Learning and Applying the Essence of TRIZ with Easier USIT Procedure
Toru Nakagawa (Osaka Gakuin University),
Presented at ETRIA World Conference TRIZ Future 2001, Held at Univ. of Bath, Bath, UK on November 7-9, 2001. 
[Submitted to the Conference on May 16, 2001; Section 2 was posted separately in this site on May 22, 2001] [Posted here on Nov. 16, 2001]
  [Posted in Japanese translation on August 23, 2001]
For going back to Japanese  pages, press  buttons.

Preface(Toru Nakagawa, Nov. 16, 2001)

This paper was presented at ETRIA World Conference "TRIZ Future 2001" last week.  A personal report of the papers and discussions at the whole conference is separately written and posted today in this site in English.  I am grateful to ETRIA for their permission of posting the present paper in this Web site.

 Section 2 of this paper was separately posted in this site earlier on May 22, 2001 as "Essence of TRIZ in 50 Words", in English and in Japanese.  It was reposted in the TRIZ Journal, and will appear in Korean and in German translations soon, to my pleasure.  Japanese version of this whole paper was posted on August 23, 2001.

Contents of the paper:

1.  Introduction
   1.1  My Personal Experiences of Studying TRIZ
   1.2  Reasons for slowing the TRIZ penetration
2.  What is the Essence of TRIZ?
   2.1  Essence of TRIZ in 50 Words
3.  Necessity of Simpler Problem Solving Procedures in TRIZ
   3.1  How Should We Learn and Apply TRIZ?
   3.2  Traditional and Currently Predominant Approaches
   3.3  Approaches to Simplified TRIZ Procedures
4.  USIT as a Simplified TRIZ Procedure
   4.1  Problem Definition in USIT
   4.2  Problem Analysis in USIT
   4.3  Solution Generation in USIT
5.  Practices of Training/Applying USIT
6.  How Should We Teach/Learn/Apply TRIZ?
7.  How Should We Introduce TRIZ/USIT into Industries?

Top of this page 1. 
2. Essence of TRIZ 3. Simpler Procedure 4. USIT 5. Practices of USIT 6. How to teach TRIZ 7. How to Introduce TRIZ References Essence of TRIZ Japanese page 


Possible reasons for making the introduction of TRIZ into western industrial countries slow are discussed.  It is suggested that the presentation of the huge body of TRIZ knowledge and methodology has screened its essence and has overwhelmed the learners.  For solving this difficulty, the author's understanding of the essence of TRIZ is presented in 50 words and explained briefly.  The needs of simpler and clearer procedures are argued for solving problems creatively with the spirits of TRIZ.  The author finds that USIT (Unified Structured Inventive Thinking) developed by Ed Sickafus is a good candidate for such a simplified TRIZ procedure.  Hence he explains the USIT procedure in relation to the essence of TRIZ and demonstrates his practices of training/applying USIT in Japan.


1.  Introduction

TRIZ has been developed for over 50 years and well established in ex-USSR, but its introduction into the western industrial countries including Japan is still in its "infancy stage" and rather slow in spite of expectations by TRIZ specialists and enthusiasts.  This may be observed, for instance, in the number of participants to TRIZCON conferences for these three years (see [1] in my Web site "TRIZ Home Page in Japan"[2]).   Reasons for this difficulty in penetration need to be considered for overcoming the difficulty.

Let me write some of my personal experiences first:

1.1  My Personal Experiences of Studying TRIZ

In May 1997 I attended an Industrial Liaison Program Seminar given by MIT faculties to cooperative companies in Tokyo and happened to listen to an introductory lecture on TRIZ given by Dr. Mats Nordlund.  I was very much excited with the fresh information that the ways of invention had been studied systematically and established as a new methodology in the former USSR.  I thought the methodology would certainly give a big impact on technologies and industries, and started to introduce it in Fujitsu Labs for which I was working.

In October I arranged an in-company TRIZ seminar by inviting a TRIZ pioneer, and the lecture was given to 50 research managers for 2.5 hrs.  But the lecture was not easy to understand for most of the managers and resulted in their cool reactions.  This was my mistake in a hasty trial of introducing TRIZ at the stage when my own understanding of TRIZ was still much limited.

So I learned the usage of TechOptimizer by myself, wrote its manual [3], and gave seminars to several tens of researchers.  But I did not have enough time to train researchers into TRIZ practitioners and form organizational support, because in half a year I moved from the company to Osaka Gakuin University.  Without a succeeding leader the activities of introducing TRIZ in this company seem to have diminished, except some individuals studying by themselves.

Understanding of TRIZ in Japan around 1998 was based on a few textbooks translated from English and on TechOptimizer.  They were essentially based on the results of TRIZ obtained up to 1970s, and put much stress on databases, SuField analysis, 40 Principles of Invention, and Altshuller's Contradiction Matrix, etc.  Though they form important bases in TRIZ, they are old and much limited in comparison to the current understanding of TRIZ.  So my introductory article [4] written in 1998 reflected such a limitation in my understanding.

International TRIZ conferences in Nov. 1998 and Mar. 1999 helped me much understand the general scope of the TRIZ methodology and the current TRIZ-related activities in USA and other countries.  I also met Ed Sickafus in the conference of Nov. 1998 and learned USIT at his 3-day seminar in Mar. 1999.  USIT gave me a clear vision of easier application of TRIZ to actual problems and of conducting training seminars.  I wrote a number of articles [5-7] in my newly established Web site ("TRIZ Home Page in Japan") on the basis of what I studied through these conferences and seminars.

My visit to Russia and Belarus in August 1999 was also fruitful for me to get acquainted with people and their activities in the TRIZ mother countries, as I wrote in my trip report [8].  In such countries, many TRIZ experts moved from technology areas into non-technical fields and creativity education with applying spirits of TRIZ.  They use the TRIZ principles not at the superficial literal level but at the much deeper philosophy level.

My presentation [9] at TRIZCON2000 reviewed approaches of introducing TRIZ in Japan and advocated my own approach of learning and applying TRIZ by introducing USIT as the easier procedure for the problem solving [10].  This was based on my experiences of giving USIT seminars in Japan [11].

Then, working for full one year for the translation [12] of Yuri Salamatov's TRIZ textbook [13] from English into Japanese was also a valuable experience for me.  I learned many aspects of TRIZ research in the former USSR countries up to the recent days, such as evolution of systems, CID (Creative Imagination Development), etc.  I learned the philosophy of TRIZ much deeper in this textbook, and understood for the first time the dialectic way of thinking.

My presentation [14] at TRIZCON2001 was a side product of my translation work.  I came up with an idea of designing safer staircases of high-rise buildings in case of fire by preventing the chimney effects.  I obtained and described the solution in full length while applying TRIZ and USIT informally and intuitively.  I realized such free and informal usage of TRIZ should also be approved for practical applications.  In this presentation I showed a slide of Nakagawa's "Essence of TRIZ in 50 Words".

I have had a number of experiences of giving lectures and seminars of TRIZ and USIT [11], and also applying TRIZ and USIT to real and semi-real problems in collaboration with some engineers from industries.  But I still need much more experiences of applying TRIZ/USIT to real problems and of making the solutions realized in products.

As described so far, for these four years I have been devoting myself to understand and promote TRIZ.  I needed these four years for training myself to promote TRIZ.  I think that the penetration of TRIZ in industries means to create such engineers/scientists/managers who understand TRIZ in its philosophy and are able to apply it to their real problems practically.  It takes a few (or several) years to bring up one (or a few) such person(s) within each company and to prepare the organizational environments for promoting TRIZ in the company.  This kind of time period corresponds to the "infancy stage" of penetration of TRIZ in each country, I think.

1.2  Reasons for slowing the TRIZ penetration

Now let us come back to the consideration of main reasons for slowing the penetration of TRIZ:

It is slow not because TRIZ is poor in its contents, but because on the contrary TRIZ is extremely rich in its contents as methodologies and knowledge bases (I suppose everybody who learns TRIZ slightest will agree this statement).  The huge body of TRIZ appears in front of beginners as a large number of examples of amazing but tricky techniques.  For solving problems, it seems to be requested to learn many techniques, principles, and examples beforehand and to select some suitable ones to apply relying on a handbook (or software tool) or on the intuitive skill obtainable only after hard and long training.

This huge body of TRIZ knowledge has made it difficult to understand the essence of TRIZ.  The essence of TRIZ is even not stated well in many cases of textbooks and lectures.  The language barriers between Russian and English/Japanese etc. have enhanced this difficulty.

In comparison to the results of findings in TRIZ, such as principles and their examples, the way of thinking in TRIZ is more difficult to learn.  It is essential to have person-to-person training for learning the way of thinking.  Moreover, the problem solving methods in TRIZ, such as ARIZ [15] and Salamatov's recommended procedure [13], are too much complex for ordinary engineers to master in three-day training seminars and even in one or two years of succeeding self training.  Clearer and simplified procedures for solving problems creatively with TRIZ spirits are much desired (and I have found USIT [16] as the good candidate for this).

As candidates for TRIZ pioneers, TRIZ demands people having different backgrounds from those for quality control movements.  This is because QC movements have been based mostly on statistics (or data analysis) and organization theory (or organization management), while TRIZ is based on the technology itself.  So we need people having strong background in technology/science and in managing and promoting technology development in general.  This is the reason, I think, for the slow recognition of TRIZ by the traditional QC movements (this is especially true in Japan, and seems slightly different in USA).


2.  What is the Essence of TRIZ?

This question must be most basic and important for us to teach/learn TRIZ.  There are many important principles and methods in TRIZ, such as:

Any of these, however, is too huge to be regarded as the core essence of TRIZ.  Essence of TRIZ does not exist at this level of handbook-type knowledge, but exists much deeper at the philosophy level.

For extracting the essence of TRIZ, we should first understand the overall structure of TRIZ.  I understand that

TRIZ = Methodology + Knowledge base
and TRIZ has the following three aspects [9]:
  • Methodology (a): New view of technology
  • Methodology (b): Thinking way for problem solving
  • Knowledge Base: A collection of examples implementing the methodology (a) and (b)
  • This view makes it clear that the essence of TRIZ should be found in the Methodology (a) and (b).

    2.1  Essence of TRIZ in 50 Words

    The following is my current understanding of the Essence of TRIZ in 50 words:

    Essence of TRIZ: 

    Recognition that 
        technical systems evolve
             towards the increase of ideality 
             by overcoming contradictions
             mostly with minimal introduction of  resources. 

    Thus, for creative problem solving,
        TRIZ provides a dialectic way of thinking,
           to understand the problem as a system,
           to image the ideal solution first, and 
           to solve contradictions.

    I obtained this understanding mainly through my study of Salamatov's TRIZ textbook, and showed this compact statement for the first time as a slide in the presentation at TRIZCON2001 [14] and recorded it in my Editor's Note as the post-script of the TRIZCON paper in my Web site.

    Let me explain this 50-words statement briefly in a top-down manner:

    First of all, TRIZ is stated to be "a recognition", in other words, "a new view" of technology (i.e. Methodology (a) mentioned above).  By sharing this recognition, or by viewing technology from this point of view, we can reach a position of tremendous scope of not only technology but also science, society, our life, etc.

    The most important recognition is that "technical systems evolve".  We see technology mainly as technical systems.  Any system is composed of a number of components (i.e. subsystems) and their relationships and may be regarded as a subsystem of its super-systems.  Every technical system evolves, i.e. changes/develops in its history.  This evolution forms huge trends containing but overwhelming individual inventions.  The evolution may appear in different phases and different ways, such as birth, expansion, integration, convolution, etc.

    Technical systems evolve "towards the increase of ideality".  This recognition is called the Principal Law of Evolution.  Ideality is defined as "Principal function/(Mass + Energy + Size)" in Salamatov [13] and sometimes as "Useful function/(Cost + Harmful function)".  These definitions are qualitative in nature.  Main recognition here is that various forms of evolution can be viewed universally as movements in the direction of increase of ideality.  This recognition forms our basis of foreseeing and developing future technical systems.

    The evolution occurs only "by overcoming contradictions".  Contradictions appear first as the gaps between demands and supplies (or current technological performances).  Such contradictions are once recognized as obstacles/barriers, are compromised somehow for a while, and then are overcome by break-through inventions.  These inventions form the micro-steps of evolution in technical systems.

    Overcoming of contradictions are achieved "mostly with minimal introduction of resources".  Easy introduction of additional resources (such as substances, energy, and size) often complicates the systems and does not solve contradictions.  It is the TRIZ' recognition that contradictions are overcome only with no or minimal introduction of resources.  This corresponds well with the law of increase of ideality.

    On the basis of the recognition stated above, TRIZ wants to provide a methodology (i.e. a way of thinking) "for creative problem solving".  This is the principal aim of our developing and learning TRIZ.  Problem solving is most demanded for overcoming contradictions.  Since no solutions and no way of solutions are known beforehand for such contradictions, we have to solve them creatively.

    For creative problem solving, "TRIZ provides a dialectic way of thinking".  TRIZ provides us with a way of thinking, in its most general meaning.  Beyond various specific methods, heuristics, and tricks for problem solving, TRIZ shows us a new way of thinking.  It may be introduced as "a dialectic way of thinking" by using terminology in philosophy, according to Salamatov [13].  The main characteristics of this way of thinking are explained in the succeeding phrases, "i.e.":

    First, "to understand the problem as a system."  The objects of the problem should be regarded as (technical) systems, for which TRIZ gives deep insights as stated in the above recognition.  We should also understand that the problem itself forms a hierarchical system of problems.  With this understanding, we may have multiple and evolutionary view points of the problem and of its possible solutions.

    Second, "to image the ideal solution first."  This is of course based on the TRIZ recognition that the technical systems evolve towards the increase of ideality.  Since we know the direction of evolution, we should think of the solution image first.  We should image the ideal solution first, and then try to find the ways of achieving it, for example by tracing back to the present system step by step.  This recommends you a thinking process in the reverse direction, in contrast to the conventional way of thinking with trial-and errors starting from the present system.

    Third, "to solve contradictions".  Dialectic logic is often referred in philosophy with "solving the contradiction between a thesis and its antithesis by introducing their synthesis", even though the actual process for achieving it has not been explained well.  TRIZ, however, has succeeded in showing concrete guidelines (especially in the form of ARIZ [15, 13]) to solve contradictions in technical problems.  The core process is to derive (by reformulating the problem) a Physical Contradiction (i.e., a situation where an aspect of a system is requested in one direction and in its opposite direction at the same time) and to solve it with the Separation Principle.  Once a physical contradiction is derived, this solution technique is amazingly powerful to find break-through solutions.

    You should notice that the three characteristics of the dialectic way of thinking in TRIZ correspond very well with the TRIZ' recognition of the technical systems.


    3.  Necessity of Simpler Problem Solving Procedures in TRIZ

    With the understanding of the essence of TRIZ as stated above, let us think how we should learn and apply TRIZ in their three aspects.

    3.1  How Should We Learn and Apply TRIZ?

    TRIZ' new view of technology (i.e. Methodology (a)) can be (and should be able to be) learned with TRIZ textbooks, such as [13].  It is important to learn many facts and examples as well as the theories extracted in TRIZ.  Good textbooks will guide the readers to understand (or form in the readers' brains) the new view of technology.

    Knowledge bases were documented as handbooks in the former USSR and have recently been implemented into software tools.  This direction will be enhanced much along with the development of Information Technology.

    Then, how about the aspect of "Methodology (b): Thinking way for problem solving"?  Altshuller developed a variety of techniques and formulated ARIZ [15].  Mastering them is very difficult.  Altshuller wrote that ARIZ should be trained at least 80 hours in classes before applying it.

    Hence, how to teach/learn/apply the thinking way for problem solving in TRIZ is the main issue for us to promote TRIZ.  Now let us discuss about this issue:

    3.2  Traditional and Currently Predominant Approaches

    In [17] Alla Zusman wrote:

    "... Every time he developed a new tool, Altshuller intended that the new tool would be more powerful than the existing ones and would be able to replace them.  For various reasons, however, this would not happen.  ... it became evident that each tool had a different effectiveness ...  As a result, a great deal of time and effort was required for a TRIZ practitioner to be able to confidently apply numerous tools. ..."
    Then she and Ideation International Inc. have developed "TRIZ Tools Map" to clarify which tool should be used depending on the type of problem (or sub-problem) [17].

    Salamatov [13] categorized the methods according to the easiness for learning/applying and rebuilt a recommended procedure for applying various methods step by step whenever the easier methods do not give a satisfactory solution.  The procedure is outlined as:

    (1) Use solutions of similar problems.
          Use Altshuller's Contradiction Matrix and 40 Principles of Invention.
          Use Pointers to Effects from functions.
    (2) Use the first part of ARIZ to formulate a problem model.
          Use 76 Standard Solutions for Invention.
    (3) Use the second part of ARIZ to analyze the problem and to find Ideal Final Result.
          Use ordinary procedures (1)-(2) above.
    (4) Use the third part of ARIZ to solve the Physical Contradiction.
    (5) Reformulate (or change the view of) the problem and restart from Step (1).
    You may notice that each method (or sub-step) of this procedure requests much training and handbook-type knowledge.

    Under these situations, one apparent approach is to get support from software tools.  This type of approaches are promoted, e.g., by Ideation International Inc. with their Innovation Work Bench [18] and by Invention Machine Corp. with their TechOptimizer [19], and are predominant at present.

    However, for ordinary users who do not master TRIZ enough, these software tools are weak, frustrating, and tedious as a guide for the way of thinking and are useful only as convenient handbooks.  This weak point of the currently predominant approach seems to me a big reason for the slow penetration of TRIZ in industries.

    3.3  Approaches to Simplified TRIZ Procedures

    An alternative approach is to simplify the procedure itself.  While keeping the philosophy of TRIZ and adopting/adapting some of TRIZ methods, a procedure for problem solving should be designed with integrating some new/other methods, so as to be easy and effective to teach, learn and apply.

    Such an approach was actually taken first in early 1980s in Israel.  It seemed to happen at the first chance when Russian TRIZ experts met western industrial businesses.  Filkovsky taught TRIZ there and found the necessity of simplifying the procedure.  Thus he designed SIT (Systematic Inventive Thinking), in which the problem solving techniques were reduced into only four in comparison with the 40 Principles of Invention.  The SIT method was compactly documented later by Horowitz and Maimon [20] with a special emphasis on the experimental proof of their hypothesis of sufficient conditions for solutions to be inventive.
    In 1995, Ed Sickafus adopted SIT and refined it into USIT (Unified Structured Inventive Thinking) at Ford Motor Co.  His reasoning for introducing SIT instead of TRIZ and for refining SIT further into USIT are reported in [21].  Activities of his USIT team were reported in [22]; they seem to be the most successful case of introducing TRIZ-related methodologies.

    Nakagawa learned USIT in 1999 and introduced it into Japan.  Since I found it very easy and effective to learn and apply, let me explain it in more detail in the next section.


    4.  USIT as a Simplified TRIZ Procedure

    Sickafus wrote an intensive textbook of USIT [16] but no compact papers of the methodology itself.  Nakagawa's articles may be handy references on USIT methodology [10] and on USIT case studies [5, 6].

    USIT is a clearly defined procedure for creative problem solving.  The whole USIT procedure is  shown as a flowchart in Fig. 1.

    Fig. 1:  Flowchart of the USIT procedure

    USIT has three stages:  problem definition, problem analysis, and concept generation.  This procedure is best carried out by cooperative work of a team having members of subject-matter engineers and USIT practitioners.

    Sickafus [16] introduced the concepts of Objects, Attributes, and Functions and used them in a unified way in designing and explaining his whole procedure.  His emphasis is on the introduction of Attributes, i.e. categories (and not values) of properties of objects.

    4.1  Problem Definition in USIT

    At the stage of problem definition, the team are requested to clarify the following items:

    Fig. 2:  Example of the output of the problem definition stage [6]

    The result of this stage may be brief and simple as demonstrated in Fig.2, which I obtained [6] at Sickafus' USIT Training Seminar.  It is requested to state the problem clearly by reviewing the problem as a system and by focusing on the most important issue.  The sketch is the means to illustrate the working/failure mechanism of the system in the problem.  Plausible root causes should be revealed and examined beforehand in real situations or in model experiments.  If they are not specifically clear, you should list up plausible ones by considering the relevant objects one by one.  Selection of the minimal set of relevant objects is the basis for the later analysis especially with the Closed World Method.

    4.2  Problem Analysis in USIT

    For the problem analysis stage, USIT has two principal methods and one subsidiary as shown in Fig. 1.  The Closed World Method is the approach to analyze the present system first, whereas the Particles Method is to image the ideal solution first.  Either one of these may be selected to use depending on the nature of the problem, and moreover the other one may (and may not) be used afterward.  The Space/Time Characteristic Analysis (or "Uniqueness" in Sickafus' terminology) should be used at the finishing phase of the analysis stage.

    In the Closed World Method, the team is requested to draw a Closed-World diagram for revealing the functional relationships among the minimal relevant objects.  A strict guideline is set here: to place the most important object at the top, and then to show subsequent objects in favorable relationships to the upper ones, and write the name of the function.

    For instance, the Closed World Diagram for an light bulb is shown by Sickafus [16] as below.  Thus, the TRIZ' textbook problem of a light bulb for a lunar explorer can be solved without fail, he says (i.e., no need of the glass globe on the Moon).

    Fig. 3:  Closed World Diagram for a light bulb [16]

    Then the team is requested to list up various attributes of the objects, and classify them with respect to increasing/decreasing relationships to the system's problematic effect (or otherwise, system's principal function).  This relationship is used intensively in Israeli SIT to think of any possible solution which involves qualitative change in the relationship [20].  But USIT puts less weight on the requirement of the qualitative change and more weight instead on listing up various attributes relevant to the problem.

    The Particles Method is a refined version of Altshuller's Smart Little People's Modeling.  Figs. 4 and 5 show examples of the analysis with this method for the problem shown in Fig. 2.

    Fig. 4:  Example of the sketches in Particle's Method [6]

    In this method, you should sketch the present situation by focusing on the problem mechanism (Fig. 4a).  Then you are requested to sketch the ideal situation itself, without trying to draw any means and mechanism to achieve it (Fig. 4b).  Then, by comparing the two sketches, draw x marks at the positions where you see differences (Fig. 4c).  These x marks are called "Particles".  Particles are regarded as magic substances/Fields which may have any desired property and can perform any desired action.

    Fig. 5:  Example of the Action-Property diagram in Particle's Method [6]

    Then, you should try to think what kind of actions you would like them to perform, and write them down by breaking into possible elements of actions as shown in the top half of Fig. 5.  You should use plain, non-technical terms in this description in order to avoid from being trapped by psychological inertia.  Then you should list up properties possibly relevant to achieve each element of actions, as shown in the bottom half of Fig. 5.  While writing these diagrams, you would often image various elements of ideas for solutions.

    The Space/Time Characteristics Analysis is the process to select some suitable axes (not necessarily linear ones) characteristic to the problem, and to show the dependence of the problematic effects (or the system's performance) on such axes.  This process urges us to consider unique features of the system and makes us possible to find some clews to apply the Separation Principle, even by skipping the TRIZ process of deriving Physical Contradictions.

    4.3  Solution Generation in USIT

    In the solution generation stage, USIT provides four techniques; i.e.

    These methods should be applied repeatedly to all relevant objects, attributes, and functions which have already been listed in the analysis stage.  Every application might give you some hints of ideas; thus you would possibly obtain a large number of solution concepts.

    Generification is a simple yet very powerful method.  By rephrasing some words in a concept with more general words, you can get a wider concept and may think of a number of different concepts at the original level of concreteness.  In this manner, you may expand your ideas, and at the same time you may find some hierarchical system of your concepts.  This method is sometimes called Mind Mapping [23].

    As described so far, USIT has modified various methods (mostly of TRIZ origin) for problem solving and integrated them into a compact procedure for creative concept generation.  You may find that almost all heuristic TRIZ techniques relying on handbook-type knowledge have been omitted (or reduced into its philosophy level).  Thus USIT does not use any handbook or software tool.  However, you would notice, I hope, that USIT is a procedure for creative problem solving which implements the essence of TRIZ in the sense as stated in Section 2.


    5.  Practices of Training/Applying USIT

    Application practices in the USIT Training Seminar conducted by Sickafus were exciting and productive for me to get two case studies as reported in [5] and [6].  (Note:  Before that seminar, I read most part of the USIT textbook.)  So only after a bit of preparation, I started conducting similar 3-day USIT Training Seminars in Japan [11].  Its time schedule is shown in Fig. 6.

    Fig. 6:  Program of 3-day USIT Training Seminar [11]

    In the morning of the first day, introductory lectures are given on TRIZ and then on USIT, assuming no prerequisite knowledge of these methods.  Then, two days and half are spent to work together in groups to solve real brought-in problems by applying the USIT procedure step by step.  My initial intention was to reduce lecture time at the minimal level and to spend more time in practices to find suitable and practical ways of applying USIT together with the participants.  In fact, the length of two days and half was found suitable and necessary to solve real problems with a satisfactory level of understanding and results.

    Participation of 9 to 20 engineers is suitable.  They are requested to bring in their own real problems (but non-confidential ones in case of an open seminar).  After briefly introducing themselves and their problems, the whole group select four (or three) problems to work on (often by voting in case of an open seminar) and form groups of three to five members.  It is advised to form each group with members having multiple views and backgrounds.

    The group practices are carried out in five sessions corresponding to the steps of USIT.  Each session is composed of

    This scheme was adopted from Sickafus' seminar, and found very effective to make the participants highly motivated.  Every participant solves one problem in a group, and also joins the presentations and discussions of all the problems.

    All problems are analyzed with the Closed World Method and the Particles Method in sequence.  For the concept generation stage, two sessions are used.  First to generate solutions with the results of the Particles Method and the Space/Time Characteristics Analysis rather freely, and then to apply the four solution techniques more closely with the use of the results of Closed-World Method.  Further, Generification is applied, and finally some most promising concepts are selected and enhanced by considering the possible solutions to subsidiary problems.

    As the results of the 3-day seminars, all the problems were solved successfully with several to nearly twenty solution concepts.

    In Japan, USIT has been evaluated highly by the participants of my lectures and training seminars:

    Examples of using USIT have been explained in Sickafus' textbook [16], and in a few of my articles [5, 6, 14].  Case studies of applying USIT to real problems need to be published in future.


    6.  How Should We Teach/Learn/Apply TRIZ?

    In this paper, I have been saying that the essence of TRIZ is surprisingly simple and that USIT is a much simplified procedure implementing the essence of TRIZ.  With this understanding, what and how should we teach and learn concerning TRIZ?

    First, I do not think it effective, suitable or productive to teach/learn only the top theory (i.e. the essence) of TRIZ without teaching/learning various examples and extracted principles.  TRIZ has been developed in a bottom-up, inductive manner.  TRIZ has its strength in this point.  Trying to accept the top theory as a given statement would fail in the most important basis as a science.  Thus we should learn a lot of facts and knowledge bases (and how they were extracted/induced) by use of textbooks, handbooks, and software tools, and then we gradually understand its essence in our mind and form our own basis for applying it and for understanding further.

    For the aspects of "Methodology (b): thinking way for problem solving", we need some more discussions.  Thinking way is useful only when it is actually used in one's mind (with or without using tools).  Thus I feel it not productive to put too much stress on teaching/learning handbook-type heuristics and formal procedures in traditional TRIZ training.  We should better understand the philosophy (or generalized principles) of such heuristics/procedures.

    To make the discussion clearer, I would like to take an example in the method of solving contradictions.  Solving contradictions is the core essence in TRIZ.

    TRIZ recognizes  three types of contradictions, i.e. Administrative Contradictions, Technical Contradictions, and Physical Contradictions.  In 1970s Altshuller made much efforts for solving Technical Contradictions with his Contradiction Matrix and 40 Principles.  Then these methods became not being stressed, because 76 Standard Solutions were found smoother to apply.  (Salamatov wrote that in each Standard Solution any contradiction does not appear clearly because it has been overcome already.)  Then ARIZ-85 appeared as a procedure in which the problem is reformulated step by step through Technical Contradictions into a Physical Contradiction, which can finally be solved with the Separation Principle.  This is the final method in the traditional TRIZ, only for historical reasons.

    I understand the importance of the Physical Contradiction and the Separation Principle.  However, it is very difficult and tedious for me to remember and follow the formal procedure of ARIZ-85.  It should be all right if we find Physical Contradictions much more directly or if we apply the Separation Principle even without noticing the Physical Contradiction clearly beforehand.

    In my presentation [14] at TRIZCON2001, I reported my real case of applying TRIZ and USIT informally and intuitively without following their formal procedures.  I believe such kind of usage is often done by TRIZ (or any other) specialists in their mind.

    So I think we should teach/learn/apply TRIZ/USIT methods in the forms as simple as possible.  They are good for beginners.  And experienced practitioners may be able to use their skill (or methodological knowledge) fully and additionally in such simple procedures.


    7.  How Should We Introduce TRIZ/USIT into Industries?

    In the Keynote Speech at TRIZCON2001, Don Clausing [24] recommended to use TRIZ in the technology strategy phase and creative work phase in the technology development, rather than in trouble shootings of products.  And he also recommended to use TRIZ in an integrated way together with other quality development tools in the general framework of his Total Technology Development.

    I mostly agree with his framework, but we need to consider more closely how to use TRIZ in such framework of Total Technology Development.  At the present stage without such general understanding, I disagree with him especially when he recommends to implement TRIZ in industries with more top-down style organization.

    At the present stage, we TRIZ specialists/promoters have not yet found the effective ways of teaching/learning/applying TRIZ.  Thus, we should better be slow in implementing TRIZ.  For a few more years, in the "Infancy Stage" of the penetration of TRIZ, we should better take the "Slow-but-Steady Strategy" [9].  When our ways of teaching/learning/applying TRIZ become effective in the real world, we will naturally reach the "Emerging Stage"; then we will safely implement TRIZ (or refined TRIZ) in industries in more organized ways.



    [1] Nakagawa, T., 'Personal Report of TRIZCON2001: The Third Annual Altshuller Institute for TRIZ Studies Conference', TRIZ HP Japan, April 2001 (J & E).

    [2] Nakagawa, T., ed., 'TRIZ Home Page in Japan', WWW site, (in English), (in Japanese).  (Note: These are abbreviated here as 'TRIZ HP Japan'.)

    [3] Nakagawa, T., 'Software Tools for TRIZ -- Mechanism, Usage, and Methodology Learning -- Invention Machine's TechOptimizer Pro Version 2.5', originally written in February 1998 in Fujitsu Labs.; TRIZ HP Japan, November 1998 (J), February 1999 (E).

    [4] Nakagawa, T., 'TRIZ: Theory of Inventive Problem Solving  -- Understanding and Introducing It --', Bulletin of Cultural and Natural Sciences in Osaka Gakuin University, No. 37, September 1998, pp. 1-12. (J); TRIZ HP Japan, November 1998 (J), February 1999 (E).

    [5] Nakagawa, T., 'USIT Case Study (1) Detection of Small Water Leakage from a Gate Valve', TRIZ HP Japan, July 1999 (J), August 1999 (E)

    [6] Nakagawa, T., 'USIT Case Study (2) Increase the Foam Ratio in Forming a Porous Sheet from Gas-Solved Molten Polymer', TRIZ HP Japan, July 1999 (J), August 1999 (E)

    [7] Nakagawa, T., 'Let's Learn 'TRIZ'! -- A Methodology for Creative Problem Solving'. Plant Engineers, Vol. 31 (August 1999), pp. 30-39. (J); TRIZ HP Japan, September 1999 (J), October 1999. (E)

    [8] Nakagawa, T., 'Report of A Personal Trip to TRIZ Mother Countries (Russia & Belarus, August 1999)', TRIZ HP Japan, August 1999 (E), September 1999. (J)

    [9] Nakagawa, T., 'Approaches to Application of TRIZ in Japan', paper presented at TRIZCON2000: The Second Annual AI TRIZ Conference, April 30 - May 2, 2000, Nashua, NH, USA, pp. 21-35; TRIZ HP Japan, May 2000 (E), February 2001 (J).

    [10] Nakagawa, T., 'USIT: Creative Problem Solving Procedure in Simplified TRIZ', Design Engineering (JSDE), Vol. 35, April 2000 (J); TRIZ HP Japan, April 2000 (J & E).

    [11] Nakagawa, T., 'USIT Training Seminar in Japan: (2) 3-day Seminar with Multi-company Engineers', TRIZ HP Japan, February 2000 (J), March 2000 (E)

    [12] Nakagawa, T. and Souchkov, V., 'Salamatov's TRIZ Textbook: Japanese Edition and Q&A's on the English Edition', TRIZ HP Japan, November 2000. (E & J)

    [13] Salamatov, Y., 'TRIZ: The Right Solution at the Right Time', (Insytec, 1999); (Japanese Edition) Nikkei BP, November 2000.

    [14] Nakagawa, T., 'Staircase Design of High-rise Buildings Preparing against Fire - TRIZ/USIT Case Study -', paper presented at TRIZCON2001: The 3rd Annual AI TRIZ Conference, March 25-27, 2001, Woodland Hills, CA; TRIZ HP Japan, April 2001 (E & J).

    [15] Altshuller, G.S., 'The History of ARIZ Development', Journal of TRIZ 3, No. 1, 1992; English translation by Zlotin, B. and Zusman, A., Technical Papers, Ideation International,

    [16] Sickafus, E.N., 'Unified Structured Inventive Thinking: How to Invent', (NTELLECK, Grosse Ile, MI, 1997), 488p.

    [17] Zusman, A., 'TRIZ in Progress, Part I: Roots, Structures and Theoretical Base', paper presented at TRIZCON99: First Symposium on TRIZ Methodology and Application, March 7-9, 1999, Novi, Michigan.

    [18] Ideation International Inc.,

    [19] Invention Machine Corp.,

    [20] Horowitz, R. and Maimon, O., 'Creative Design Methodology and the SIT Method', paper presented at DETC'97: 1997 ASME Design Engineering Technical Conference, September 14-17, 1997, Sacramento, California; TRIZ HP Japan, March 2000 (J).

    [21] Sickafus, E., 'A Rationale for Adopting SIT into a Corporate Training Program', paper presented at TRIZCON99: First Symp. on TRIZ Methodology & Application, March 1999, Novi, Michigan; TRIZ HP Japan, May 1999 (J).

    [22] Sickafus, E., 'Injecting Creative Thinking into Product Flow', paper presented at First TRIZ International Conference, November 1998, Industry Hills, California; TRIZ HP Japan, January 1999 (J).

    [23] Kowalick, J., 'Problem-Solving Systems: What's Next after TRIZ? (With an Introduction to Psychological Inertia and Other Barriers to Creativity)', paper presented at 4th Annual International TPD Symposium - TRIZ Conference, Industry Hills, California, November 17-19, 1998, pp. 67-86; TRIZ HP Japan, January 1999 (J).

    [24] Clausing, D.P., 'The Role of TRIZ in Technology Development', paper presented at TRIZCON2001: The 3rd Annual AI TRIZ Conference, March 25-27, 2001, Woodland Hills, CA.

    About the Author

    Toru Nakagawa is currently 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 Nov. 1998 he founded the public WWW site "TRIZ Home Page in Japan" and serves as the Editor.

    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.
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