USIT Research Note:
USIT Development and Its Evolution
  Ed Sickafus (Ford Research Lab. & Ntelleck):
  "Unified Structured Inventive Thinking: How to Invent", Ntelleck, 1997, pp. 439-442.
  Notes by: Toru Nakagawa (Osaka Gakuin University)  Mar. 10, 2001
  Comments on the Notes by: Ed Sickafus (Ntelleck)  Mar. 11, 2001
   [Posted here under author's permission.   Mar. 23, 2001]
For going back to Japanese  pages, press  buttons.

Editor's Note  (Toru Nakagawa, Mar. 10, 2001 and Mar. 21, 2001))

As is posted in our Japanese page [1], an application example of USIT, taken from Ed Sickafus' USIT Textbook [2], has been introduced in Japanese translation after the author's kind permission.  It is nice to have a chance of reading texts written by the founder of USIT.  However, many of the readers might be wondering and puzzled in the differences from the explanations introduced so far by Nakagawa.  Most of such differences come from the historical change in the USIT methodology due to its development and evolution.  In this page, I would like to make brief notes on such development with the hope that the readers may not be confused with the differences in detail and may be able to learn the essence of the USIT methodology.

Readers of this home page are advised to notice the following stages of USIT's development.
  (0)  TRIZ established by Altshuller   (mostly in the 1970s)
  (1)  SIT methodology by Israeli  (established in 1980s, published reference by Horowitz and Maimon in 1997)
  (2)  USIT methodology by Sickafus at Ford (starting in 1995, textbook published in 1997)
  (3)  slightly refined version of USIT methodology by Sickafus (at the USIT Seminar in March 1999)
  (4)  USIT as introduced by Nakagawa (in March 1999 and later)

The SIT methodology, as is developed in Israel, should be refered to the paper by Horowitz and Maimon  [3] published in 1997.  This paper was posted in this site in Japanese translation.

Ed Sickafus at Ford has published papers on the process of development of USIT [4] and on the application activities [5], but has not published any handy paper on the USIT methodology itself, except the intensive USIT Textbook [2].  The example, which is just posted in Japanese, is taken from the textbook and illustrates the methodology, involving most of its main component methods except the Particles method.  The development process of USIT from Israeli SIT is written in the TRIZ Textbook; so the portion is also translated into Japanese and posted here in (A) of this page.

Next, in (B) of this page, the slightly modified version of USIT is briefly shown as is explained by Sickafus at his USIT Seminar held in March 1999.  The points of refinement of USIT chosen by Sickafus after the publication of the textbook are briefly summarized.

In (C) of this page, the discussion by Nakagawa with Sickafus at the USIT Seminar in March 1999 [6] is summarized.  The points of improvement by Nakagawa in his introduction to USIT in Japan [7] are also described.

Readers should note that the USIT methodology has been evolving to the direction towards easiness in understanding and in practical application.  We hope the readers understand the essence of USIT without being troubled in differences in its details.

We are grateful to Dr. Ed Sickafus for his kind permission of our posting his USIT example in Japanese and for his continuing encouragement in our introducing USIT in Japan.

    Dr. Ed. N. Sickafus  (Ntelleck)  "Ed Sickafus" <>

[Supplement on Mar. 21, 2001]
Together with the permission of the Japanese translation and posting in this WWW site, Dr. Sickafus kindly sent us his comments on my draft of this page.  So, his comments are now inserted at the relevant items in (B) and (C) of this page.  They are very illustrative for us to understand the developer's intention in each element of the USIT methodology.
Top of this page A. Development by Sicakfus B. To USIT Seminar in 1999 C.  Refinement by Nakagawa Japanese page 

(A) Development of USIT at Ford from Israeli SIT

        Ed Sickafus (Ford Research Lab. & Ntelleck):
          "Unified Structured Inventive Thinking: How to Invent", Ntelleck, 1997, pp. 439-442.

             Original Title of this section was "Motivation for this book"

             This section is posted in Japanese translation in our Japanese page after the author's kind permission.
             In English, please refer to the original textbook which is reviewed in Dr. Sickafus' NTELLECK site.

(B)  From USIT Textbook to the USIT Seminar in March 1999

              Note by Toru Nakagawa, Mar. 10, 2001

The USIT Training Seminar conducted by Sickafus in March 1999 was reported by Nakagawa [6] in this site.  Since the description of the report reflected Nakagawa's interpretation, the original form of USIT presented by Sickafus at that time is shown here for reference:

Sickafus presented the flowchart of the whole USIT process in a following way (after changing the flow direction, from horizontally to vertically, by Nakagawa for the sake of clarity).

Fig. B1.  Flowchart of the USIT process presented by Sickafus in March 1999

Main refinement and changes in methodology from the USIT Textbook may be summarized as:

(a)  In the Closed-World Diagram, below the diagram of the objects and their functions, the analysist is advised to list up various attributes of these objects; as many attributes as possible without restrecting himself to apparently-relevant ones.

[Comment by Ed Sickafus, Mar. 11, 2001:

From my experience, most students adapt easily to the concept of objects, well to functions, and with difficulty to attributes. However, their adaptation is more literal than metaphorical. The power of USIT becomes the more distinguished in its metaphorical analysis and application of solution techniques. Therefore, the instructor has the task of showing how USIT produces unusual perspectives of a problem via root causes and their phenomenological interpretation using general physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics. A key to this procedure is in becoming effective in the identification and use of attributes.

In view of this experience, I now emphasize the listing of those attributes that can be associated with identified functions and effects – in other words, relevant ones.  ]

(b)  In the Qualitative Change Graphs, instead of drawing graphs with selected ordinate-abscissa pairs, the analyst is advised to use the two standard graphs, which simply represents increasing and decreasing relations.  Analyst should choose an undesirable effect or a desirable function as the common ordinate, and then, for the absissa, list up all the possibly-relevant attributes of all the objects with classifying them into increasing or decreasing relations.  The process of deriving technical contradictions from these QC-Graphs is mentioned but not explained in the Seminar.

[Comment by Ed Sickafus, Mar. 11, 2001:

 I too advise to use two graphs. I teach both methods because some students (only a few) actually prefer to use one graph.

The correlation of two QC graphs, showing two different unwanted effects, with a technical contradiction was mentioned. However, as developed by the Israeli’s and continued in my classes, no attempt is made to produce a technical contradiction because that is a TRIZ requirement not a SIT or USIT requirement. Many people who try to mold USIT back to TRIZ have difficulty with this. In TRIZ the technical contradiction is sought and then, as a solution technique, it is separated into non-contradictory effects. SIT and USIT avoid this unnecessary step in order to achieve speed. My experience in teaching USIT has shown that analysts trying to discover and word a technical contradiction lose much time. It is time wasted because the next step is to separate the contradiction into two effects. In SIT/USIT, these effects are two QC graphs. In addition to speed, there is an issue of efficiency and plurality of solutions. I stress in USIT classes to find as many unwanted effects as possible and not worry about contradictions. But, if contradictions are found, then use them as starting points for creative thinking.]

(c) OAF [Object-Attribute-Function] statements and OAF-Diagrams were omitted in the 3-day training seminar due to the lack of time.

(d) In Uniqueness method [i.e. Spatial/Temporal Characteristic Analysis], the analyst is advised to choose some proper axes in space and in time as the absiccae and represent the characteristic nature of the problem in two graphs.

[Comment by Ed Sickafus, Mar. 11, 2001:

As students develop some skill in drawing simple sketches of a problem situation that include the selected objects, they find that these serve as spatial uniqueness plots. They then need only draw a temporal plot of functions. ]

(C) Recent Refinement by Nakagawa in his Introduction of USIT in Japan

             Note by Toru Nakagawa,  Mar. 10, 2001

During the USIT Training Seminar in March 1999, Nakagawa re-drew the USIT flowchart and discussed with Dr. Sickafus.  The USIT flowchart I drew is illustrated below:


Fig. C1.  The USIT flowchart drawn by Nakagawa

(a) Uniqueness [i.e. Spatial/Temporal Characteristics Analysis] should be regarded as a problem analysis method instead of a solution generation method.  This is because its principal purpose is to understand/repesent the problem characteristics in space and time and it should be carried out once before applying other solution-generation techniques repeatedly.  (Sickafus had placed this method in between the analysis methods and solution generation methods, because it is useful in coming up with various solutions.)

[Comment by Ed Sickafus, Mar. 11, 2001:

I prefer to use uniqueness after the problem definition and analyses phases have been completed. It becomes a transition in thinking between analysis and solution. It is especially effective as an introduction to distribution. I emphasize thinking of uniqueness as a solution technique in order once more to induce unconventional thinking in problem solving – a step toward innovation.  ]

(b) The flowchart is redrawn as above, in a more standard way as a flowchart.

(c) Nakagawa feels that the OAF-statements and OAF-diagrams are difficult in writing their attributes and that thinking too rigorously in the OAF-diagram method would prohibit more relaxed and free way in thinking.  Thus he has not tried to introduce them in Japan.

[Comment by Ed Sickafus, Mar. 11, 2001:

I agree that they are difficult. But they are the best tool I have found to get students to begin to identify useful attributes and to understand why they are useful. As one becomes proficient in USIT (which doesn’t take too much practice) thinking in terms of attributes becomes easier and more effectively applied. Then, one can drop this analysis tool completely.  ]

(d) The method of generification of solutions is illustrated in a simple scheme and is recommended much as an easy and powerful method.

(e) USIT's terms are introduced in Jpanese with more meaningful keywords.  The main terms are (in direct translation into English):
     -  Closed-World Diagram,  CW-Diagram:    Closed-World Diagram
     -  Quatitative Change Graph, QC-Graph:    Quatitative Change Graph
     -  Particles Method:                                 Particles Method (as it is, without translating into Japanese)
     -  OA-tree:                                           Action-Property Diagram
     -  Uniqueness:                                       Spatial/Temporal Characteristic Analysis
     -  Dimensionality:                                   Attribute Dimensionality Method
     -  Pluralization:                                      Object Pluralization Method
     -  Distribution:                                      Function Distribution Method
     -  Transduction:                                     Function Linkage Method

(f)  The program of 3-day USIT Training Seminar is refined by Nakagawa as was reported earlier.
Top of this page A. Development by Sicakfus B. To USIT Seminar in 1999 C.  Refinement by Nakagawa Japanese page 

USIT Textbook Example (Sickafus, 1997)  Israeli SIT (Horowitz et al. 1997)  USIT Development (Sickafus, 1999) Sickafus USIT Seminar (1999) Introduction to USIT ( Nakagawa 2000)

Home Page New Information Introduction to TRIZ TRIZ References TRIZ Links
TRIZ News & Activities TRIZ Software Tools TRIZ Papers and Tech Reports TRIZ Forum Home Page

Last updated on Mar.  23, 2001.     Access point:  Editor: