TRIZ is the Russian-language acronym for “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving”. This theory provides systematic methods for solving design and technological problems. TRIZ falls somewhere between a decision support system and a thinking and innovation system.
Originally, the problem-solving paradigm was invented and developed by Genrich Altshuller, who discovered that technological systems change according to specific laws.
In a letter addressed “personally to Comrade Stalin”, Altshuller, then a 22-year-old lieutenant in the Caspian Sea Military Navy in 1948, argued that the Soviet Union’s approach to technology was chaotic and ignorant.
Before Altshuller had even graduated from the 10th grade at age 17, he had patented an underwater diving apparatus and had built a rocket-propelled boat. Altshuller also wrote in his letter that he had devised a systematic approach to more easily solve any technical problem. Unfortunately, his letter was not favorable to Stalin’s administration, so he was arrested and sentenced to twenty five years in the GULAG.
After Stalin’s death in 1953, and Altshuller’s release from prison, he published specific laws and methods for formalization of the inventing process, and gave it the name, TRIZ. Based on the analysis of more than 200,000 patents, Altshuller also presented his laws of technological system evolution, the “Life Strategy of a Creative Person” (LSCP).
In all, Altshuller wrote fourteen books and close to five hundred articles. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, there were about two hundred TRIZ centers in the former Soviet Union.
One of the central ideas of TRIZ is a design analysis to find conflicts between improving and worsening features. For example, if you want to make a more powerful engine for car, you must increase the engine’s weight, because the increased mass of a car decreases the real power of the car’s engine. Among the thirty-nine sources of conflicts that Altshuller defined were strength, stability, brightness, volume, and temperature. After that, he found about forty principles to solve these conflicts, including segmentation (dividing an object into independent parts), prior action (perform changes to an object in advance), and so on.
During the 1990’s, many TRIZ pioneers from the former Soviet Union immigrated to America. One group from Kishinev, Moldova, led by Boris Zlotin and Alla Zusman, founded the Michigan-based company, Ideation International (www.ideationtriz.com), The Altschuller Institute for TRIZ Studies (www.aitriz.org), and The Technical Innovation Center (www.triz.org).
After his immigration to the U.S., Dr. Valery Tsourikov, a specialist in TRIZ, and a scientist in artificial intelligence from the “Invention Machine Laboratory” in Minsk, Byelorussia, founded the Invention Machine Corporation (www.invention-machine.com) in Boston, Massachusetts.
The products and services of Ideation International are based on the Ideation/TRIZ Methodology (I-TRIZ), which is the result of an analysis of over 3 million worldwide patents and the history of technological and social evolution. From this, approximately one thousand patterns of invention and more than five hundred patterns and lines of technological, market and organizational evolution have been extracted. I-TRIZ includes integrated tools, problem formulation modules, training systems and a special knowledge base. It comprises the following systems:
· Creative Education — a learning system to solve creative problems in any area (technology, marketing, management, etc.)
· Inventive problem Solving System — a tool to solve inventive problems in a systematic way
· Anticipatory Failure Determination System — tools for failure analysis and prediction, to eliminate existing or potential system failures
· Directed Evolution System — tools to develop future generations of a system, and to control system evolution
The Inventive Problem Solving System, based on the Innovation Workbench software, conducts a five-step process to solve inventive problems in a systematic way (please visit http://www.ideationtriz.com/IPS.asp).
Invention Machine Corporation (www.invention-machine.com), with over one thousand installations worldwide, and customers such as Boeing, Honda, HP, and Proctor & Gamble, has developed Invention Machine Goldfire.
This product provides engineers with a platform for problem solving, and an improved ability to generate solutions through problem-analysis tools and methodologies. This platform endows semantic knowledge retrieval for access to relevant content, including worldwide patent databases, more than 8,000 scientific effects and 2,000 scientific web sites.
Invention Machine Goldfire brings simplicity and predictability to the innovation process, from idea generation, product development and renovation of existing products, through the improvement of production processes. Goldfire harnesses the power of its semantic technology to automatically categorize relevant results based on key concepts – such as Advantages and Disadvantages, Applications, Methods, Parts, Functions, Parameters, Causes, Effects, Companies, etc. This helps identify new ideas and guides ongoing research and analysis.
Invention Machine Goldfire tools are used for:
· Innovation trend analysis
· Semantic navigation in field knowledge bases, technical libraries, and other sources
· Device or process analysis
· Root cause analysis
Dr. Valery Tsourikov, CEO of Invention Machine Corporation, set out to automate TRIZ, and move beyond it. Rather than develop a way of thinking, he wanted software that can do the thinking itself.
The resulting semantic indexing technology has been dubbed “Semantic TRIZ”. Its software searches deep into the Internet, and then analyzes large volumes of text from technical journals, scientific forums, and other sources, including a complete index of U.S. patents. By breaking down sentence structure, the software reorganizes the content of documents into a “problems and solutions” format.
The Summit of Developers of TRIZ (www.triz-summit.ru) is held once a year, with organizational support from the International Association of TRIZ, and other partner organizations. The primary goal of the TRIZ Summit is to organize the interaction between developers and researchers, in the development of TRIZ as a science. The TRIZ Companies Database includes such companies as Agamus Consult (in Germany, France and Slovakia), Altran Consulting and Information Services (in the Netherlands), Applied Innovation Alliance (in the U.S.) and many others around the world.