The Altshuller Institute

for TRIZ Studies

Soft Side of TRIZ

Jack HippleJack Hipple

Dear Subscribers:

After reading Valery Kraev's year of articles giving a basic foundation for TRIZ and how it can be used for problem solving and technology planning challenges, it's a little humbling to follow such an outstanding summary. Richard Langevin, knowing of my particular interest in applying TRIZ in the organizational, business, and the "soft" business/people side of problem solving, asked if I would write a column similar to Valery's, but with a focus on these types of applications as well as share some advice and case studies. As someone who has used and is certified in several psychological assessment techniques, the people side of problem solving has always fascinated me, especially in the context of a rigorous toolkit such as TRIZ. With Valery's substantive foundation, as well as what you have learned from your own readings and problem solving, I'd like to stretch your brain a little in how you might apply these principles outside the technical problem solving arena where TRIZ is traditionally been practiced. The continuing growth of different lists of 40 principles applied to different areas, all the way from software, to chemistry and architecture demonstrates the fundamental viability of TRIZ in almost any field of endeavor.

Read more: Introduction

Soft Side of TRIZ

Jack HippleJack Hipple

When we are doing TRIZ problem solving, one of the first things we do (after we have defined the right problem area, zone of conflict, etc.), is ask ourselves, "What is the Ideal Final Result?" We frequently refer to this as the IFR or simply ideality. Let's take a look at a problem such as "how to do a known surgical procedure". This answer might be fairly straightforward, but great surgeons of the world will argue about whether the surgery needs to be done at all, the timing of it, the potential consequences, and the details of the procedure itself. All of these are variations on what a particular surgeon considers "ideal". The ideal result could mean no surgery at all because of the potential consequences. It could mean to do it at a particular time so as to avoid potential consequences with future plans, either personal or medical. Ideal could mean a chance to try an exploratory surgery that a surgeon has wanted to do for a long time.

Read more: Lesson 1: The Complications of the "Soft" Side of the Ideal Final Result

Soft Side of TRIZ

Jack HippleJack Hipple

Last month we discussed how using TRIZ in management and organizational problem solving can be a bit more complicated because the definition of the "ideal" result can become complicated by the views of different people and their motives and incentives. In TRIZ, in addition to the concept of the Ideal Final Result, we also consider the concept of sub-system and super-system related to our problem. TRIZ principles teach us that super-systems absorb their sub-systems over time. Let's consider these concepts in a management and organizational context, again using a medical system as our model.

Read more: Lesson 2: Whose "9-BOX" is it?

Soft Side of TRIZ

Jack HippleJack Hipple

The last two months we have discussed the difference in using TRIZ principles of ideality and system analysis in the management and organizational area. We have seen that differences in perspective can challenge our conventional "one view" of what the ideal final result (IFR) and the differences in viewing a sub-system/super-system diagram. We left you with two challenges to consider. Let's now take a look at how, in the organizational and management area, how our view of resources can also dramatically affect how we use TRIZ thinking. Let's consider the hospital/medical treatment system analysis we started last month. Here's one summary view of the system analysis that we presented last month...

Read more: Lesson 3: Looking for Resources in the Soft World

Soft Side of TRIZ

Jack HippleJack Hipple

If Bill Gates had done some thinking a while back, what might he have done with his TRIZ resources hat on and his simple 9-Box in front of him (and no Harvard MBA!)?

First, he might be alert to the mass customization of software through the resources of the Web, a resource available not just to Microsoft customers, but to everyone. Might he have made more money by knowing this and licensing the use of Microsoft office by the minute, by the document? Would he have realized sooner that is was possible for anyone to create software code using input from everyone, not just his programmers? Would he have recognized that the web allows anyone to have a PC without having a PC? Interesting questions and you can see Microsoft struggling with these issues and making acquisitions to assist it in new business models that don't look anything like their present one. Hope you also did this analysis for your own job as I suggested.

Read more: Lesson 4: Contradictions - Do We See Them All?

Soft Side of TRIZ

Jack HippleJack Hipple

Last month we left you with some problems relating to contradiction analysis. Let's take a look at them from several different levels. First I asked you to think about your own job and its contradictions. Let's look at mine! Since I don't work for a company in the traditional sense, the question I asked you regarding contradiction conflicts between your view and your employer's view may not be relevant, but everyone has a boss. So in my context, let's consider my wife as the boss who wishes I brought home more money to allow her mother to spend more time with us (ouch!)

Read more: Lesson 5: Contradictions - Are They "Hard" or "Soft"?

Soft Side of TRIZ

Jack HippleJack Hipple

When we first look at the contradiction table and the inventive principles, we are tempted to look at the words and not see how to connect them with business, organizational, and people problems and just say they aren't applicable. However, as was demonstrated in a proposed answer to the first homework problem from the last issue, it's not impossible—it just takes some mental effort and a little imagination. An excellent TRIZ Journal article reviewing the 40 principles and their "translation" into business terms can be found at the www.triz-journal.com web site. It's in the September 1999 issue. In addition, an additional resource in this area is the business contradiction table developed by Darrell Mann. It's a 31X31 matrix and uses parameters unlike those in the original contradiction table and the terminology is a little different than used in many US businesses.

Read more: Lesson 6: Translation of Inventive Principles to the "Soft Side" (I)

Soft Side of TRIZ

Jack HippleJack Hipple

Last month we reviewed some of the inventive principles contained in the TRIZ contradiction table and discussed how they could be translated into concepts useful in the business and organizational world. Let's continue that discussion.

As we said last month, when we first look at the contradiction table and the inventive principles, we are tempted to look at the words and not see how to connect them with business, organizational, and people problems and just say they aren't applicable. As we demonstrated, it's not impossible-- it just takes some mental effort and a little imagination. Recall also an excellent TRIZ Journal article reviewing the 40 principles and their "translation" into business terms can be found at the www.triz-journal.com web site. It's in the September 1999 issue.

Read more: Lesson 7: Translation of Inventive Principles to the "Soft Side" (II)

Soft Side of TRIZ

Jack HippleJack Hipple

For the past two months we have been discussing the translation of the standard 40 TRIZ principles into business and organizational language. It takes a little mental effort, but I hope you have seen how it can pay off as you use this way of taking a hard look at business and organizational problem.

In TRIZ, we make a distinction between a conflict between two different parameters (traditionally called a technical contradiction) and a conflict within a parameter itself (a physical contradiction). For example, instead of the concern about "shape" vs. "ease of repair" in the contradiction table, we are talking about either shape or ease of repair on their own. We may want the shape to be round for one reason and square for another reason. We may want something to be thick for one reason and thin for another reason (think of a circuit breaker). We may want an item or piece of machinery to be easily accessible for maintenance, but inaccessible while running (for safety reasons).

Read more: Lesson 8: Separation Principles in the Business World

Soft Side of TRIZ

Jack HippleJack Hipple

In the late 1960's Boris Zlotin and other original TRIZ Masters of Altshuller came up with a very clever "reverse" method of using TRIZ principles. This application goes by several different names such as Anticipatory Failure Determination™ and Predictive Failure Analysis™. The basic principle is to invert the classical TRIZ problem solving algorithm as follows (we'll use an organizational as opposed to a technical problem as an example):

  1. State the Ideal Result: We want to make sure that all of our employees know all they need to know to do their jobs to sustain the organization's objective
  2. Invert this statement: We do not want our employees to know what they need to know to assist their organization in achieving its goals
  3. Exaggerate the inverted Ideal Final Result statement. (This is the key mental step that may be hard to do just as the normal TRIZ ideal result is difficult to express): We NEVER want our employees to have the information they need to assist the organization in achieving its goals.
  4. What resources are available to achieve this "inverted ideality"? Are they available? Can they be created?

Read more: Lesson 9: Using TRIZ in "Reverse" for Organizational and Business Problems

Soft Side of TRIZ

Jack HippleJack Hipple

As the science of TRIZ developed, we went from simple contradiction analysis to standard solutions, a general algorithm (ARIZ), and eventually to Lines and Patterns of Evolution. This is again one of these areas where long time TRIZ Scientists debate how many lines and patterns there are, what they are called, etc. In this discussion, I am going to use the high level 8 lines that I and others learned from Boris Zlotin and Alla Zusman, TRIZ Masters. No offense is intended if you think there are more or less lines, you call them something else, use different verbiage to describe, etc. Many "new" lines have been defined, which in some cases are merely subdivisions of the top level lines, while others can be considered actually newly defined. These next two columns are about applying the thinking imbedded in these lines as opposed to an academic debate. This will at least provide a framework to assist you in translating whatever lines you are using, or what you call them. We can all debate these points at a future Altshuller conference panel discussion.

Read more: Lesson 10: Translating TRIZ Lines of Evolution to Business and Management (I)

Soft Side of TRIZ

Jack HippleJack Hipple

This article will review the last 4 of the 8 lines we discussed last month and their applicability to business and organizational problems. But first, let's look at the homework. We asked you to consider yourself as the President of ABC Company who had decided to do a total review of the company's' performance evaluation and compensation program. You are planning an off-site meeting with your senior staff and have decided to use the thoughts from this lesson as the structure for the meeting and discussion. What are some of your preliminary thoughts? What reaction do you expect from the VP of Engineering, your VP of Director of Human Resources, your VP of Manufacturing, and your VP of Marketing and Sales? Consider this in the context of the Lines of Evolution discussed previously.

Read more: Lesson 11: Translating TRIZ Lines of Evolution to Business and Management (II)

Soft Side of TRIZ

Jack HippleJack Hipple

This will be the last of the articles in this 12 part series of columns discussing the use of TRIZ principles alongside business and innovation processes and assessment tools. The list of these is too long to be covered in any short paper, let alone a long one, and when writing about this subject it is inherent that someone's favorite process or assessment will be left out. I apologize in advance if your favorite "other" tool is left out. No offenses are intended, but use the thought that I am trying to convey in the context of the business process or personnel assessment tool you prefer.

Read more: Lesson 12: Integrating TRIZ with Other Business Processes

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