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ImageAn important aspect of TRIZ problem solving is noticing the resources needed to resolve contradictions. “Resources are things, information, energy, or properties of the materials that 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.


Tony McCaffrey has just finished is Ph.D. and is the principal consultant for the newly formed Aha! Productions, Inc., a consulting firm that helps produce aha! moments in engineers. Specifically, we work with mechanical engineering and industrial design firms to help create breakthrough ideas for unsolved problems. Tony has an MS in computer science (Indiana University) specializing in artificial intelligence, an MA in philosophy (Loyola University of Chicago) specializing in philosophy of mind, and a PhD in cognitive psychology (University of Massachusetts Amherst) specializing in the psychology and neuroscience of innovation.

Inside TRIZ

Case Studies From A Breakthrough Innovation

Inside TRIZ
Photo of Darrell MannMarch 2012
Darrell Mann
Case Studies From A Breakthrough Innovation
"Starting in August 2004, the Hong Kong government began sponsoring a deployment of TRIZ to a cluster of eight local companies. Over the course of the next 15 months, each company was invited to assemble a team of between 5 and 8 engineers and designers each of whom would be exposed to a series of six three-day TRIZ education and utilization sessions. The aims of the program were for each company to realize new products, patents and tangible financial benefits, and to measure the extent to which TRIZ allowed companies to accelerate their rate of innovation. This paper describes a collection of some of the success stories emerging from the program."

TRIZ Features

Alexander Selutsky

TRIZ Feature

Alexander Selyutsky - a key figure in the history of TRIZ!

Alexander Selyutsky

Selyutsky Alexander Borisovich was born April 6, 1933 to an intelligent Jewish family residing in Leningrad. During the World War II the plant where his father was working was evacuated to the Urals, and the family (the parents and Alexander) moved to Chelyabinsk. Here, Alexander graduated from high school. He wanted to go to a military school, but didn’t pass vision test and entered the Chelyabinsk Polytechnic Institute. In his first year he was forced to learn boxing (because of frequent anti-Semitic attacks) and became a Komsomol activist.

After graduation, he was sent to Petrozavodsk Onega tractor plant, where he worked as a designer. He continued leading a very active social life, organized and led voluntary militia patrolling the streets of the city because the situation was very criminal. In the search for more satisfying work he became interested in patenting, completed appropriate courses and became a patent agent.

In 1960, Alexander married Dolly Naumovna Audleys, and had a daughter Alla in 1961. The same year G.S Altshuller published a book " “Learn how to invent"[1] . After reading this book in 1965 Selyutsky wrote a letter to Altshuller. This letter started their acquaintance by correspondence. Since then, Alexander became one of the most dedicated Altshuller’s disciples and an active promoter of the emerging new science.

They finally met in 1968 in Dzintary (near Riga), at the seminar organized by the Central Board of VOIR (state leading inventors’ and innovators’ society) that invited Altshuller and several of his associates. It was the first time that Alexander and others got a chance to work under the direct guidance of Altshuller and to learn from him. Later, in 1983, Alexander participated as one of the instructors in the seminar conducted by G.S. Altshuller in Moscow at the Institute for continuous education for chemical and petroleum industries.

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