Ph.D., Cognitive Psychology
University of Massachusetts Amherst
An important aspect of TRIZ problem solving is noticing the resources needed to resolve ontradictions. “Resources are things, information, energy, or properties of the materials hat are already in or near the environment of the problem” (Rantanen & Domb, 2008). Because of the way we humans process information, however, we tend to overlook many possible resources. The normal processing of our perceptual and semantic systems leads us to notice the typical resources for the problem at hand. The typical is the enemy of innovation; whereas, the atypical, or the obscure, is innovation’s friend. But what techniques can help counteract our propensity for the typical and help us uncover the obscure? After devising an extensive taxonomy of possible types of resources, we have created and tested a set of techniques, the Aha! Toolkit, that helps uncover the obscure resources. Even though our set of techniques is only a year old, it has already been used to solve several difficult engineering problems. Further, it can assist TRIZ with problems that involve contradictions but will also work with problems involving no contradictions. We present our new cognitive theory of innovation as well as the techniques that help humans see the often-invisible obscure resources.