Theory of inventive problem solving (TRIZ)

This ACT/GTM method was developed by the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies from the work of G. Altshuller and D. Mann. TRIZ is a Russian acronym for Theoria Resheneyva Isobretatelskehuh Zadach (теория решения изобретательских задач), which means "theory of inventive problem solving". The tool was first developed by the Russian naval officer Genrich Altshuller who analyzed hundreds of thousands of patents and concluded that almost all significant inventions were based on one or more of about 40 basic principles.

The TRIZ method can be an effective tool for inventive problem solving, but it is also one of the more sophisticated tools of Red Teaming. It probably requires some study and practice to become familiar with it.

When to use it

Red Teams should use TRIZ when their organization is trying to find a solution to a problem that seems to have conflicting characteristics or parameters, which means that efforts to improve one will have negative effects on the other.

The key to solving a problem is to resolve an apparently inherent contradiction or limitation in a process or system. In these cases we usually make compromises. The inventive principles of TRIZ and the historical study of great inventions teach us that the direct confrontation and resolution of contradictions is the key to groundbreaking inventions and ideas.

Examples of such parameter contradictions that we would all identify with are

  1. Weight of a car vs. its fuel efficiency
  2. Size of an organization vs. reaction speed
  3. Safety protection of a medicine can vs. easy opening
  4. Wound coverage vs. ability of a wound to "breathe".
  5. Quick access to information vs. safety concerns
  6. Pressure safety of a pipeline or vessel vs. number of screws required to open it
Problem des Widerspruchs TRIZ 1
The improvement of a key characteristic to a desired level has a negative effect on a second important characteristic

This situation is called the problem of contradiction as shown in the figure and would be the kind of problem for which the TRIZ method could be used.

Added value and benefits

The TRIZ method can help problem solvers to better understand the system they are dealing with by allowing a more precise identification of the parameters and variables of a particular problem. This additional precision helps to avoid the unintended consequences that sometimes occur when complex problems are mistakenly considered simple or linear. TRIZ can also help problem solvers to integrate their System 1 thinking with their System 2 thinking to develop a creative solution that would otherwise have eluded them.

The method

Step 1 - Identify the specific problem and inconsistencies

It is often useful to write out the problem in a concise narrative. Other liberating structures would be helpful. In the example above, the initial design problem might be: How can a vehicle be built more stable and safe without increasing energy consumption?

Step 2 - Identify the conceptual problem (contradiction)

Turn the specific problem into a conceptual problem. In this step you should make the problem generic using the TRIZ matrix that you can access and identify the general characteristics that are in conflict. An example of a TRIZ matrix can be found for example under this link:

In this example, two of the features are in conflict with each other: Strength (in this case the stability of a vehicle), and weight of a mobile object (in this case the vehicle itself).

Step 3 - Determining the appropriate invention principles

If one returns to the TRIZ contradiction matrix and considers the intersection on the matrix of strength as a "feature to be improved" (feature no. 14 on the bottom left side of the matrix) and weight of a moving object as a "feature to be worsened" (feature no. 1 on the top of the matrix), then one obtains four potential principles of invention that must be examined

1 - Segmentation - Dividing an object into independent parts

8 - Counterweight - Compensates the weight of an object by combining it with another object that generates a lifting force

40 - Composite materials - Replace homogeneous materials with composite materials, and

15 - Dynamics - a. Change the properties of an object or the external environment to achieve optimal performance at every stage of a process, b. If an object is immobile, make it move. Make it interchangeable, c. Divide an object into elements that are able to change their position relative to each other.

Step 4 - Identify the specific solution

Explore the principles of invention and find a way to apply them to solve your specific problem. In the case of vehicle development, the designers took advantage of invention principle no. 40 and developed a composite material that is lighter and stronger than conventional steel.

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