Thanks to the TRIZ method, a method increasingly used in business, it is possible to find many relevant ideas in a short time.
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What does TRIZ mean?
TRIZ stands for “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving” and designates a method that brings together a set of tools for solving problems in an inventive way. It is a structured creativity approach that provides users with technical solutions to their innovation issues.
Origins of the TRIZ method
TRIZ comes from the Russian “Teoria Resheniya Izobretatelskikh Zadatch”. TRIZ research began in 1946 when engineer Genrich Altshuller began studying patents for inventions in the USSR. He conducted a study and analyzed 40,000 patents selected from 400,000 international patents.
Genrich Altshuller then noticed that the problems encountered during the design of a product could be similar to the design of other products. He has indeed noticed a certain similarity of problems between different products. He concluded that there might be similar solutions that could be applied in different areas. Genrich Altshuller’s TRIZ method includes, among other things, a list of 40 innovation principles. These principles can be used independently or combined with other tools such as the search for the Ideal Final Result or the 8 laws of evolution of a technical system.
The TRIZ method is generally little used in France, except in certain very specific sectors. However, this approach is much more common in Southeast Asia, especially in industry and research. The example of the Samsung brand is particularly telling. Samsung has applied the TRIZ method for more than twenty years and remains the brand that filed the most patents worldwide between 1995 and 2015. Compared to its direct competitors, Samsung now has 138,934 patents compared to 56,809 for Microsoft and 25,033 patents for Apple.
Why use TRIZ?
TRIZ designates a rational and structured approach very useful for people in innovation research. Indeed, experts in one domain often operate in silos and do not take the time to study and become familiar with other fields of activity that could be useful to them. The different TRIZ principles therefore provide opportunities for innovators by bringing accumulated experience in different sectors of activity.
The guided and structured TRIZ method also makes it possible toavoid certain random brainstorming patterns. This creative process really helps the teams in charge of innovation to fight against psychological inertia and other brakes on the imagination. TRIZ provides clever and easily achievable technical solutions so that the brainstorming phases are effective and efficient.
This creative approach brings a critical eye and new lines of thought to the teams. It consists of analyze the existing to then study how to transform it. Thanks to the TRIZ method, the innovator better understands his product.
This creative approach is very useful, because it acts as an incubator and generates many relevant ideas over a limited period. Using TRIZ’s 40 innovation principles makes it possible to find many ideas in a limited time, ideas that are simple to implement to solve the various problems encountered by users.
The degrees of inventiveness according to TRIZ
When Genrich Altshuller analyzed the various patents, he underlined through his work 5 degrees of inventiveness.
- The apparent solution with a solution percentage of 32%. The origin of knowledge comes from the individual. There are 10 essays on this degree of inventiveness.
- The minor improvement with a solution percentage of 45%. The origin of knowledge comes from the company. There are 100 essays on this degree of inventiveness.
- The major improvement with a solution percentage of 18%. The origin of knowledge comes from industry. There are 1,000 tests on this degree of inventiveness.
- The new concept with a solution percentage of 4%. Knowledge comes from all industries. There are 100,000 attempts on this degree of inventiveness.
- Discovery with a percentage of solutions less than 1%. The origin of knowledge comes from sets of knowledge. There are 1,000,000 attempts on this degree of inventiveness.
It should be noted that the TRIZ method only applies to the “major improvement” and “new concept” levels of inventiveness.
How to use the TRIZ method?
Define your intention, formulate the problem
The TRIZ method makes it possible to develop an existing and real product. To use TRIZ, it is important to hold a meeting beforehand with a panel of several people to define your intention. This meeting can lead to two different intentions.
In the first case, the group wants to solve a problem. The starting point is then a well-identified problem to be solved. The group will therefore use principles oriented towards the resolution of this problem. The 40 principles of TRIZ correspond to different lines of thought and provide new solutions to technical issues. Genrich Altshuller announced them and characterized them according to a problem. Through a matrix and after having identified the initial problem, the objective of the approach is to reduce the number of principles that respond to the problem.
In the other case, the group has an idea for a new product. He wants to create an innovative evolution of his product without encountering any particular problem. It must therefore use the 40 principles of innovation in an open manner to suggest an evolution consistent with its development objectives. Here, the use of the 40 innovation principles will not be restricted as in the first case, it can be approached in a more free way. With TRIZ, the fact of being interested in each of the principles is a real incubator which makes it possible to propose interesting and original solutions. Each principle is made up of sub-principles. In the end, there are therefore a total of 120 formulations which make it possible to propose new ideas.
Determine the environment for using the principles
It is necessary to describe the real situation and therefore the scope of possible intervention. Indeed, innovations may concern only part of the product or the product as a whole. It is also important to name the product in a simple way and with generic terms so as not to be influenced by the design of the initial product. It is then necessary to list the parts of the product, the close objects and the characteristics which will be the object of an intervention, by limiting oneself to 5 maximum for each of the 3 categories.
Realize diagrams of the initial product and the different ideas
Each brainstorming session organized gives rise to a schematization. The TRIZ method makes it possible to produce diagrams modeling the problem identified, the ideas used and the solutions that can respond to the initial problem.
Look for solutions
The matrix for resolving technical contradictions proposes 40 principles of generic solutions to be applied. Let’s take the best-known example with principle n°1 for the segmentation of a pair of glasses. Innovators might formulate the phrase:
“Segmenting the glasses facilitates their modularity. »
The formulation of the sub-principles would be for example:
“Dividing the glasses into several independent parts facilitates their modularity. »
“Producing removable glasses facilitates their modularity. »
“Increasing the degree of segmentation of eyewear facilitates their modularity. »
The team must now use their imagination to come up with innovative ideas from these different formulations.
Analyze the solutions and choose the ideal result
It is important to analyze the different ideas put forward, taking into account the positive effects, the negative effects and the resulting cost reduction. Putting these different elements in parallel will allow the group of innovators to choose the most interesting product for the brand, that is to say the product that comes closest to the ideal result.
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