Interpersonal SkillsLeadership SkillsProblem Solving

TRIZ Method of Problem-Solving

The TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving) method is a powerful problem-solving approach that has been used by individuals and organizations around the world to overcome complex problems and drive innovation.

In this article, we will provide a comprehensive overview of the TRIZ method of problem solving.

We will discuss its origins and history, the principles and concepts that underpin it, the benefits of using TRIZ, the tools and techniques that are used, and provide real-world case studies of its successful implementation.

What is TRIZ Method of Problem-Solving?

Origins and History of TRIZ

The TRIZ method of problem-solving was developed in the former Soviet Union in the 1950s by Genrich Altshuller, a Russian engineer and scientist. Altshuller was inspired by the work of inventors and innovators such as Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla and wanted to create a systematic approach to problem-solving that could be used by anyone.

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Genrich Altshuller was born in 1926 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. He graduated from the Azerbaijan Polytechnic Institute in 1952 and began his career as a patent examiner. It was during his time as a patent examiner that Altshuller began to study patents and the process of invention, which led to the development of the TRIZ Method of Problem-Solving.

Genrich Altshuller

TRIZ was developed by Genrich Altshuller and his colleagues, beginning in 1946.

Altshuller, who was both a science fiction author and inventor, worked on TRIZ while employed at the Caspian Sea fleet of the Soviet Navy, specifically in the Inventions Inspection department.

He noticed “contradictions” that occurred when improving one parameter negatively impacted another, requiring inventive solutions.

His work was interrupted in 1950 when he was arrested and sentenced to 25 years for criticizing Soviet Government decisions in letters to Stalin, top officials, and newspapers. He resumed his work after being freed in 1953.

Altshuller expanded his work on TRIZ throughout the USSR until the 1980s, when the concept began to spread to other countries through Soviet emigrants.

The first paper on TRIZ was published in 1956. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Altshuller Institute for TRIZ Studies was established in Boston in 1995 to continue advancing the concept in the United States.

Principles and Concepts of TRIZ

TRIZ is based on a number of principles and concepts that are designed to help individuals and organizations overcome complex problems and drive innovation.

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These include:

  • Contradiction: A problem cannot be solved unless the contradictions within it are resolved. This means identifying and resolving the conflicts between two or more elements that are causing the problem.
  • Ideality: The ideal state for a system is one where it achieves its goals with minimal resources and effort. This means striving towards a state of perfection where the system is as efficient and effective as possible.
  • Patterns of Evolution: TRIZ recognizes that there are patterns in the way that systems evolve and that these patterns can be used to predict future developments and to identify potential problems before they occur.
  • Laws of Technical Systems Evolution: TRIZ has identified a number of laws that describe the evolution of technical systems. These laws can be used to identify potential problems and to develop solutions that are in line with the natural evolution of systems.

The Five Stages of the TRIZ Method of Problem-Solving

TRIZ is a structured approach to problem-solving that consists of five main stages. Let’s take a closer look at each of these stages:

1. Definition of the Problem

In this stage, the problem is clearly defined and the scope of the problem is identified. This is a critical stage because a poorly defined problem can lead to wasted time and resources. In order to define the problem effectively, it is important to ask the right questions and gather as much information as possible. This stage includes the following steps:

  • Problem Identification: Identify the problem and the scope of the problem. This involves defining the problem statement and identifying the key issues that need to be addressed.
  • Data Collection: Collect all relevant data related to the problem. This may include data on the symptoms of the problem, the causes of the problem, and any previous attempts to solve the problem.
  • Problem Definition: Define the problem clearly and concisely. This involves breaking the problem down into its component parts and identifying the root cause of the problem.

2. Analysis of the Problem

The problem is analyzed using a range of tools and techniques, including the contradiction matrix, functional analysis, and cause-and-effect analysis. This stage is designed to help identify the contradictions within the problem and to develop a clear understanding of the system that is causing the problem. The analysis stage includes the following steps:

  • Functional Analysis: Identify the key functions of the system and how they relate to the problem.
  • Cause-and-Effect Analysis: Identify the root causes of the problem and their effects on the system.
  • Contradiction Matrix: Identify the contradictions within the problem and develop a clear understanding of the conflicts that need to be resolved.

3. Ideation

A range of potential solutions are generated using tools such as the inventive principles, trends of evolution, and the matrix of contradictions. The goal of this stage is to generate as many ideas as possible and to identify the most promising solutions. The ideation stage includes the following steps:

  • Brainstorming: Generate a range of potential solutions to the problem.
  • Inventive Principles: Use the 40 inventive principles to develop innovative solutions to the problem.
  • Matrix of Contradictions: Use the matrix of contradictions to identify potential solutions to the contradictions within the problem.

4. Evaluation of Ideas

In this stage, potential solutions are evaluated using criteria such as feasibility, effectiveness, and efficiency. The goal of this stage is to identify the most promising solutions and to develop a clear understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of each solution. The evaluation stage includes the following steps:

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  • Feasibility: Determine whether the solution is feasible in terms of resources, time, and expertise.
  • Effectiveness: Determine whether the solution is effective in terms of solving the problem and meeting the goals of the system.
  • Efficiency: Determine whether the solution is efficient in terms of cost, time, and resources.

5. Implementation

The selected solution is implemented and the results are monitored and evaluated to ensure that the problem has been successfully solved. The implementation stage includes the following steps:

  • Planning: Develop a detailed plan for implementing the solution.
  • Execution: Implement the solution according to the plan.
  • Monitoring: Monitor the results of the implementation and make any necessary adjustments.
  • Evaluation: Evaluate the results of the implementation to ensure that the problem has been successfully solved.

Benefits of TRIZ

TRIZ Method of Problem-Solving has a number of advantages that make it a valuable tool for problem-solving. Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of using TRIZ:

Advantages of Using TRIZ for Problem Solving

1. Structured Approach

TRIZ provides a structured approach to problem-solving that helps to ensure that all relevant factors are taken into account. By following a structured process, teams are less likely to overlook important details or fail to consider all potential solutions.

2. Focus on Innovation

TRIZ is focused on innovation and developing creative solutions to problems. By using tools like the inventive principles and trends of evolution, teams can develop solutions that are truly innovative and that go beyond incremental improvements.

3. Reduces Time and Cost

By providing a structured process and a range of tools and techniques, TRIZ can help to reduce the time and cost required for problem-solving. This is particularly valuable for complex problems that require a significant investment of time and resources.

4. Increases Efficiency

TRIZ Method of Problem-Solving can help to increase efficiency by identifying the most promising solutions early in the process. By evaluating potential solutions based on criteria such as feasibility, effectiveness, and efficiency, teams can focus their efforts on the solutions that are most likely to succeed.

Case Studies

TRIZ Method of Problem-Solving

TRIZ has been implemented successfully in a wide range of industries and fields. Here are some case studies of companies that have successfully used TRIZ:

Samsung

Samsung has implemented TRIZ to improve their product design and innovation processes. The company faced a problem in reducing the thickness of their mobile phone screens while maintaining high-quality images. By applying TRIZ principles, they were able to develop a new type of pixel structure that improved the image quality and reduced the thickness of the screens.

Intel

Intel faced a challenge in the manufacturing of their computer chips. The company implemented TRIZ to improve the yield rate of the chips, which was a critical factor in the profitability of their operations. Using TRIZ, they were able to identify the root causes of the manufacturing issues and develop solutions that improved the yield rate by 15%.

Ford

Ford used TRIZ to improve the durability of their engine components. The company faced problems with the valve seats in their engines, which were prone to cracking and failing over time. Using TRIZ, they were able to identify the root cause of the problem and develop a new design that improved the durability of the valve seats by 40%.

General Electric

General Electric (GE) has implemented TRIZ to improve their research and development processes. The company faced challenges in developing new products and technologies that were both innovative and cost-effective. Using TRIZ, they were able to identify potential areas for innovation and develop solutions that improved the efficiency and effectiveness of their R&D processes.

In each of these case studies, TRIZ played a critical role in helping the companies solve complex problems and improve their operations. By using TRIZ, these companies were able to:

  • Identify the root causes of the problems they faced
  • Develop innovative solutions to those problems
  • Improve their products and processes
  • Increase their competitiveness in their respective industries

The successful implementation of TRIZ has had a significant impact on the success of these companies. By leveraging the power of TRIZ, they were able to overcome complex problems and achieve new levels of innovation and efficiency.

The TRIZ Tools and Techniques

TRIZ provides a range of tools and techniques that can be used to solve problems and develop innovative solutions. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key TRIZ tools and techniques:

Key TRIZ Tools and Techniques for Problem Solving

1. Contradiction Matrix

The contradiction matrix is a tool that helps to identify contradictions between different parts of a system. By identifying these contradictions, teams can develop solutions that resolve the contradictions and improve the overall performance of the system.

2. Inventive Principles

The inventive principles are a set of 40 principles that can be used to develop innovative solutions to problems. These principles provide guidance on how to overcome contradictions and develop solutions that are truly innovative.

3. Trends of Evolution

The trends of evolution are a set of patterns that have been observed in the development of technology over time. By understanding these trends, teams can develop solutions that take advantage of these patterns and anticipate future developments.

4. Function Analysis

Function analysis is a technique for understanding the functions of a system and how they relate to each other. By understanding the functions of a system, teams can develop solutions that improve the overall performance of the system.

5. Cause-and-Effect Analysis

Cause-and-effect analysis is a technique for understanding the root causes of a problem. By understanding the root causes of a problem, teams can develop solutions that address the underlying issues and prevent the problem from recurring.

Examples of How to Use TRIZ Tools and Techniques in Practice

Let’s take a look at some examples of how TRIZ Method of Problem-Solving tools and techniques can be used in practice:

1. Contradiction Matrix

For example, let’s say that a company is developing a new product that needs to be both durable and lightweight. The contradiction matrix can be used to identify the contradiction between these two requirements and develop a solution that resolves the contradiction, such as using lightweight but durable materials.

2. Inventive Principles

For example, let’s say that a company is developing a new battery that needs to have a longer lifespan. The inventive principles can be used to develop innovative solutions, such as using a different type of battery chemistry or improving the battery’s management system.

3. Trends of Evolution

For example, let’s say that a company is developing a new mobile phone. By understanding the trends of evolution in mobile phone technology, the company can develop a solution that anticipates future developments, such as incorporating new features like foldable screens or advanced biometric authentication.

4. Function Analysis

For example, let’s say that a company is developing a new car engine. Function analysis can be used to understand the functions of the engine and how they relate to each other, such as how the fuel system and exhaust system work together. By understanding these functions, the company can develop solutions that improve the overall performance of the engine.

5. Cause-and-Effect Analysis

For example, let’s say that a company is experiencing quality issues with their product. Cause-and-effect analysis can be used to understand the root causes of the quality issues, such as problems with the manufacturing process or issues with the design of the product. By addressing these root causes, the company can develop solutions that improve the quality of the product.

Rich Resources & Community of Enthusiasts

The TRIZ databases are a compilation of “open source” resources created by TRIZ users and enthusiasts. These resources include the 40 Inventive Principles and 76 Standard Solutions.

TRIZ has proved to be an effective problem-solving method in various domains, including product development, design engineering, and process management.

Many organizations have successfully implemented TRIZ, including Six Sigma quality improvement processes, to enhance their innovation capabilities and drive continuous improvement.

Limitations of TRIZ Tools and Techniques

Despite the numerous benefits of TRIZ, there are some limitations to the tools and techniques that should be taken into account.

Some of the limitations of TRIZ are:

Complexity: The TRIZ problem-solving process can be quite complex and difficult to implement, particularly for those who are new to the methodology. It can require a significant investment of time and resources to fully understand and apply the tools and techniques.

Expertise: TRIZ requires a certain level of expertise and knowledge to use effectively. It can be challenging for individuals without a technical background to fully grasp the concepts and apply them to real-world problems.

Limited scope: TRIZ is focused primarily on technical and engineering problems. While it can be adapted to other fields, it may not be as effective for solving problems outside of this area.

Inflexibility: The TRIZ methodology can be quite rigid, and may not allow for a great deal of flexibility or creativity in the problem-solving process.

Language barrier: The TRIZ methodology was developed in Russia and some of the terminology used can be difficult to understand for non-native Russian speakers.

Despite these limitations, TRIZ remains a powerful problem-solving tool that has been widely adopted in many industries and fields. With proper training and support, individuals and organizations can overcome these limitations and fully leverage the benefits of TRIZ.

Conclusion

TRIZ is a powerful problem-solving methodology that has been successfully implemented in a wide range of industries and fields. Key points discussed in this article include:

  • The origins and history of TRIZ
  • The five main stages of the TRIZ Method of Problem-Solving
  • The benefits of using TRIZ for problem solving, including increased innovation and efficiency
  • Key TRIZ tools and techniques for problem solving, including the contradiction matrix and the inventive principles
  • Real-world case studies of companies that have successfully used TRIZ

TRIZ offers several benefits for problem-solving, including:

  • The ability to identify root causes of problems and develop innovative solutions
  • Improved efficiency and effectiveness of product and process development
  • Increased competitiveness in industries

For readers who want to learn more about TRIZ, we recommend:

  • Taking an online course or attending a workshop to learn about the methodology in depth
  • Reading books and articles about TRIZ to gain a deeper understanding of the principles and techniques
  • Applying TRIZ to real-world problems to gain practical experience and expertise

Overall, TRIZ Method of Problem-Solving is a valuable tool for anyone looking to improve their problem-solving skills and drive innovation in their industry. By implementing the TRIZ methodology, companies and individuals can achieve new levels of success and competitiveness in their respective fields.

Sources
  • Mann, D. L. (2002). Hands-on systematic innovation: For business and management. IFR Press.

  • Savransky, S. D. (2000). Engineering of creativity: Introduction to TRIZ methodology of inventive problem solving. CRC Press.

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Marty Hoffman

Marty Hoffman, MBA, PhD Management Consultant for Fortune 500 and Corporate Strategist 📍 San Francisco, CA More »

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