|TRIZ Introduction Paper||
|Let's Learn 'TRIZ'! -- A Methodology for Creative Problem Solving|
| Toru Nakagawa
Plant Engineers, Vol. 31 (August, 1999), pp. 30-39 (in Japanese)
|Published in this "TRIZ
Home Page in Japan" in Japanese on Sept. 6, 1999 under the permission of
Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance;
Translated into English by Toru Nakagawa and published here on Oct. 1, 1999 under the permission of JIPM.
Preface for posting here in English (Toru Nakagawa, Oct. 1, 1999)
This paper was originally writen in early July this year, on a request by the Editorial Board of a monthly Japanese journal "Plant Engineers". Following the Editor's request, I wrote this article towards the people who are going to read about "TRIZ" for the first time, without any prerequisit knowledge. Since I wrote last May the introductory paper "TRIZ: Theory of Inventive Problem Solving -- Understanding and Introducing It", more than one year had passed. And I was thinking it needed for me to write a new introductory article with latest information and from updated viewpoints. So I wrote this. This paper was published in the JIPM's journal in three weeks after I submitted it, and was posted in Japanese in this "TRIZ Home Page in Japan" in one month after the publication under the permission of JIPM. Then, I have translated it into English with some support by JIPM and am now posting it here in the English page with a delay of only one month. This paper is posted in the "TRIZ Introduction" page in my WWW site as a newly rebuilt entrance to TRIZ for readers in Japan and in the world.
We are very
Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance (JIPM), Tokyo, Japan http://www.jipm.or.jp/en/ (in English)
for their timely and quick publication of the paper and for their permission of posting the paper on "TRIZ Home Page in Japan" in Japanese and in English.
This English version will also appear in JIPM-TPM (i.e., JIPM's bimonthly pamphlet for oversees affiliates) in mid October. We are thankful for JIPM for their kind permission of my posting this English version here earlier for the sake of readers in the World.
A new methodology
called "TRIZ" is getting popularity in the world and in Japan for creative
technology development. TRIZ is useful for generating creative solutions
with shorter period of time and is expected to give a huge impact on industries.
The present article introduces TRIZ to beginners, by describing its unique
history of 50 years, its findings and techniques, examples of application,
and recent movements for wider technological introduction. The present
author recognizes the important role of TRIZ and recommends "slow-but-steady
strategy" of introducing TRIZ into Japanese industries.
of Dr. Toru Nakagawa:
(Professor, Preparatory Office for Faculty of Information Science, Osaka Gakuin University)
Graduated the University of Tokyo in chemistry in 1963, studied at its doctoral course, became Assistant in Department of Chemistry, the University of Tokyo in 1967 and did research in physical chemistry. Joined Fujitsu Limited in 1980 as a researcher in information science at IIAS-SIS and later served as a managing staff in R&D Planning and Coordination Office in Fujitsu Labs. Moved for the present position in April 1998. Is serving as the Editor of "TRIZ Home Page in Japan" since November 1998.
|Top||1. Introduction||2. Philosophy and methodology system||3. Modernizing approaches||4. Examples of Application||5. Introducing into industry||6. Roles of TRIZ||References|
'TRIZ'! -- A Methodology for Creative Problem Solving
1. "TRIZ": A New methodology for Probelem Solving
1-1 Demands of creativity and "inspiration"
Competitions in technologies and services are getting more and more severe in the global scale. This is an era of crises and yet an era of oppotunities. In any field of technologies and services, only the ones who could solve current problems by creating new ideas and implementing them quickly can survive. The ability of creative problem solving is the indispensable basis for organizations and individuals.
The creative ability for individuals and the capability of problem solving for organizations, however, are both abstract capability fundamentally based on human mind. Even highly educated technologists and researchers in various specialities are not always creative enough.
For creation, the "inspiration" is often required. Individual technologists and researchers are accumulating knowledges and experiences in their speciality like chemistry, machinery, computer science, etc. but at the same time they are often losing creative abilities, it is said. Then, how can we increase the "creative ability" in ourselves? Apart from elete child education in various fields of arts, we do not know much about the methods of making ourselves more creative. How we can obtain the "inspiration" we have rarely learned as a concrete methodology, except in forms of spiritual lessons and know-hows.
1-2 Birth of TRIZ
Recently "TRIZ" (pronounced as /tri:z/) has been remarked to have a possiblity of dramatically chaging this situation. "TRIZ" is the English way of writing the Russian abbreviation for "Theory of Inventive Problem Solving". In 1946, a young technologist Mr. Genrich Altshuller (1926-1998) in the former USSR got the first ideaof TRIZ, and he had developed and practiced it for these 50 years together with his students and followers.
After the end of the Cold War, a number of TRIZ specialists emigrated to Europe, the United States, etc.; thus people in the western countries came to learn it. Since around 1992, activities of consulting and software tool development of TRIZ have started in USA. Recently TRIZ has been introduced into a number of big companies in the US. In Japan, TRIZ has been introduced and promoted since around summer, 1997.
1-3 References and information on TRIZ
TRIZ has the history of 50 years of development in the former Soviet Union and has accumulated a lot of methodologies and knowledge bases. Nevertheless, mostly because of the language barriers, it has been introduced in English and in Japanese only partly. Very few introductory articles and textbooks are published so far in these languages.
Under these current situations, in
order to understand TRIZ in general and to obtain latest information of
it, home pages of WWW sites are most useful. Especially, "TRIZ Home Page
in Japan" is being published (both in Japanese and in English) on a
non-profit basis by the present author as the Editor and contains rich
and latest information. In English, the "TRIZ Journal" is the principal
Web site published on a non-profit and global basis. On these Web sites,
you can obtain rich information on textbooks, introductory articles, referecnces,
links to WWW sites in Japan and the world, TRIZ software tools, training/consulting
firms, etc. Almost all of the topics mentioned in the present paper are
posted in more detail on the "TRIZ Home Page in Japan" (including the present
author's paper  written last year).
2. Basic philosopy and the system of methodology of TRIZ
2-1 History of TRIZ: first idea and its development
Altshuller obtained the initial idea of TRIZ when he was at the age of 20 and working as a patent staff in the navy. By reviewing a large number of patents, he recognized some patterns in the ways of problem solving (or among the solutions) even among unique and original inventions. Then he thought: "Once we analyze a large number of good patents and extract their patterns of problem solving, people can learn the patterns to obtain the capability to solve problems creatively (i.e. creative capability)". Then he actually started the analysis.
He wrote a letter to Stalin on this idea as a proposal. As the answer to it, he was later arrested as a person against the constitution and was sent to a concentration camp. Under the severest conditions in the camp, he met a number of researchers and technologists and became much more convinced in his thought. After being released in 1954, he wrote his first paper and books, taught people, continued his analysis, and built it up into a methodology.
In the 1970s he opened a TRIZ School in Baku and taught several tens of students. Some good students became his associates, and the students spread over in the former USSR; the teaching and practices of TRIZ were continued in this manner. The philosophy of Altshuller, however was never welcomed by the authorities. So his TRIZ school was not operated officially, but on some unofficial and grass-root basis.
Industrial engineers and university students came voluntarily to learn in his school for two months in shorter seminars and for two years in longer courses. (At a conference in March 1999 the present author watched a TV video film of Altshuller's class in 1974; this 30-minute film was directed by Altshuller for himself. I was much impressed with his energetic and insightful way of teaching.)
Altshuller worked with putting much weight on the education and real practices, and seeked for a methodology and a system of knowledge for problem solving; his target was a new methodology for solving really hard problems ever, which might need inventions. He tried his methodology in teaching technologists and fed the results back for further improving it. He constructed a number of TRIZ techniques into one procedure for problem solving, with the name of "ARIZ" (Algorithm for Inventive Problem Solving); in fact he developed a number of versions of ARIZ throughout his life.
2-2 Basic recognition by TRIZ
Recognition of science and technology by TRIZ is unique especially in its concreteness and thoroughness accompanied with hierarchical abstraction .
Individual facts are not only recorded and accumulated simply as they are, but are also applied for extraction of higher abstract concepts; this abstraction gives us deeper understanding and wider usefulness in application. TRIZ has built a system of abstract principles and laws together with a huge collection of facts and application examples in a readily applicable manner.
(1) Recognition of Substances and "Fields"
Gas, liquid and solid are the "three states of substances" we learn in school science and college physics; they are the states abstract and idealized. Everywhere around us, however, are intermediate states and compound states, such as foams, colloids, etc. We also use materials with unusual characteristics, such as rubber, liquid cristals, and even "water" itself. To know these concrete and specific materials and utilize them at their right positions is an important basis for technologies.
In TRIZ, various kinds of forces, interactions, fields, energies, etc. are genericly called the "Fields". Mechanical, electrical, magnetic, optical, and thermal "Fields" are the five principal kinds of "Fields", according to TRIZ. TRIZ has shown the way of summarizing the understanding of various substances and mechanisms to convert one form or type of the "Fields" into different form or type of "Fields".
For example, by converting mechanical implementation of technology into electro-magnetic implementation, a wide range of technological innovations have been achieved in history, as we widely know. By replacing electro-magnetic functions (e.g., control and communication) with optical ones, new phase of technical innovations are now being carried out. For the purpose of understanding science and technology in this manner, TRIZ not only lists up individual facts and techniques, but also provides us with a clear and abstract framework of systematic understanding.
(2) Trends of evolution in technologies and systems
Histories of development of individual products and technologies are of much interest. But TRIZ has found much more; it recognizes that technological developments have directions common over eras and across technical and industrial fields. Examples of such trends are: Multiplication of systems (e.g., single speaker --> stereo speakers --> surrounding speaker system --> 3D theater system), Increasing flexibility in systems, Segmentation of working parts (e.g. a ball bearing --> a micro-ball bearing --> a gas bearing --> a magnetic bearing), etc.
By learning these trends of technology development, we can understand the current stage of development of our product in problem, and will be able to anticipate the direction of future development. This recognition gives us a prediction, often seeming to need too big change to be feasible for a time being, and helps us do research in advance.
(3) Searching for technological means from targets
When technologists want to solve their actual problems and to construct new systems able to perform their target functions, the guiding principles should be shown to them by the "science and technology".
The science and technology, however, forms such a huge body of specialized knowledge that it is difficult and time-consuming for technologists to understand non-speciality areas. Thus it is hard to find which technology may be applicable to the present problem. As shown in Fig. 1, the knowledge in science and technology is typically described in the form that "setting up the conditions such and such, then the natural law gives the results/effects such and such".
Technologists, on the other hand,
want the knowledge in a differnt scheme: "for performing the technical
target and functions such and such, what kind of setting ups are (most)
suitable". Since this requirement scheme is reverse in direction with the
one for the science and technology, it is difficult to use the latter in
|Fig. 1. Needs of inverse search of science and technology knowledge for engineering practice|
The typical modern approach so far is to build up the knowledge base of science and technology and to use computers for performing the inverse search. Even though the computers run very fast, it requires long time in every search. The search results are poor in its quality, and they are just individual pieces of information without forming a system.
TRIZ, on the other hand, first specified
the representations of "technical targets" systematically in an abstract
level. As a result, the technical targets are hierarchically classified;
its top level representations are "what to do on the substance" and "what
to do on the 'Fields'" (Fig. 2). By using this scheme, individual principles
and application examples in science and technology have been classified
and accumulated by hand work of a number of researchers. In this manner,
a firm system was developed in TRIZ to search for implementation means
from given technical functional targets. This system readily gives results
of search with much higher quality.
|Fig. 2 Scheme in TRIZ to search from targets to implementation means|
TRIZ knowledge base covers a wide range of fields: geometrical, mechanical, thermal, optical (and electromagnetic wave), electrical, magnetic and electro-magnetic, substances and materials, interaction between substance and "Field", chemical, etc. It also contains application examples in medicine, agriculture, etc. Knowledge in biology and information science are not well included yet.
(4) "40 Principles of Invention"
From the analysis of a large number of good patents, Altshuller extracted the essence of ideas which achieved breakthroughs of conventional technology, and condensed them into "40 Principles of Invention" (Table 1).
All these principles (together with
their subprinciples) are described briefly and have a number of application
examples. Some of the principles correspond to the trends of develpment
in technology and systems. There are some others which urge users to think
in other directions or in reverse way; they include: "4. Asymmetry", "10.
Action in advance", "17. Conversion into other dimension", etc. It must
be helpful for beginners to study these principles of invention and their
application examples carefully .
|Table 1. "40 Principles of Invention" in TRIZ|
(5) Solving "Technical Contradictions"
In using technologies, we often meet the situation: "when we want to improve the system in one aspect, the system gets worse in another aspect". This case is usualy called "trade-offs", and is very often handled by finding some compromise between the requirements in the two aspects, i.e. without fully satisfying any of the two. When we want a better solution, we may mathematically search for the best compromise which maximizes some preset target function under the current framework; this technique is called "optimization".
TRIZ, on the other hand, recognizes the situation described above as "Technical Contradiction", and tries to find breakthrough solutions by "eliminating" the contradiction. As a matter of fact, good patents are historical records of such breakthrough solutions that eliminated contradictions. Thus, learning such solutions must give us a lot of hints for eliminating contradictions in our own problems.
Altshuller first selected 39 aspects (e.g., weight of working part, operability, etc.) to standardize the way of describing the systems, then made a 39 x 39 matrix of improving aspects vs. worsening aspects. Then he analyzed good patents one by one to find which contradiction problem in this matrix the patent handled and how the contradiction was solved in terms of the 40 Principles of Invention.
Altshuller and his students set this
analysis plan of incredible scale and actually carried it out by hand.
As the results of this analysis, for each element of the 39 x 39 problem
matrix were listed the top four principles of invention most frequently
used. This result was published in texbooks as "Contradiction Matrix" (Fig.
3). This table of contradiction matrix and the accompanied collection of
examples form an essecial part of the knowledge base in TRIZ.
|Fig. 3. Eliminating "Technical Contradictions" with Altshuller's "Contradiction Matrix"|
(6) Solving "Physical Contradictions"
TRIZ has recognized another type of contradictions, named "Physical Contradictions". The system in problem is requested toward a direction in one aspect, while the same system is requested toward the opposite direction in the same aspect. For example, there is a request of "being clearly seen" and, at the same time, there is the opposite request of "being unseen". When we are asked to satisfy these opposite requirements at the same time, we typically think "it is impossible".
On the contrary, TRIZ recommends problem solvers to represent the problems in this kind of contradictions. This is because TRIZ already developed a lot of standard ways to solve such Physical Contradictions.
The typical solutions for Physical Contradictions are "separation in time" (i.e., to make it "seen" in some time and "unseen" in other time) and "separation in space" (i.e., to make it "seen" in some place and "unseen" in other place). These typical solutions are supported further by relevant Principles of Invention.
2-3 The system of problem solving methodology
As explained above, TRIZ has found
unique viewpoints of science and technology (that is to say "technologists'
viewpoints"), accumulated a rich collection of knowledge bases, and established
a methodology of problem solving in technologies. The whole TRIZ system
is shematically summarized in Fig. 4.
Fig. 4. TRIZ methodology for problem solving
The present author deformed this
scheme into a design shown in Fig. 5 and uses it as the symbol mark of
"TRIZ Home Page in Japan". In the deep space of information of science
and technology, there are a huge number of stars of discoveries and inventions.
Our own problem at hand is just like a cloud without definite shape yet,
and we still cannot find any path for a solution. Now that the TRIZ world
of information is introduced, it works as the mediator with the science
and technology for us and guides us to find a new brilliant star of solution
for our own problem.
Fig. 5. Symbol mark of the "TRIZ Home Page in Japan" ((C) 1998)
In the system of methodology shown in Fig. 4, Altshuller has provided the following methods for the support of problem analysis (details are omitted here):
-- Substance - Field
Analysis: Much simplified functional system analysis
-- Multi-screen Thinking: System in the problem is sketched from nine viewpoints composed of "the system, its supersystem, and its subsystem" times "past, present, and future"
-- Smart Little People Method: Magic little people are imaginarily introduced to the system in problem, and we consider what kind of actions we can ask them to achieve and then later convert the little people's imaginary actions into reality in the nature.
At the lower right of Fig. 4, no TRIZ techniques are written for supporting us to find our concrete solutions by use of the principeles of inventions and their examples as the hints.
The present author was actually asked
by some technologists whether there is any useful technique for this purpose.
The general methodology of abstraction and realization would cover such
process, but any further explanation for such process have been seen so
3. Approaches for modernizing TRIZ
TRIZ has been developed and practiced as a methodology for technical innovation for these 50 years in the former Soviet Union. The needs of "modernizing" TRIZ, however, have been realized since the era of Perestroika in former USSR and especially more recently in the US and other western countries in the processes when TRIZ was tried to be introduced in larger scales.
The fundamental reason for such needs is the fact that the know-hows of teaching and applying TRIZ in the former USSR society without companies were too heavy to apply in the modern business society with severe competition. Nowadays, in every country like USA and Japan, there are demands of teaching TRIZ effectively; TRIZ specialists, not the TRIZ Founder, need to teach a huge number of technologists and researchers in short period (e.g., in a three-day seminar) so as to be able to apply TRIZ to their real problems and to achieve technical innovations benefitial to their businesses.
The approaches for "modernizing TRIZ" are diverse and competing with one another. The following three approaches may be worthy of mentioning.
3-1 Approach by Ideation International Inc.
The specialist group moved from TRIZ School in Kishnev of former USSR are working as the core members of this company. They realized that many techniques developed by Altshuller were so diverse and complicated that some method or process need to be provided as the entrance to such methods of problem analysis.
In their new scheme, the human problem analyser is requested to draw a network-type diagram of causal relationships in the problem with the distinguishment between useful/harmful effects. Then, their software tool automatically lists up the viewpoints of the problem (or viewpoints for solution) for each of the nodes in the diagram. For each viewpoint, the user is recommended to consider possible solutions by use of the conventional TRIZ methodolygy. Viewpoints are output 3 to 4 times the number of nodes, and it is sometimes too tedious to consider them all.
Since the problem is principally analysed by use of the causal relationships, their method can handle problems in various fields much wider than the technologies. Thus this approach is extending its application to the problems in so-called "soft areas", e.g. services, business management, etc.
For this extension, however, it is important to understand the essence of 40 Principles of Invention and interpret them in a wider sense.
For example, let's consider "Principle 35. Physical and chemical phase transfer of substance". This suggests us to use water, for example, in the form of liquid water in some cases and in the form of solid ice in other cases, with taking advantage of the changes in properties due to the physical phase transition.
If this principle is understood in its original context as shown above, it can find very limited applications in the service/business fields. If we understand its essence as "to make something convertible (or variable) in occasions and then take advantage of the property differences", then the same principle can be applied much more widely.
3-2 Approach by Invention Machine Corp.
Dr. Tsourikov, an artifitial intelligence researcher and TRIZ expert in former USSR, emigrated to USA and started the Invention Machine Corp. He implemented the TRIZ knowledge bases described in Section 2-2 (1) to (5) into a handy and useful software tool (i.e., TechOptimizer Pro V3.0).
The framework of TRIZ was clear and useful for the basic architecture of a technology knowledge base. On this basis of TRIZ' accumulation of principles and examples, their knowledge-base software was bulit up as an easy-to-use and user-friendly tool by introducing modern software development and AI technologies. They also developed their techniques for functional analysis by introducing the western methodology of Value Engineering (VE). In fact their software tools are already at an adequate level for practical usage in industries. The tools have been introduced into big businesses in USA, and have recently begun to be introduced into Japanese industries also especially in the form of Japanese versions.
One remarkable feature in their software tool is the new function for suggesting compound technologies by sequencially combining technology principles. The technology principles in the knowledge bases are stored in the format of "Input (settingups and coditions) --> (laws in nature) --> Outputs (effects, substances, etc.)".
There are demands in technology that for achieving some technological target we assume to adopt a technology A and want to find some suitable technology B to implement the settingups and conditions required by the technology A. For this purpose, we may search for the preceeding-stage technology B under the condition that the output of technology B is the same as the input of technology A.
The software tool of Invention Machine Corp. has this kind of automatic search facility with a highly sophisticated matching logic based on semantic recognition of technology, and outputs high-quality results. This capability of suggesting compound technologies may be regarded to be close to the "automatic associative proposal of technologies by computers" .
3-3 Simplified methodology SIT/USIT
Filkovsky, who emigrated to Israel in early 1980s, thought the simplification of TRIZ most important for its penetration into much wider people, and developed the SIT methodology (i.e. Systematic Inventive Thinking).
In Ford Motor Co., Dr. Sickafus adopted SIT and started in 1995 an in-house training program of the methodology of USIT (Unified Structured Inventive Thinking). He set the target of the USIT methodology to help the corporate engineers generate multiple solutions rapidly for actual technological problems in their initial concept-generation stages.
Figure 6 shows the flowchart of the
USIT methodology. It has clearly separated three stages: i.e. Problem definition,
Problem analysis, and Concept generation. The techniques for generating
solution concepts are simplified into only four techniques, and USIT uses
neither knowledge bases nor computers. USIT can be learned well in a three-day
training seminar, and is applicable to actual industrial problems to produce
useful results in short period of time.
Fig. 6. Flowchart of the USIT methodology
The quality of the results of applications,
however, depends on the depth and bredth of the problem solvers' knowledge.
"This is natural", Dr Sickafus says, "because any methodology simply assists
users to solve and never finds the solution by itself."
4. Examples of TRIZ Application
4-1. How to learn TRIZ while application examples are rarely published
Good examples of TRIZ applications are rarely published. Besides a large number of TRIZ texbook examples written by Altshuller, a few are published by Ideation International Inc. and by Invention Machine Corp. for their software demonstration, and several more on the TRIZ Journal and in proceedings of international conferences . Even the published cases are still behind some veils without showing their technical essence. Recent applications of TRIZ in companies are not published because of their patentable secrets; this means better ones have less possiblility of publication. Although TRIZ is penetrating into big businesses in USA, the knowhows of using it are apt to stay inside the companies and consultants.
As a matter of fact, the present author once had a chance of listening to a case study report by the consulting department of Invention Machine Corp.; it was presented at a closed workshop held by Mitsubishi Research Institute in September 1998. It was an excellent report. The consulting department said they had about 100 cases of application of similar quality, but all of them were not allowed to publish.
Under these circumstances, for learning
how to apply TRIZ, each learner has to make efforts for him/herself by
combining following methods:
-- to collect information in textbooks, journals, WWW sites, etc. and to study them,
-- to participate seminars for beginners, conferences, and training courses; sometimes those held abroad,
-- to try and use TRIZ software tools,
-- to understand the essence of your own R&D results in terms of the TRIZ methodology,
-- to try to apply TRIZ to your actual problems, anyway.
4-2 An example of understanding TRIZ by "afterward experience"
During your early stage of learning TRIZ, the present author recommends you to understand your own (or your company's own) R&D results in terms of TRIZ. In this practice, you try to find the TRIZ-way of logic afterwards for the results already done; thus this is called "afterward experience" of TRIZ application.
As an example, a problem for copyright protection of moving images is discussed here: Recent progress of digital image handling has the side-effects of easier unlawful copying and using. Hence the current problem is "how to implement the copyright claims in the moving images for copyright protection." Concerning this problem, the present author et al. filed a patent in 1997 with the idea of "visible watermarking" .
At that time, I did not know much about TRIZ. The essence of the problem and its solution can be explained in the following way as an "afterward experience".
On the issue of the copyright marking in the moving images, there were a number of preceeding patents and patents pending (incuding the ones we learned after we filed our own). In particular, a publicized patent application by a preceedant Company A claims: "To put them as visible marks on the image, or to insert them as invisible patterns in the image (e.g. by inserting them in the space-frequency domain and reconverting them)". Their claim is powerful and seems to have covered all possible cases.
TRIZ advises us to consider over the problem until reducing it into some "contradiction". In the present problem, the copyright mark must be seen clearly in order for the mark to work as the clear statement of copyright. On the other hand, the copyright mark should not be disturbing and should not be easily noticeable by the viewers. Thus, it must not be seen.
This requirement of the copyright mark "to be seen and at the same time not to be seen" is a case of "Physical Contradiction" in the TRIZ methodology. The above-mentioned patent application filed by Company A are claiming the two cases where either one of the two conflicting requirements is fulfilled while the other more or less disregarded; they are compromised solutions without eliminating the contradiction. TRIZ, however, has a lot of general solutions to eliminate such a "Physical Contradiction". One of such solutions is the "separation in time".
We claimed in our patent application "to make the mark clearly visible in the static mode, while at the same time to make it invisible in the viewing mode of the moving image because of the short duration of display." This solution may also be regarded as an application of "Principle 21. Skipping (i.e., super-rapid performance of harmful/dangerous work)" of TRIZ' Principles of Invention. By applying the typical TRIZ solution of "separation in time", we have succeeded in implementing the copyright mark "to be seen and at the same time not to be seen".
We actually obtained the above solution just intuitively, before knowing about TRIZ. The above "afterward experience" of TRIZ usage on this issue has made our patent application very strong, definitely defendable against the preceeding patent application by Company A.
4-3 Example of application of USIT's Particles Method
Let's see an example of applying USIT (i.e. a simplified version of TRIZ) to an actual technological problem:
The problem to be discussed here is: "Molten polymer disolved with a gas at a high pressure is pushed out through a slit-shaped nozzle to form a porous polymer sheet. Increase the foam ratio of the polymer sheet." We have applied the USIT method; in particular we used the Partilcles Method in the problem analysis stage (See Fig. 6). This method is a slightly modified version of Altshuller's Smart Little People Mehtod.
In the problem analysis stage, the
present problem situation is sketched in the left figure of Fig. 7. The
small portion around the nozzle is sketched with enlargement. The root
cause of the problem is understood that the bubbles in the polymers do
not grow large enough and the gases escape from the polymer surface. In
the middle figure of Fig. 7, an ideal solution was sketched (without considering
yet the means to achieve it). It must be ideal that the gases do not escape
through the surface and the bubbles become more in number and larger in
Fig. 7. Example of applying the Particles Method (Problem to increase the foam ratio of polymer sheet)
By comparing the problem situation (left) and the ideal solution (middle), we inserted x marks at the places of change; we call the x marks as "Particles". Particles are defined as "magic substance/'Fields' that may have any desirable properties and can perform any desirable actions". Altshuller's "People" were renamed by Israeli researchers as "Particles", because anlyzers were apt to unconsiously avoid putting the "People" in severe hazardous conditions.
We then consider the actions we want
the Particles to achieve, and we present such actions in a hierarchical
scheme, as shown in Fig. 8. We next list up possible properties of the
Particles desirable for performing such actions; properties may be listed
up for each action without considering interactions.
Fig. 9. Desirable actions and possible properties of the Particles
When the analyzer is listing up these
actions and properties one by one, some fragments of ideas for implementation
may come out in his/her mind. Actually, by putting these elements of ideas
into a systematic scheme, the present author could have formed a system
of conceptual solutions for this problem very smoothly and naturally (see
the case study paper by the present author posted in the "TRIZ Home Page
5. Introduction of TRIZ into industries
5-1 Situations in the United States
In the United States, TRIZ specialists immigrated from former USSR started their activities since around 1992. The main body for promoting TRIZ in USA has been consultants. They do contract research for companies, give training seminars in/outside companies, sell TRIZ software tools, etc. A number of big businesses in USA have several years of experiences of introducing TRIZ and of giving training seminars to a large number of their employees. The degrees of acceptance of TRIZ seem to vary much among them. Only the companies having core department or core members for promotion have succeeded in accepting TRIZ.
Among the US companies which introduced TRIZ, Ford Motor Company may be regarded most successful and most widely publishing their activities. Dr. Sickafus adopted the USIT methodology in Ford.
Since spring 1995, they have held USIT 3-day in-house training seminars every month and taught more than 800 engineers already. A USIT specialist team of 4 members are working actively. When technical problems are brought in from a variety of engineering departments, the USIT specialist team work together with the relevant engineering groups to apply the USIT methodology. They have 2 to 3-hour joint meetings once a week for 4 to 5 weeks and write a report of multiple solution concepts to be submitted to the manager of the relevant engineering group. They say that the estimated profits of the conceptual solutions have summed as much as 100 million dollars per year for the concepts actually becoming the product components in sale.
5-2 Situations in Japan
TRIZ has been introduced into Japan since only 2 or 3 years ago. Mitsubishi Research Institute reported that by the end of 1998 they had sold TRIZ software tools to 50 companies and gave introductory TRIZ seminars to more than 2000 people.
Beside these gross numbers, we should think of more meaningful measures, such as "how many people understand TRIZ in a company?", "how many people can apply TRIZ in a company?", and "how many successful cases of TRIZ application obtained so far in a company?". According to this kind of criteria, Japanese companies should be regarded as still being in the initial trial stage. In Japan, we have very few TRIZ specialists and instructors yet.
5-3 How to introduce TRIZ into Japanese industries
The present author evaluates TRIZ as a very important motive force for technology innovations and expects that TRIZ would give a huge impact on technologies and industries in future, in the scale such as the quality-control movement achieved so far for these 50 years, though the nature of the impact would be different.
On the basis of such evaluation,
the present author recommends the "slow but steady" strategy of introducing
TRIZ into Japanese industries for the time being (see Table 2). The main
emphasis of the strategy is to bring up a few pioneers in each company
without enforcing on individuals and organizations.
|Table 2. "Slow but Steady" Strategy for Introducing TRIZ into Japanese Industries|
We have to support such pioneers
to find some method useful in actual applications and to obtain confidence
on the new methodology step by step through their actual application trials.
People who are interested in TRIZ and notice its possibility have to study
and proceed step by step while proving its usefulness by themselves. Managers
in companies should provide trial environment to such pioneers and support
their trials of application to actual problems.
6. Roles of TRIZ
The TRIZ methodology established in the former USSR has given a fundamentally-new view of the system of science and technology and provided a new methodology for supporting creative technological development. For these 8 years, mainly in the USA, progress has been achieved for "modernizing" TRIZ; and TRIZ has been introduced into US big businesses.
A variety of quality control methodologies have been giving huge impact on industries and technologies for these 50 years. They are based on statistics (or data analysis) and organization methodology, but do not have any specific methodology on the technologies themselves. It is surprising that methodologies without technological bases could have given such a large impact on the industries.
TRIZ is now providing a new methodology for science and technology. It is remarkable particularly to have provided a methodology for technological innovation in industrial applications. When this methodology penetrates, the technology innovations would occur more rapidly and more deeply in future. Technologists and industries in Japan should recognize such possibility well, and should try to introduce and promote TRIZ in a steady manner.
TRIZ gives a large impact on education, too. Not being taught but studying by oneself; not only making practices to solve excercises of known correct answers but struggling to solve unknown real problems; experiencing the joy of creating new ideas; etc. -- these are the new targets we have to consider in educations at various levles. The education system in Japan has to be rebuilt for this kind of creative education, especially in the education of science and technology ranging from elementary schools to graduate schools.
This spring the present author had
a chance of giving two sessions of lectures to a freshman class of non-technology
majors at his university. So he gave lectures on "Ways of thinking for
creative problem solving"; TRIZ was explained at its final stage only for
30 minutes. (Students listened with much interest.) All the people,
students, technologists, businessmen, managers, etc. are requested to slove
their own problems in a creative manner. It is necessary for all the people
to intently study such methodology for creative thinking; and it is necessary
to give such education.
 "TRIZ Home Page in Japan", Editor: Toru Nakagawa, URL: http://www.osaka-gu.ac.jp/php/nakagawa/TRIZ/eTRIZ/
 "The TRIZ Journal", Editor: E. Domb, M. Slocom, URL: http://www.triz-journal.com/
 "TRIZ: Theory of Inventive Problem Solving -- Understanding and Introducing It", Toru Nakagawa, Bulletin of Cultural and Natural Sciences in Osaka Gakuin Univ., No. 37, Sept. 1998, pp. 1-12. (in Japanese); posted in "TRIZ Home Page in Japan", Feb. 1999 (in English).
 "40 Principles: TRIZ Keys to Technical Innovation", G. Altshuller, English translation: L. Shulyak, Technical Innovation Center (1997); Japanese translation: NikkeiBP, NikkeiBP, Tokyo (1999)
 "New Software That Assists 'Invention' -- by Linking Science & Technology Principles and Proposing Composed Technologies", Toru Nakagawa, Nikkei Mechanical, Nov. 1998 (No. 530), pp. 26-31. (in Japanese); posted in "TRIZ Home Page in Japan", Dec. 1998.
 Pulished Japanese Patent Application: patent 1999-136618, Inventors: Ryota Akiyama, Toru Nakagawa, Hiroyasu Itoh
Case Study (2) Increase the Foam Ratio in Forming a Porous Sheet from Gas-solved
Molten Polymer", Toru Nakagawa, in "TRIZ Home Page in Japan", Jul.
1999 (in Japanese), Aug 1999 (in English).
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