TRIZ paper:  Future of TRIZ

Mapping the Un-Mappable:  The History Of TRIZ 2020-2030

Darrell Mann, Mubashar Rashid
    (Systematic Innovation, UK)
Systematic Innovation e-Zine, Issue 223, Oct. 2020, pp. 2-9

Expanded version of presentation given by Darrell Mann at TRIZCON2020 (Oct. 6-7, 2020, USA, Online)

Japanese translation and Notes by Toru Nakagawa (Nov. 24, 2020):

Posted: Nov. 25, 2020

For going to Japanese pages, press buttons. 

Editor's Note (Toru Nakagawa, Nov. 24, 2020)

This paper by Darrell Mann is an expansion of his presentation at TRIZCON2020, held online on Oct. 6-7, 2020.  I had a chance of listening his presentation video before TRIZCON and was impressed much.  So I asked and got permission from the author and TRIZCON for me to transcript the video and post the presentation slides and speech text both in English and Japanese translation in this "TRIZ Home Page in Japan".  (Transcripting is difficult for us and will take some more time.)
Meanwhile Darrell Mann wrote this paper as a manuscript of his SI e-Zine Oct. 200 issue, and send me a preprint. So I translated it into Japanese and obtained his permission of my posting the paper here both in English and in Japanese. I am grateful for the author and Altshuller Institute for their generous permission of my posting.  

In Japanese translation, I inserted short notes in [ ] and made Table of Contents.  In place of my introduction, please allow me to put the Table of Contents here.

Table of Contents: 

Mapping the Un-Mappable: The History Of TRIZ 2020-2030

[Crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic]      [Crisis and Innovation]

1. Societal Level Challenges

[Fall of dominos]      [Disaster Cycle and its 6 phases]  [Timing for Innovation]

2. Business Level Challenges 

[Mindset in 20th century was Efficiency, while in 21st century is Effectiveness][Complexity Landscape Model (CLM)]    
[K-shaped 3 patterns of company's future in crisis]

3. Innovation Challenges

[Operational Excellence and Innovation]        [Redefining the Innovation]
[Innovation Capability Maturity Model (ICMM)]
[Gartoner Hype Cycle and the position of TRIZ]    
[For TRIZ to successfully make it out of the Trough of Disillusionment ]
[Evolution direction for TRIZ and Systematic Innovation]   
[Strategy compatible with Complexity]    
[What TRIZ Community should do for 4-5 years from now]




Top of this page

Top of the paper

1. Societal Level Challenges

2. Business Level Challenges  3. Innovation Challenges


Original paper in PDF


Japanese page


  Paper           ==> PDF

Mapping the Un-Mappable:
The History Of TRIZ 2020-2030

Darrell Mann
Mubashar Rashid

(Expanded version of presentation given at TRIZCON2020)

"Merciless is the law of nature,
and rapidly and irresistibly
we are drawn to our doom."
Nikola Tesla


According to UN, the COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on the global economy and perhaps unleashing the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The pandemic has led to dire economic consequences across the planet. No country, no business and no population group are spared from the effects of the virus. Obviously, some are more resilient than other – yet the effects are felt strongly. Thriving industries as been turned upside down with massive layoffs, which enforce the negative spiral of dire consequences. For the ordinary man, the downturn came from nowhere and changed the face of life on our very own planet. At the time of writing, more than one third of the world's population is under lockdown impacting lifestyle, social life and even survivability for the most vulnerable groups. However, for the expert this pandemic should not be a surprise. The governing bodies of the world has had ample time to prepare for a pandemic, as its cyclic nature is evident throughout the history. How could we think that it would not impact us? Nevertheless, here it is and with crushing and destructive impact on how things are and how things will be. IMF suggests the global growth rate to be -4.5%. The UN estimated back in April that global unemployment will wipe out 6.7% of working hours globally – a staggering number equivalent to 195 million full-time workers. Models from World Bank suggests that for some regions, the economic recovery will not be achieved until 2025 or beyond.

As observed by John F. Kennedy and on a frequent basis by others after him, though incorrectly, the Chinese word for "crisis" is said to be composed of two words: danger and opportunity. The truth is that crisis present choices and the notion of survival drives increased innovation. TRIZ being a powerful framework for enabling new thinking and innovation thus – in theory at least – becomes even more relevant. However, before we discuss the topic of innovation and its TRIZ connection, let us dissect the current situation and identify the challenges we are facing both at societal and business level.


1.  Societal Level Challenges

Hypothesising the society as a complex emergent system would tell us there is much that cannot be predicted. However, this is not the same as saying that nothing can be predicted. By understanding the society from the first-principle level, we can acknowledge we are not completely lost as there is much that can be anticipated and predicted about our emergent future. Events happen at random, but the society's reaction to those events is not random. With this perspective, it is reasonable to claim that COVID-19 was not a black swan. Neither was the decision to not prepare for it. A pandemic outbreak at this scale was not unknown to the experts. Even we foresaw it using our 2009-published TrenDNA methodology (Reference 1). In addition to predicting the arrival of a 20-25 year 'Crisis Period' starting with 9/11/, the book also predicts that crisis will reach its climax over the period 2020-2025, before society settles down into what might be thought of as a new meta-level S-Curve.

Back in 2009 it wasn't possible to predict that it would be a pandemic that would trigger the climax of the Crisis Period, it was able to foretell that, because society has many wobbling dominoes during the Period, it only takes one to fall over to trigger the fall of many more. Thus, in the UK for example, the crisis is highly likely to grow bigger with the negative consequences of Brexit. Not to mention growing climate change issues. While it is difficult to predict when and where the first domino will fall, the sequence of the other falling is mappable.

The next 4-5 years will be worrying for many people on the planet. That said, it is also clear that there are always winners as well as losers during crisis periods. Periods of crisis tends to spark enormous amount of innovation. The types of innovation opportunity we can expect to see during next 5 years can be plotted using the Disaster Cycle. Before we sketch out our expectations, let us build on References 2 and 3 by taking a look at the Disaster Cycle and its phases:



Usually, as soon we have the impact (Phase 2), the survival kicks in and a lot of initiatives are launched to find new ways or different solutions to the cope with the disaster. However, mostly, all this effort leads to expedient invention. The real innovation, as we see it does not start until the "Disillusionment Period" (Phase 5) properly kicks in. This is in part because, after the heat of the moment, people are finally able to take a breath and actually start thinking about the problems that need to be fixed. But mainly it is because it is only during the disillusionment phase that the contradictions start to become clear. And as is commonly known in the TRIZ community, the vast majority of all actual innovations come when contradictions get solved. How far societies fall during the next 4-5 years will largely be determined by how well the emerging contradictions are or are not resolved. We talk more about this in Chapter 18 of Reference 4. Here, meanwhile, in keeping with the focus on TRIZ, we will zoom in and look at the world of business, the contradictions it is likely to face, and who the likely winners and losers are going to be in the coming years:


2.  Business Level Challenges

The business paradigm throughout 20th century has been efficiency – mostly disguised as standardisation and optimisation. Reference 5 reports on a number of pioneering organisations that have experienced the contradictions emerging from this paradigm and what the likely new post-Crisis business paradigm is going to look like:


20th century mindset…

21st century mindset…


Human beings at work are factors of production, charged with producing goods and services.

Human beings at work are factors of meaning creation, charged with improving quality-of-life for all.


In business, the primary challenge is to maximise operational efficiency by reducing variances and excising waste.

In business, the primary challenge is to maximise effectiveness by empowering people to do what's best for customers


Operational efficiency is maximised through stratification, formalisation and standardization.

Effectiveness is maximised by eliminating distance between employees and customers, turning employees into a coherent eco-system of entrepreneurs.

Companies has, being faithfully to their "business advisors", hammered out variation from their business and opted for such simplification, which reduced their prevailing complexity. This is fine as long as the environment also remains simple, but as soon as the environment shifts towards higher level of complexity, as described in our Complexity Landscape Model (CLM) (References 6-8),  the simplification inevitably pushes the business over the edge and into chaos. In other words, such simplification has made business vulnerable against change and stress from the environments.

According to Nassim Taleb, when businesses have become fragile and are highly prone to failure upon their first encounter with real change (Reference 9). While it may sound like most businesses are doomed, they can actually choose to respond by moving away from the 20th century paradigm and build in more resilience into the way they operate. The key differentiator here is how a business manages the complexity landscape within their structure and systems against the external environment. Using the Complexity Landscape framework, the ideal spot to be on the Golden Triangle, which enables a company to handle complex systems against a complex environment. Reaching this place, not surprisingly, requires a deal of internal innovation and innovation capability.

Inevitably, every expert has a view on the current crisis, the economic recession and possible recovery. We believe that the current crisis really emphasizes the survivability and recovery of a business in direct proportion to how resilient it is in its own management systems. As such, we believe this crisis will filter out the winners and losers based on principles in a K-shaped pattern in which we can see three Types of enterprise. Type 1 enterprises are those lucky enough to be in rising-tide industries and are able to adapt to the crisis and will therefore keep climbing and be successful. Type 2 enterprises, on the other extreme, will be those stuck in declining sectors and who cannot adapt and escape from old routines. Their most likely destination is collapse. Then there are the Type 3 enterprises. These organisations will be the ones to leapfrog to the next business paradigm s-curve, escape from optimisation dominated practices, and from complexity-incompatible command-and-control management, and become something close to anti-fragile. They will be the biggest winners coming out of the Crisis.

In more specific terms, the three Types presently look something like this:

So much for the likely evolution of the business world in the next 4-5 years. Let's now zoom-in one more time and look specifically at the world of innovation:


3.  Innovation Challenges

The past many decades demonstrated how fragile businesses have become by entirely focusing on the advisory and consultancy mantra of optimisation and simplification – often disguised as 'operational excellence'. While operational excellence is good in the true sense of becoming very good at the routines required to run your business, it often is mistakenly used to remove variations and simplify the business to the point that they are no longer capable of innovating. Unlike in Operational Excellence World, in Innovation World, variation is good. Innovation has been little more than a buzzword in most organisations for the past 40 years (Reference 10). Most likely because nearly all the people in the Board Rooms of the world got there by being Operationally Excellent, rather than breaking rules, disrupting continuity and risk-taking inherent to the innovation process. In practical terms therefore, the large majority of business leaders do not have a clue what real innovation is.

Let us take a step back and redefine the innovation. What is innovation? Without any doubt, innovation requires new ideas, but new ideas alone are not enough. Some would argue that the ideas need to be implemented into practice before it classifies as innovation. Now what if the implanted idea is a failure? Would it still be considered as innovation? We believe that innovation is solely "successfully" implemented ideas. The definition of successful can vary and depend on different factors according to different sectors – yet it would imply some kind of beneficial implementation contrary to the ideas which failed implementation.

When there is so many opinions and definitions of a word like innovation, it is beneficial to use a method to measure the Innovation Capability in a company. Innovation Capability Maturity Model (ICMM) (Reference 11) could be one such method to establish deeper understanding to how a business actually is performing with regards to innovation. In our ICMM, the result of 38 years of innovation battle scars and 11 million cases studies, we have defined five levels of maturity where Level 1 is the lowest and Level 5 is the highest. Here's how the world's enterprises break down across the five Levels:

The relevance of this picture to the TRIZ world is that the majority of the TRIZ tools and certainly it's overall philosophical pillars demand Level 4 capabilities in order to exploit them properly. This fact is probably not good for the immediate future of TRIZ. Later on, when the world has more Type 3 organisations – ones that almost by definition have achieved ICMM Level 4 or 5 status – then TRIZ tools and methods will in effect by  be the only game in town.

The fact that TRIZ currently over-shoots the capability of its market probably explains its position on a Gartner Hype Cycle (Reference 12):

According to this picture, sitting at the bottom of the 'Trough of Disillusionment', TRIZ is at its most vulnerable ever position. A majority of technologies and businesses fail to make it through this Trough. Fortunately for TRIZ, it contains a number of elements that are fundamental to the innovation process. The name 'TRIZ' might not survive into the long-term future, but the concept of contradiction-solving, for example, inevitably will.

If TRIZ is to successfully make it out of the Trough, the 'roll-up-the-slope' won't happen on its own. The TRIZ community has to come together and generate a greater pie instead of fighting over crumbs. The TRIZ providers need to apply TRIZ themselves. And naturally, the classic TRIZ (TRIZ 1.0) needs to evolve. Our own relationship with the TRIZ world has often been a tenuous one (it's no mistake that the word 'TRIZ' no longer features in the titles of any of our books). In part this is because we have always sought to apply TRIZ thinking to the evolution of TRIZ, and have thus sought to extend its capabilities into new areas and by integrating it into other tools, methods and thinking processes. Despite being wary of the labels (TRIZ doesn't belong to us!), we have over the past period been working with what might be thought of as TRIZ '2.0' and '3.0' levels (Reference 13). Today, now the world has a better understanding of how to operate in chaotic conditions, we're busy working to complete the transition to its '4.0' evolution paradigm:

Again, 'TRIZ' is not our word to play around with, so ultimately it is not up to us to decide if or how it is presented to the world in the coming years. Based on the last decade of working with hundreds of clients in over 50 countries, what we can say with a high degree of certainty however is that innovation demands complexity-compatible strategies, whereas too many TRIZ providers stuck in 'complicated' world. Further, the words 'Russian' and 'business' are oxymoronic, such that the 'TRIZ' word is pure poison in the Board Room. Alas, this is where the money required to innovate is located, and so becomes a core contradiction that needs to be solved.

So, where does that leave us?

A few things we can say with a high degree of certainty:

Just like everyone else, in other words, the TRIZ 'community' has 4-5 years to get itself in order, to re-invent how we work together and present ourselves to the world, to create as many Phase 5 Disaster Cycle Disillusionment-contradiction-solving success stories as possible, to help as many enterprises as possible to become Type 3, ICMM Level 4 innovators, and to get ready to rise, phoenix-like from the ashes of the old societal S-curve to take its place at the core of the new S-curve. Which means we have to collectively get out of our current ICMM Level 0 'start-up' position and to create resilient (nay, antifragile) business models (Reference 14). The prize is enormous. And it is ours for the taking so long as we keep it clear in our minds that the 'enemy' is not the other TRIZ providers, but rather the Operational Excellence consulting Goliaths – companies like DeLoitte, KPMG, Accenture and the like – that played such a major role in causing the Crisis the world is now in.



  1. Mann, D.L., Ozozer, Y., 'TrenDNA: Understanding Populations Better Than They Understand Themselves', IFR Press, 2009

  2. SI E-Zine, 'Crossing The Crisis Threshold', Issue 217, April 2020.

  3. SI E-Zine, 'Disaster Cycles & Innovation', Issue 218, May 2020.

  4. Mann, D.L., Ford, B., 'Everythink: A Gravesian Approach To Getting More Out Of Yourself And Your Relationships With Others', IFR Press, 2020.

  5. Hamel, G., Zanini, 'Humanocracy: Creating Organizations As Amazing As The People Inside Them', Harvard Business Review Press, 2020.

  6. Mann, D.L., 'A Complexity Landscape',, 31 March 2019.

  7. SI E-Zine, 'The Resilience Zone', Issue 205, April 2019.

  8. SI E-Zine, 'The Innovation 'Golden Triangle', Issue 206, May 2019.

  9. Taleb, N.N., 'AntiFragile', Allen Lane, 2012.

  10. SI E-Zine , 'Defining Innovation (40 Years Too Late)', Issue 221, August 2020.

  11. Mann, D.L., 'Innovation Capability Maturity Model: An Introduction', IFR Press, 2012.

  12. SI E-Zine, 'TRIZ And The Hype Cycle', Issue 85, April 2009.

  13. SI E-Zine, 'TRIZ 4.0', Issue 219, June 2020.

  14. Mann, D.L., 'The Hero's (Start-Up) Journey, IFR Press, 2020.


Top of this page

Top of the paper

1. Societal Level Challenges

2. Business Level Challenges  3. Innovation Challenges


Original paper in PDF


Japanese page


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