit Problem".  The refined system of USIT Solution Generation Methods has been found effective in producing creative ideas in a systematic way.  The activities for promoting TRIZ/USIT in an Japanese industry show the steady growth of interests and capability in applying TRIZ/USIT to real industrial problems.


[1] Genrich S. Altshuller: "The Innovation Algorithm", Technical Innovation Center, Worchester, MA, USA, (1999) (E).

[2] Yuri Salamatov: "TRIZ: The Right Solution at The Right Time", Insytec, The Netherland, (1999) (E); Nikkei BP, (2000) (J).

[3] Ideation International Inc., "Tools of Classical TRIZ", Southfield, MI, USA, (1999) (E).

[4] Semyon D. Savransky: "Engineering of Creativity: Introduction to TRIZ Methodology of Inventive Problem Solving", CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA, (2000) (E).

[5] Darrell Mann: "Hands-On Systematic Innovation", CREAX Press, Ieper, Belgium, (2002) (E).

[6] "TRIZ Home Page in Japan", WWW site, ed. Toru Nakagawa.  URL: (in English), (in Japanese).  (Note: These are abbreviated here as "TRIZ HP Japan".)

[7] Toru Nakagawa: 'Learning and Applying the Essence of TRIZ with Easier USIT Procedure', ETRIA World Conference: TRIZ Future 2001, Nov. 7-9, 2001, Bath, UK, pp. 151-164 (E); TRIZ HP Japan, Nov. 2001 (E); Aug. 2001 (J).

[8] Toru Nakagawa: 'Introduction to TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving): A Technological Philosophy for Creative Problem Solving', The 23rd Annual Symposium of Japan Creativity Society, held at Toyo University, Tokyo, Nov. 3-4, 2001 (J); TRIZ HP Japan, Nov. 2001 (J); Jan. 2002 (E).

[9] Toru Nakagawa: 'Experiences of Teaching and Applying the Essence of TRIZ with Easier USIT Procedure', TRIZCON2002: Fourth Annual Altshuller Institute for TRIZ Studies International Conference, Apr. 30- May 2, 2002, St.Louis, MO, USA; TRIZ HP Japan, May 2002 (E); Jan. 2002 (J).

[10] Toru Nakagawa, Hideaki Kosha, and Yuji Mihara: ' Reorganizing TRIZ Solution Generation Methods into Simple Five in USIT', ETRIA World Conference "TRIZ Future 2002" held at Strasbourg, France, on Nov. 6-8, 2002; TRIZ HP Japan Nov. 2002 (E); Sept. 2002 (J).

[11] Toru Nakagawa, Hideaki Kosha, and Yuji Mihara: 'USIT Solution Generation Methods: Simplified System by the Reorganization of TRIZ Solution Generation Methods', Appendix to Ref. [10], ETRIA World Conference "TRIZ Future 2002" held at Strasbourg, France, on Nov. 6-8, 2002; TRIZ HP Japan Nov. 2002 (E); Sept. 2002 (J).

[12] Roni Horowitz: 'From TRIZ to ASIT in 4 Steps', TRIZ Journal, Aug. 2001 (E); TRIZ HP Japan, Sept. 2001 (J).

[13] Ed. N. Sickafus: "Unified Structured Inventive Thinking: How to Invent", NTELLECK, Grosse Ile, MI, USA, (1997).

[14] Larry Ball: 'Breakthrough Thinking: A Linear Sequencing of TRIZ Tools', TRIZ Journal, Mar. 2002. ; Japanese translation by T. Nakagawa, TRIZ HP Japan, Mar. 5, 2003 (J) 

[15] Toru Nakagawa and Ed Sickafus, 'Commentary on "The Picture Hanging Kit Problem"', TRIZ HP Japan, Aug. 2001 (J & E) .

[16] Ed Sickafus, 'A Rationale for Adopting SIT into a Corporate Training Program', TRIZCON99: First Symp. on TRIZ Methodology & Application, March 1999, Novi, MI, USA; TRIZ HP Japan, May 1999 (J).

[17] Ed Sickafus, 'Injecting Creative Thinking into Product Flow', First TRIZ International Conference, Nov. 1998, Industry Hills, CA, USA; TRIZ HP Japan, Jan. 1999 (J).

[18] Yuji Mihara, 'Experiences of Introducing TRIZ/USIT in Fuji Photo Film', 2nd Invention Machine Users' Group Meeting in Japan, held at Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture, Sept. 2001 (J); TRIZ HP Japan, Nov. 2001 (J).

[19] Tsukasa Sinohara, 'Fuji Film: Improving the Filter for Extracting Plasma from Blood', Nikkei Mechanical, Nov. 2001, pp. 72-73 (J)

Note 1)  (E): written in English, and (J): written in Japanese.

About authors:
Toru NAKAGAWA:  Professor of Informatics at Osaka Gakuin University.  Since he was first exposed to TRIZ in May 1997, he endeavored to introduce it into Fujitsu Labs for which he was working.  After moving to the University in April 1998, he has been working for introducing TRIZ into Japanese industries and academia.  In November 1998 he founded the public WWW site "TRIZ Home Page in Japan" and serves as the Editor.  He is currently working to introduce USIT as an easier TRIZ procedure.   --  He graduated the University of Tokyo in chemistry in 1963, studied at its doctoral course (receiving D. Sc. degree in 1969), became Assistant in Department of Chemistry, the University of Tokyo in 1967; he did research in physical chemistry, particularly experiments and analyses in the field of high-resolution molecular spectroscopy.  He joined Fujitsu Limited in 1980 as a researcher in information science at IIAS-SIS and worked for quality improvement of software development.  Later he served as a managing staff in IIAS-SIS and then in R&D Planning and Coordination Office in Fujitsu Labs.  --  E-mail:

Hideaki KOSHA:  Graduated Keio University Graduate School (M.E.) in applied chemistry and joined Fuji Photo Film Co. in 1981.  Did research on magnetic recording materials, and since 1989 promoted VE (Value Engineering) in Production Technology Division.  Learned TRIZ in 1997 and USIT in 1999, and started promoting the USIT trial projects in 2000 with Y. Mihara.  Has conducted more-than-twenty USIT projects in real industrial applications in the company.  Email:

Yuji MIHARA:  Born in 1946, graduated Hokkaido University Graduate School (M.S.) in chemistry, and joined Fuji Photo Film Co. in 1971.  Did research on photo-sensitive materials, worked for product development, and is currently working for intranet management and TRIZ/USIT promotion.  Learned TRIZ in 1998 and USIT in 2000 at Nakagawa’s 3-day USIT Training Seminar.  Since 2000, he has been conducting the training of USIT and promoting TRIZ/USIT application projects in his company.  Also serves as Leader at Users Study Group for Innovation Technology, Mitsubishi Research Institute, in 2000 and in 2002.  Email:

Top of this page 1. Introduction  2. Convolution of TRIZ into USIT 3. USIT Procedure 3.2  Solution Generation in USIT  4. Usage of USIT in Industries References Japanese page 

Nakagawa, ETRIA2001: Simplifying TRIZ Nakagawa, TRIZCON2002: USIT Procedure Nakagawa et al., ETRIA2002: Reorganizing TRIZ into USIT  Nakagawa et al.: USIT Solution Generation Methods (Full Version) Personal Report of TRIZCON2003

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