On Thursday, 28 September 2017 Karen Gadd of Oxford Creativity introduced members of the Midlands branch to the problem-solving tool kit, TRIZ. TRIZ is an acronym for the Russian expression "Theoria Resheneyva Isobretatelskehuh Zadach," in English "The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving." The technique was developed during the cold war by Genrich Altshuller, a Russian Inventor who analyzed thousands of patents and realized that when you are faced with a problem:
- Somebody, sometime, somewhere had already solved the problem that is facing you, or one very similar to it;
- Creativity means finding that solution and adapting it to your current problem.
TRIZ includes a practical methodology, tool sets, a knowledge base, and model-based technology for generating innovative solutions for problem-solving.
TRIZ emerged from Russia at the end of the Cold War and has been adopted by many organizations both large and small. Although TRIZ was developed by engineers for engineers, the techniques can be applied in other fields including project management.
The TRIZ methodology starts off by analyzing your specific problem; this is then evolving into a conceptual problem. From there a conceptual solution is developed, and this is then converted to a specific solution to your problem. To help with this triz provides some tools. Two most commonly encountered tools are the Contradiction Matrix which lists 39 possible contradictions and 40 inventive principles. Karen provided the contradiction matrix and list of Inventive Principles to the attendees.
One of the key benefits of TRIZ is that it is complimentary to many of the other problem-solving toolkits in common use today. In the short time available it was not possible to explain all the techniques that can be found in the TRIZ toolkit. However, the session provided an interesting overview of the technique and judging by the interest shown by the participants at the end, many of them will be looking at learning more about TRIZ for themselves.
A copy of the presentation can be viewed on the APM Slideshare page.