TRIZ Introductory Articles

TRIZ -- Recent Approaches and Activities in Japan and in the World

Toru Nakagawa (Osaka Gakuin University, Professor Emeritus)

"Standardization and Quality Control" (Japanese Standards Association), Vol. 66, No. 2, pp. 17-24 (2013), Special Issue on TRIZ
[Posted: Mar. 22, 2013; Note added: Apr. 6, 2013]  

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Editor's Note (Toru Nakagawa, Mar. 18, 2013)

This is the English translation of my paper published in the Special Issue on TRIZ of the "Standardization and Quality Control".  The journal is the official monthly magazine published by the Japanese Standards Association (JSA), which is a semi-official organization for promoting standardization, e.g. ISO, JIS, and QC, in Japan.  The Special Issue contains 8 papers, in 53 pages in total, as shown in the parent page .  I am grateful to the Japanese Standards Association for their kind permission of reposting all the papers in the present Web site.   

This is the third paper in the Special Issue, following the first paper on the role of TRIZ (by Toshihiro Hayashi)  and the second paper on the basics of TRIZ (by Manabu Sawaguchi) .  The present paper describes my perspective views on different approaches and activities of TRIZ in Japan and in the world since 1990s, i.e. after TRIZ was introduced into the western world. Evolution of TRIZ in its methodological contents is described first from the global viewpoints.  Then I explain various activities of penetrating TRIZ in different countries in the world and in Japan. 

In the Japanese page I post the original PDF version published in the journal and also an HTML version with enhancement of links to references.  In this English translation page, the paper is posted in HTML with enhanced links to references (mostly in this site). 

Table of Contents:

1. Evolution of TRIZ (since 1990s, in its contents)

1.1 Construction of knowledge bases and advanced IT support
1.2 Forecasting and strategy making for developing new products/services
1.3 Supporting the overall processes of new product development and integral use of TRIZ with other techniques.
1.4 Extension of fields of application
       1.4.1 Towards non-technical fields
       1.4.2 Application to complex, large-scale problems
1.5 Easy methods for problem solving
1.6 Restructuring the system of techniques and applying to education

2. Activities and Status of Penetration of TRIZ in the World

2.1 Chronological summary of TRIZ penetration in the world
2.2 In Russia region
2.3 In the United States
2.4 In European countries
2.5 In Japan (brief summary)
2.6 In South Korea
2.7 In other countries in Asia, etc.

3. Activities and Status of Penetration of TRIZ in Japan

3.1 Overview
3.2 TRIZ activities in Japanese industries
3.3 TRIZ activities in Japanese universities


Top of this page Contents Approaches (Evolution in methodology) Activities in the world Activities in Japan Ref. Parent page Japanese page


TRIZ -- Recent Approaches and Activities in Japan and in the World

Toru Nakagawa
(Osaka Gakuin University, Professor Emeritus)

In this paper, I will explain different approaches and directions of evolution of TRIZ since 1990s and introduce the activities and situations of application and proliferation of TRIZ in Japan and in the world.

1. Evolution of TRIZ (since 1990s, in its contents)

TRIZ was developed and established in the former Soviet Union as a system having many different components and aspects (See the central part of Figure 1) .

Since 1990s, after the collapses of USSR, TRIZ has been introduced into the western world and has been extended further in various directions.  The principal directions of TRIZ evolution are illustrated in Fig. 1 with radial multiple arrows, and they are described below one by one.

Figure 1. Evolution directions of TRIZ (since 1990s, in its contents)

1.1 Construction of knowledge bases and advanced IT support

TRIZ was originally developed through the analysis of a huge number of patents to extract their essences of knowledge useful for technology development.  Thus TRIZ has constructed several well-organized knowledge bases and various types of principles in the abstract form of their essences.

Since 1990s TRIZ has been further extended in the construction of technology knowledge bases and improvement of its creative thinking techniques.  Such knowledge bases and techniques were implemented in software tools, as useful supporting systems in full use of advanced IT technologies .

The main features are summarized as follows:

(1) Information in newly filed patents and newly published technical papers in the world are actively kept monitored and analyzed in a systematic manner and their essences are incorporated into the TRIZ software tools. Thus the software tools in TRIZ have knowledge bases containing up-to-date information in science and technology and can support various techniques for technological problem solving.

(2) TRIZ software tools have rich functions to refer to and utilize patent information in the world.  Such tools are useful for surveying different technical means to achieve our target functions, for surveying and analyzing competitive/alternative technologies and patents, for evaluating the competitor's patent strategies, for making our own IP strategies, and for searching for potential fields of application of our own technologies/products, etc.

(3) TRIZ software tools provide us the functions to assist or guide the processes of technical problem solving.  Such processes include understanding the problem situations, examining root causes, clarifying contradictions, functional analysis of the system, generating solution ideas (by showing Inventive principles and examples for hints, etc.), structuring and evaluating ideas, etc.

(4) Especially, software tools based on Contradiction Matrixes (i.e., the one originally built by G. Altshuller and another recently revised completely by D. Mann as Matrix 2003/2010) can suggest Inventive Principles and illustrative patents which are relevant to the user's problem .

1.2 Forecasting and strategy making for developing new products/services

It is important but difficult for industries to foresee the future and to develop new, matching-to-the-needs products and services and their underpinning technologies.

Conventional forecasting techniques try to find the trends from the past to the present and to extend them to the future.  Such techniques are effective only in the range where the surrounding situations will not change so much and incremental refinements of current products/services will do.

How can we predict possible changes in the situations and create innovative products/services?  TRIZ has been challenging this problem. The TRIZ approaches may be outlined as follows .

(1) We analyze past trends and expect future changes in society, markets, technologies, etc. For this purpose we use various statistics and references, and considering the hierarchical structures among social environments - systems - components, we foresee the influences of societal changes and technological evolutions on the problem in the time axis.

(2) By examining the relationships among such trends and changes, we will be able to find new motions and some trends which encounter conflicts with one another in near future (or already at present).

(3) We understand such conflicts among major trends as cases of contradictions and try to find their solutions with the help of TRIZ.

(4) We should find solutions which will solve the conflicts and fit with other trends in society, market, technology, etc. and select and prepare for the ones appropriate for our own business and technological bases.

1.3 Supporting the overall processes of new product development and integral use of TRIZ with other techniques.

When we try to develop a new product/service and deliver it to a market, it is advised to use a combination of techniques including TRIZ, which are generically called as 'Design & development process engineering techniques'.  There are case-study reports of new product development where TRIZ and other techniques were successfully used in combination. The following way of integral use of those techniques is recommended, especially in Japan .

(1) To understand users requirements, it is recommended to use QFD (Quality Function Deployment). We should find what is the goal of development, what means are necessary, and what are the bottlenecks in the development. For finding customers' real requirements, the 'upward Why' analysis is also useful, where questions of 'for what purpose?' are asked several times.

(2) For achieving the development goal, we need to solve the bottlenecks, or crucial barriers/difficulties.  By applying TRIZ, we can clarify the difficulty as a contradiction, generate a variety of ideas for solving it, and build up new solution concepts with the support of up-to-date technical information.

(3) During the process of concretizing the solution concept, we need to design the system and set up appropriate values to various design parameters.  The Taguchi method is recommended for the process to choose a suitable set of parameter values which ensures robustness, i.e. stability against the changes/noise in the environmental conditions in the market.  During the process of Taguchi method, a number of experiments need to be conducted; if the model simulation with CAE is applicable it can shorten the process of physical experiments with real systems.

(4) In the process (1) described above, there is an alternative recommendation in USA that we should better find the Main Parameter of Value (MPV), i.e., a characteristic feature which is not yet realized in the conventional systems but can attract customers, once realized in a new product .

1.4 Extension of fields of application

1.4.1 Towards non-technical fields

The concepts and tools of TRIZ have been extended much towards their application in non-technical fields.  For instance,

(1) In the areas of IT/software: At the initial stage of TRIZ penetration, there were many people saying "Since TRIZ has been developed in the fields of 'hardware', it may not be applicable in the field of software where intangible information is handled." Nowadays, however, TRIZ is used effectively in the software fields as well.  This is based on the recognition that the concepts of systems, contradictions, Inventive Principles, etc. are common in the software and hardware fields .

(2) In the areas of the business, management, and psychology: TRIZ has been proved to be applicable in these areas, especially in the processes of problem analysis, system analysis (composed by humans, organizations, society, things, etc.), contradiction finding, solution generation (by use of Inventive Principles extended and adjusted for these areas), and building up conceptual solutions. Thus TRIZ has been used actively in its modified forms in these areas as well .

(3) In the area of bio-mimetics: The living things have the history of 3.5 billion years of evolution; creating and evolving a huge variety of materials, structures, functions, and environments for sustaining their lives.  Some of TRIZ researchers are working, in collaboration with researchers in biology, to study a wide range of systems (from macro to nano) evolved by the nature, especially under the comparison with human-made technical systems.  There are still full of mysteries and unknowns in their mechanisms.  Introducing the mechanisms in biological systems into human technologies may be an eternal task.

1.4.2 Application to complex, large-scale problems

The core technique of TRIZ is to identify the essence of problems (or difficulties) in focus and to solve it.  However, in the real world, for developing technologies and for solving problems related to society, environment, energy, etc., we have to handle complex situations where a lot of things and facts are involved.  As an extension of TRIZ for such a purpose, it is proposed to represent the situations in the form of Network of Problems (and partial solutions) and to derive Network of Contradictions for finding priorities in solving significant contradictions. The technique has been implemented in a software tool.

1.5 Easy methods for problem solving

The directions of TRIZ evolution mentioned so far try to extend and enrich TRIZ.   However, beginners and practitioners of TRIZ often comment that TRIZ is too complex and difficult to learn and apply even in its basic parts.  Thus there are different approaches to reduce and minimize TRIZ for making it easier to understand and apply.  Several of such approaches are:

(1) To select and simplify the techniques: The first approach is to pick up a few, easy-to-use techniques from the TRIZ toolbox and to teach and apply them only.  '40 Inventive Principles' are most popular in this sense. Contradiction Matrix is used to recommend several of Inventive Principles to apply in the contexts of Technical Contradictions.  The Separation Principle is useful similarly in the contexts of Physical Contradictions.

(2) To make the techniques/tools familiar: There are various proposals of improving the scheme of representing contradictions, so that users can easily understand the contradictions in their own cases and represent them clearly in the schematic diagrams.   Different practices are carried out to express the 40 Inventive Principles in familiar words and illustrations.  For example, they are made in cards and used, like a card play, in collaborative group works for idea generation .  There is a proposal of 'Invention Song' in which several Inventive Principles are expressed in the revised lyrics of a popular song so that it can become familiar even among children.

(3) Easy and unified process of problem solving: There are approaches to provide with a simple and unified process for problem solving by digesting TRIZ (and some other) techniques.  USIT (Unified Structured Inventive Thinking) is typical in this approach . It provides basic techniques of group work in the processes: (a) Define the problem, (b) Understand the present system (especially its mechanisms in terms of components, attributes, functions, space, and time), (c) Understand the ideal system (in the aspects of desirable behaviors and desirable properties), (d) Generate ideas for a new system (by use of 'USIT Operators', consisting of 32 sub-operators of universal applicability), and (e) Construct conceptual solutions on the basis of the core ideas.  It is a merit of USIT that since standard methods are applied consistently to the processes (a) to (d) the users can master them easily.

1.6 Restructuring the system of techniques and applying to education

A number of TRIZ textbooks have been published so far, some featuring in the basics of TRIZ, in the integration of TRIZ with relevant western methods, in the introduction of different new techniques mentioned above, etc.

Education of TRIZ is mostly directed to engineers and business persons. Trainings in industrial companies are carried out by using these new textbooks. In universities some lectures and training exercises are conducted in the subjects of problem solving techniques. Introduction of TRIZ more widely in the basic engineering education is also proposed in some universities. For much younger people, from high school students to kinder garden children, a number of trials have been made not to teach TRIZ itself but to convey the joy of thinking creatively and the attitudes of thinking for themselves.  Education in this style has been carried out in the former USSR countries.

2. Activities and Status of Penetration of TRIZ in the World

In this section, TRIZ-related activities and status of TRIZ penetration in the world are introduced.  Since 1990s TRIZ has been promoted principally by the tool vendors and consultants, who are TRIZ specialists originally from former USSR and TRIZ leaders subsequently appearing in the western countries. Most parts of the TRIZ evolution described in Section 1 were contributed by those people.  In addition, industries' activities of introducing and applying TRIZ, universities' activities of research, education, and collaboration with industries, and governments' activities of supporting have been contributing (or sometimes lacking in contribution) to the penetration of TRIZ in different countries.

2.1 Historical summary of TRIZ penetration in the world

Figure 2 summarizes the TRIZ penetration in the world in a history chart, showing approximate starting years of (a) introduction of TRIZ, (b) national or international organizations for promoting TRIZ, (c) national or international conferences on TRIZ, and (d) Web sites, etc. in various countries/regions in the world.

Fig. 2. History chart of TRIZ activities in the world.

2.2 In Russia region 

In the former USSR, the TRIZ mother country, TRIZ was most active around 1990 just before the collapse of USSR. It is told that at that time there were approximately 200 TRIZ schools, from official university laboratories to private groups, having about 7,000 active members all together in the country.  However, TRIZ had never been introduced officially in national organizations and enterprises. And hence the contributions of TRIZ to the USSR technologies were supposedly limited.  After the break-up of USSR, a large number of TRIZ experts emigrated to USA and Europe, but  many more TRIZ specialists remain and are still active

International Association of TRIZ (MATRIZ) was established in 1989. It has become active only recently since the latter half of 2000s, but is still an organization mostly operated by the TRIZ experts in Russia (and also Russian consultants living in USA, etc.).  MATRIZ is operating the TRIZ certification system based on classical TRIZ with the intention of making it a key to the penetration into the world. 

It is remarkable that experiences of creativity education to children (from kinder garden to elementary schools) have been accumulated.

2.3 In the United States 

In 1990s many TRIZ specialists immigrated to USA and started to develop TRIZ software tools and to do training and consulting for industries.  TRIZ software tools, being implemented with rich technical knowledge bases coming from patent analyses, attracted much attention in USA in late 1990s. Many big industries, e.g. Boeing, NASA, P&G, etc., introduced the TRIZ software tools and received in-company training for using them. 

Altshuller Institute for TRIZ Studies (AI) was established in 1998 in USA under the approval of Genrich Altshuller as an organization for promoting TRIZ in the (western) world. It started an international conference on TRIZ (i.e. TRIZCON) annually since 1999.  Earlier in 1996 a public Web site "TRIZ Journal" started its operation and publicly posted 5 to 10 papers every month, by the contribution of different authors.  TRIZ related activities in USA were quite active during the period from late 1990s to early 2000s, both by TRIZ specialists (e.g., tool vendors and consultants) and by industrial users.  And the TRIZ activities in USA gave influences on European countries, Japan, etc.

However, since late 2000s, TRIZ in USA has apparently shown the phenomena of fading out the boom, and is recently sluggish as far as seen in the public information.   "TRIZ Journal" quitted its public posting since 2010; restarting it, or establishing its successor, is discussed but not achieved yet.  TRIZCONs were held by Altshuller Institute every year in spring until 2010, but TRIZCON2011 was held, after several times of changing its planned dates and venue, in November in a smaller scale.   There are a number of US industries who utilize TRIZ actively (e.g. Intel , Honeywell , GE, etc.) but they hardly publish their activities in conferences.

Note:  Even though a number of TRIZ vendors and TRIZ consulting firms in USA are working actively in the global scale, the enthusiasm of USA industries to introduce and apply TRIZ seems to have faded out.  The reasons are not so clear.  Some speculations are:
US industries introduced TRIZ mainly as knowledge base tools, and later found their expectations that the tools could easily generate inventions were just illusions. 
The concepts and ways of thinking with TRIZ were not understood well.  
Russian consultants wanted to work in contract research without handing out the know-how of TRIZ ways of thinking to the industries. 
Research on TRIZ was not carried out effectively in USA universities.  
Russian TRIZ masters were apt to expel American TRIZ leaders out of public promoting organizations.  
American culture often appreciates successes by outstanding individuals more highly than the underpinning methodology.

2.4 In European countries 

TRIZ in Europe started a few years later than in USA, around 1997, under the influences by the USA TRIZ vendors.  In 2001, the TRIZ leaders of 5 European countries, i.e. UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, and Belgium, established European TRIZ Association (ETRIA). And ETRIA started its annual international conference (TRIZ Future Conference, ETRIA TFC) in 2001.   ETRIA TFC has been held in different countries in Europe, resulting in good influences on the TRIZ communities in the host countries.   In the TFC conferences, a large number of presentations have been made on academic researches on TRIZ, extension of TRIZ application areas, usage of TRIZ in industries, practices of applying TRIZ in SMEs, etc.  

The strength of European TRIZ is the fact that universities in each country do research on TRIZ and try to promote collaboration with industries and to enhance the university research through the practices in industries.  Among such universities are INSA Strasbourg (i.e., a graduate school) in France, Bath University (especially in bio-mimetics) in UK, Milan Polytechnic (especially in TRIZ application to design engineering) in Italy, Aachen University in Germany, Twente University in the Netherlands, etc.  

INSA Strasbourg invited a research group of OTSM (i.e., "General Theory of Powerful Thinking", an advanced theory which has extended and generalized TRIZ further), and established the Advanced Master Course specialized in OTSM-TRIZ.  The course requests their students to do joint research with industries, and has already generated several MC graduates and PhDs.  The INSA Strasbourg TRIZ team has digested the OTSM and developed their own methodology named IDM (Inventive Design Method) which can support real projects of technology development with newly developed software tools.

Activities of French Ministry of Education are also worthy of remarking. A high-level officer in the Ministry of Education, governing middle and elementary education, got interested in TRIZ in 2004 and moved the Ministry to start TRIZ education in high schools since 2009. All the high school students oriented to science and technology are now required in France to attend at the TRIZ classes for 20 hours. Now every year 17,000 high school students attend at the TRIZ courses, and hence 5,000 high school lecturers are trained in TRIZ for teaching such a number of students, I am told.  Teachers in high schools are rather perplexed with the new courses, but such an education will certainly give large effects on various aspects in future.

2.5 In Japan (brief summary) (see more details in Section 3.) 

Introduction of TRIZ in Japan started in 1996-97.  At the initial stage the TRIZ software tools from USA attracted much attention and were introduced by a number of big industries in Japan.  In early 2000s there were some phenomena of fading out of the boom, but TRIZ continued to penetrate into Japan.  In 2005 'Collaborative Board of TRIZ Promoters and Users in Japan (Japan TRIZ CB)' was established and it held the first TRIZ Symposium in Japan in the same year.   In 2007, as the successor of Japan TRIZ CB, the Japan TRIZ Society, NPO (JTS) was officially established as a national center for promoting TRIZ; annual TRIZ Symposia have been the main activities of JTS.   In Japanese industries TRIZ has been promoted mostly by the 'middle-up & down' ways, instead of company-wide top-down manner; this results in some weak points in TRIZ in Japan.

--- I will describe the TRIZ activities in Japan in more detail in Section 3 after explaining the activities in Korea and some other Asian countries.

2.6 In South Korea 

In South Korea, introduction of TRIZ started slightly later than in Japan.  In the very early stage of TRIZ introduction, a few big industries including LG and Samsung employed a few TRIZ specialists from the former USSR countries to learn and try to apply TRIZ in pilot projects.   In 2004 such projects produced remarkable results and the top management of Samsung made a decision to introduce TRIZ in a company-wide level. 

TRIZ promotion teams were formed in every subsidiary company of Samsung by employing a few TRIZ specialists from the former USSR countries. The teams applied TRIZ to various problems in real projects, while Korean team members learned how to use TRIZ on the job.  In 2006 e-learning program of TRIZ was uploaded in the intranet for making many engineers study TRIZ for themselves. TRIZ training was also carried out in a large scale and the engineers were put in competing situations with incentives.  The top-down style of TRIZ promotion in Samsung made TRIZ widely accepted and applied in the whole company. 

Such promotion of TRIZ has been carried out in several big industries in Korea, including LG, Hyundai Motors, POSCO, etc. Thus South Korea is currently the country that uses TRIZ far most actively in the world.  TRIZ is supposed to have contributed to the recent success of big Korean industries.

Korea TRIZ Association (KTA) was formed in 2005 as a voluntary organization. In 2010 another organization, Korea Academic TRIZ Association (KATA), was established by the support of big industries and started to hold a TRIZ conference named "Global TRIZ Conference in Korea".  Its third conference held in July 2012 was reported to have about 300 participants. 

A number of universities in Korea have regular classes on TRIZ. It is discussed to include TRIZ courses officially in the engineering curriculum.  POSCO (the big steel manufacturer) has opened 'TRIZ University' and gives intensive TRIZ training to engineers.

2.7 In other countries in Asia, etc. 

In China, the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Government noticed the importance of TRIZ as a 'method of innovation' and in 2007 assigned Heilongjian and Sichuan as the pilot regions for introducing TRIZ and also approved a number of pilot industries in the regions.  In 2008 Innovation Method Society (IMS) was established under the direct control of the Ministry of Science and Technology for promoting TRIZ in the whole country.   (According to the answer to an ETRIA world survey) in 2009 China had four research institutes each having more than 40 TRIZ researchers.  The promotion of TRIZ is expected to be enhanced much recently.

In Malaysia, TRIZ has been applied actively in the factories of Intel Malaysia for the purpose of quality improvement.  This matched well with the governmental policy of promoting ICT (Information & Communication Technologies) and innovation, and emerged an important movement since 2010.  In 2010 a three-party agreement was formed among Intel Malaysia, Malaysia Government (agencies of Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation and Ministry of Higher Education), and Malaysian universities.   "Universities set up the training seminars of their lecturers, while Intel Malaysia sends its TRIZ experts to the seminars for giving TRIZ training to the teachers without charge.  The Government encourages the universities to promote TRIZ. The university lecturers teach TRIZ and innovation methods to their students (and graduate students)."  This strategy of proliferating TRIZ is apparently very successful. The 2nd Malaysian TRIZ Conference held in November 2012 was quite active attracting a large number of participants from many universities and industries.  [Note (Nakagawa, Apr. 6, 2013): Slides of Dr. TS Yeoh's Keynote Speech at the Conference are now posted in this Web site both in English and in Japanese translation.]

The TRIZ activities in Iran are also remarkable.  A group of young TRIZ leaders produced video lectures of TRIZ and broadcast them on TV.  They also published articles in regular columns every week in newspapers and magazines, and broadcast on TV regularly every week in an education channel in the morning and also in a popular channel in evening talk shows on the topics related to TRIZ and innovation.  Consequently, TRIZ is now very popular among intellectual people in Iran, according to Mahmoud Karimi's Keynote Speech delivered at Japan TRIZ Symposium 2010.  They restarted the regular TV program in 2012 after some change in the presentation style, I am told.

In addition, TRIZ is now penetrating into Taiwan, Thailand, India, Singapore, etc. In such countries in Asia TRIZ is getting accepted passionately by some pioneering people.

More over, TRIZ has been introduced in Israel since early 1980s, and in Australia, Mexico, Brazil, etc. since mid 1990s. Thus today TRIZ has been penetrating in most of the countries in the world.

3. Activities and Status of Penetration of TRIZ in Japan

3.1 Overview

Introduction of TRIZ in Japan was initiated by the monthly journal "Nikkei Mechanical" in 1996-97.  Besides Nikkei BP, Professor Youtaro Hatamura of the University of Tokyo, Mitsubishi Research Institute (MRI), and SANNO Institute of Management, etc. played significant roles of introducing TRIZ. 

At the initial stage, TRIZ was introduce mostly through USA and was emphasized in the aspects of knowledge base tools, especially the usage of Contradiction Matrix and Inventive Principles.  Many big manufacturing companies (especially some senior engineers of such companies) showed strong interest in TRIZ, and the TRIZ software tools were introduced in Japanese translation in late 1990s. Some of basic TRIZ textbooks were published in Japanese translation, but the understanding of TRIZ in its philosophy and thinking ways was spread only slowly. It was unique in TRIZ activities in Japan that a public Web site "TRIZ Home Page in Japan", edited by Toru Nakagawa, has been posting many and up-to-date articles on TRIZ both in Japanese and in English and that USIT was introduced and enhanced as easy-to-learn TRIZ. 

In early 2000s, the phenomena of fading-out of the TRIZ boom happened in Japan just like in USA.  Nikkei BP became almost silent on TRIZ, and some people became to dislike TRIZ partly because of its complexity.  Nevertheless, TRIZ activities in Japan were kept going by Japanese translation of new TRIZ textbooks and by introducing papers presented at international conferences, etc.  Meanwhile TRIZ ways of thinking gradually penetrated into TRIZ promoters and users in Japan.

In 2004, an informal discussion group was formed by the leaders of TRIZ promoters under the leadership of industrial TRIZ users; and the group officially started 'Collaborative Board of TRIZ Promoters and Users in Japan (Japan TRIZ CB)' in 2005. Then the CB established 'Japan TRIZ Society, NPO (JTS)' in 2007 as the national center for promoting TRIZ. JTS is formed by the voluntary individuals who want to promote TRIZ in collaboration.  Japan TRIZ CB and later Japan TRIZ Society has held TRIZ Symposium in Japan every year since 2005; the symposium is primarily national and partially (but as much as possible) international, in nature.  The results of the Symposia 2005 - 2012 are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1. Results of Japan TRIZ Symposia 2005 - 2012

3.2 TRIZ activities in Japanese industries

A large number of Japanese industries, such as Hitachi group, Panasonic, Sony, Toshiba, Fuji Film, etc., have been working to introduce and apply TRIZ for many years.   However, during these 15 years, changing in the TRIZ leaders in each company has resulted in different situations.   Hitachi group companies have introduced, applied, and promoted TRIZ in the most active and advanced manner among Japanese industries.   Since 1997, Hitachi introduced not only TRIZ but also a set of 'Design & Development Engineering Process Techniques' and promoted them in a company-wide (or group-wide) scale by the 'middle-up & middle-down' leadership.  Hitachi has group-wide technical committees of principal techniques (e.g., TRIZ, QFD, Taguchi, etc.) for promoting and improving the application of each technique, and also has promotion members in each division of group companies.  They encourage the integral use of different techniques including TRIZ. They reported that TRIZ has been applied in over 4,500 real projects so far till 2011.

Panasonic Communications Co. (i.e., now Panasonic System Networks Co.) promoted in mid 2000s the combined use of QFD-TRIZ-TM-CAE in a company-wide scale.  They used TRIZ in all the phases of new product development, i.e., theme and strategy setting, plan, research, development, detail design, manufacturing, etc., adapting the TRIZ usage to each phase.  Especially they reported a case that they applied TRIZ to a real long-pending problem in a manufacturing factory and completely eliminated the NG cases in three months.

In Japanese industries TRIZ has been introduced mostly in the 'middle-up & middle-down' manner; i.e., middle-management leader(s) have the initiative to persuade and move higher/executive managers and also to encourage and lead members/employees.  Depending on the promoter's division, e.g. technology management division, research labs, engineering division, IP division, etc., the emphasis in the way of applying/promoting TRIZ may be different. But any division can lead the promotion of TRIZ.  Trial use of TRIZ in pilot projects, real challenge and coaching in real projects, organizing TRIZ study groups, etc. may be the typical activities.  It is desirable to have an organization (e.g., a specialist team, a department, etc.) engaged in the promotion of TRIZ and for top management of the division or the company to get involved in the TRIZ promotion.  It is often observed (in Japan and in the world) that when a TRIZ leader having passion and talent is moved elsewhere or has retired, the TRIZ activities of the company lose its vitality or even diminish shortly. Whether the company can cope with such a situation of change in leadership may be a key to get and keep the company's capability of innovation.

3.3 TRIZ activities in Japanese universities

TRIZ has been introduced in Japanese universities such as: Osaka Gakuin University (in classes and undergraduate thesis seminars), Kanagawa Institute of Technology (in project-based exercises for undergraduates and in seminar classes for graduate students), Kanto Gakuin University, Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology (in classes with practices), Waseda University (in classes and MC theses, and in theses work for industrial PhD candidates), Shibaura Institute of Technology, etc. There are some other classes and seminars conducted by visiting lecturers in Japanese universities. 

Even though all these classes have been taught as individual trials, some of the classes have published their lecture notes and experiences, which are useful as pioneering models of lectures and exercises. 

TRIZ-based creativity education of children up to high school students have not been tried in Japan. But very interesting trials were reported where a father guided his two sons of age 12-13 years in summer homeworks by applying TRIZ ways of thinking.


[1] "TRIZ Home Page in Japan", Editor: Toru Nakagawa. URL: .  A large number of TRIZ-related articles, in the forms of papers, communications, conference reports, etc. written by Japanese and overseas authors are posted actively and are accumulated for these 14 years.

Note (Nakagawa, Mar. 20, 2013):  For showing some references, a number of links to relevant English pages in the present Web site are added in this page.


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