Introduction to TRIZ

Innovative Problem Solving


Dr. Prakash R. Apte

Solid State Electronics Group

Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

Homi Bhabha Road

Colaba, Mumbai – 400 005

Tel. +91-22-215 2971 extn 2314

Fax. +91-22-215 2110 or 2181


Need for Innovation :

In recent times, it has become apparent that corporations who seek innovative solutions to engineering problems are able to maintain a competitive edge in the world market. The techniques of optimizing and perfecting existing products have now been applied widely and thus are neither able to help in keeping the leading position nor launch new products to create and capture new markets. Innovations in existing products and inventions for new products, that too quickly and with fewer resources, will help in maintaining a competitive edge in an era of downsizing. Companies like Sony, (Japan), Motorola, Hewlett-Packard, 3M (USA) have all benefited by innovative strategies in the sense that more than 30% of their revenue has been due to products that were introduced in the last 2 years! Sony alone introduces about 50 new products every year!!

However, changing tracks from making ‘proven’ (safe) products to ‘innovative’ (new) products is not easy. The very things we cherished in the past are likely to be the hindering (mental) blocks. Specialist training, habits, paradigms, the working environment and (last but not the least) human nature, constrain our innovative thinking. This is called "psychological Inertia" and it has to be overcome to obtain innovative solution concepts for the chronic technical problems.

Many psychological techniques have been suggested and practiced to overcome the psychological inertia – brainstorming, lateral thinking etc. Yet, TRIZ is apparently the only technology based systematic methodology that overcomes the "psychological inertia" and produces a large range of solution concepts. The stress is on finding innovative solutions concepts, from other engineering fields, that utilize available resources. This directly results in improved product at reduced cost,

How will TRIZ help in INDIA ?

Indian industries have been primarily borrowing technologies from West and Japan. However, there are three main difficulties, TRIZ can help, in all the three cases, with quick results using fewer resources, to maintain a competitive edge and hold the market share.

      1. Next generation product and/or New customer requirements
          • TRIZ tool - Trends of Technical Evolution
      2. Some products need to be modified to suit
        1. availability of new raw materials
          • TRIZ tool - Ideal Final Result and Resources
        2. new processing equipment
          • TRIZ tool - Functional Analysis / Trimming
      3. Chronic engineering problems need to be solved
                    ("chronic" implies that all known methods have been tried)
  • TRIZ tool - Technical or Physical Contradictions elimination
  • TRIZ tool - Substance-Field Analysis and system transformations
What does the course offer ?

This course introduces all the main TRIZ tools : Ideality and IFR, Problem formulation and Functional Analysis, Use of 40 Principles to solve contradictions, Use of S-curves and Technology Evolution trends, and Use of extended knowledge-bases. The introduction to each TRIZ tool is followed by a few examples from the knowledge (patent) database and at least one case study where a real problem has been solved by applying the particular TRIZ tool.

TRIZ methodology will be compared with other Creative and Innovative methods like Brainstorming, Lateral Thinking, Neuro-Lingual-Programming, Mind-mapping, etc. for their efficiency of overcoming psychological inertia. The role of TRIZ in an innovative design cycle will be discussed. The synergy between TRIZ, QFD and Taguchi methods will be highlighted.

What is TRIZ ?

TRIZ is a Russian acronym meaning "Theory of Inventive Problem Solving". In 1946, Genrich Altshuller, the founder of TRIZ, was a patent reviewer at the Russian naval patent office at the young age of 20. He perceived that there is a definite pattern in the way innovations take place in technical systems. He started a study of 200,000 patents to look for the basic principles and patterns in the world's most innovative patents. He found that each of the most inventive patents primarily solved an ‘inventive’ problem. Altshuller defined inventive problems as those which contain conflicting requirements, which he called ‘contradictions’. Further he found that the same fundamental solutions were used over and over again, often separated by many years. He reasoned that if latter inventors had the knowledge of earlier solutions their task would have been simpler. He, therefore, set about extracting, compiling, and organizing such knowledge.

The collated patent database and subsequent analysis revealed a natural pattern of innovation that can help solve similar technological problems. This study was continued, by Altshuller and his disciples, over the past 50 years and has yielded a systematic approach to definition and identification of innovative problems, a set of problem solving tools, and a vast knowledge database, which can help solve current technical problems in an innovative way. Today, the TRIZ software database includes the essence of over 2,500,000 patents.

He defined 39 basic properties and 40 principles for solving problems containing contradiction in any two-of-39 properties. This he gave in the form of a contradiction table of size 39 x 39 with each cell giving up to 4 principles (and examples from patent data base), that may be used to eliminate the contradiction.

Altshuller also laid the foundation for development of an analytical approach to solving inventive problems with an axiom – "The evolution of all technical systems is governed by objective laws". Improvement of any part of a system which has already reached the highest level of functional performance will lead to conflict with another part. This will lead to eventual improvement of the less evolved part(s). Such a continuing and self-sustaining process will bring the system closer to its ‘ideal’ state.

Su-Field analysis ("two Substances and one Field") is used whenever a new function is introduced or modified (either inadvertently or intentionally) and inventive "standard solutions" (and examples from patent database) are available to find an analogous solution. ARIZ – ‘Algorithm for Inventive Problem Solving’is used when systems mature and become complex thus making it difficult to modify or improve them in an incremental fashion.

Anticipatory Failure Determination and Directed Evolution are some of the more recent additions (1992-) to the tools of TRIZ. Only a brief introduction is included.

1. Methods and tools of TRIZ:

Altshuller’s research of over fifty years on Creativity and Inventive Problem Solving has led to many different classifications, methods and tools of invention.

1.1  Contradiction Matrix (39 x 39) :

Contradiction appears while trying to improve one desirable property another desirable property deteriorates! Conventional problem solving generally leads to a ‘compromise’ solution. As mentioned before, the most ‘inventive’ solution is obtained when a technical problem containing a ‘contradiction’ is solved by completely eliminating the contradiction.

Altshuller, from his research on over 40,000 most inventive patents, found that there are only "39 Features" which either improve or degrade. So, every problem could be described as a conflict between a pair of parameters (2-out-of-39 parameters). Many patents had, in the past, resolved these individual conflicts in several different fields. The conflicts were solved over and over again, sometimes, these were spaced several years apart. He concluded that only "40 inventive principles" were used to resolve these contradictions fully, and not as a trade-off or compromise. He further argued that, if the latter researchers knew these earlier results, they would have solved their own problems with more ease.

Altshuller, therefore, set about to extract and to organize the frequently occurring contradictions and the principles of the resolution of these contradictions. He put it in the form of a matrix of 39-improving parameters and 39-worsening parameters (39 X 39 matrix) with each cell entry giving the most often used (up to 4) inventive principles. This matrix is known as the "CONTRADICTION MATRIX" and remains to be the simplest and the most straightforward of TRIZ tools.

The next page gives the complete list of "39 Features" and "40 Inventive Principles".

Contradiction matrix and examples (corresponding to each inventive principle) forms the first of the knowledge databases of the TRIZ. This is not given in these notes, as it is a part of the TRIZ software "TechOptimizer-3.0".

List of the 39 Features

1. Weight of moving object
2. Weight of stationary object
3. Length of moving object
4. Length of stationary object
5. Area of moving object
6. Area of stationary object
7. Volume of moving object
8. Volume of stationary object
9. Speed
10. Force

11. Stress or pressure
12. Shape
13. Stability of the object's composition
14. Strength
15. Duration of action by a moving object
16. Duration of action by a stationary object
17. Temperature
18. Illumination intensity * (jargon)
19. Use of energy by moving object
20. Use of energy by stationary object

21. Power * (jargon)
22. Loss of Energy
23. Loss of substance
24. Loss of Information
25. Loss of Time
26. Quantity of substance/the matter
27. Reliability
28. Measurement accuracy
29. Manufacturing precision
30. External harm affects the object

31. Object-generated harmful factors
32. Ease of manufacture
33. Ease of operation
34. Ease of repair
35. Adaptability or versatility
36. Device complexity
37. Difficulty of detecting and measuring
38. Extent of automation
39. Productivity *

List of the 40 Principles

Principle 1. Segmentation
Principle 2. Taking out
Principle 3. Local quality
Principle 4. Asymmetry
Principle 5. Merging
Principle 6. Universality
Principle 7. "Nested doll"
Principle 8. Anti-weight
Principle 9. Preliminary anti-action
Principle 10. Preliminary action

Principle 11. Beforehand cushioning
Principle 12. Equipotentiality
Principle 13. 'The other way round
Principle 14. Spheroidality - Curvature
Principle 15. Dynamics
Principle 16. Partial or excessive actions
Principle 17. Another dimension
Principle 18. Mechanical vibration
Principle 19. Periodic action
Principle 20. Continuity of useful action

Principle 21. Skipping
Principle 22. "Blessing in disguise" or "Turn Lemons into Lemonade"
Principle 23. Feedback
Principle 24. 'Intermediary'
Principle 25. Self-service
Principle 26. Copying
Principle 27. Cheap short living objects
Principle 28. Mechanics substitution
Principle 29. Pneumatics and hydraulics
Principle 30. Flexible shells and thin films

Principle 31. Porous materials
Principle 32. Color changes
Principle 33. Homogeneity
Principle 34. Discarding and recovering
Principle 35. Parameter changes
Principle 36. Phase transitions
Principle 37. Thermal expansion
Principle 38. Strong oxidants
Principle 39. Inert atmosphere
Principle 40. Composite materials

   1.2  Level of inventions

Altshuller, while researching 200,000 patents, found that patents encompassed a very broad range from very ordinary to extremely inventive. He classified them in 5 levels, which he called "Levels of Inventions",

Level 1 : apparent solution (32% of all the patents)

  • A simple improvement of a technical system
  • Use examples from the same field.

Altshuller felt that Level 1 is not really innovative as it provides only some improvement to an existing system without solving any problem.

Level 2 : minor improvements, removing some contradictions (45% of all the patents)  
  • Use 40 Principles to separate and solve technical contradictions.
  • Requires knowledge from different areas within the same field.

Level 3 : major improvements requiring Su-field analysis (18% of all the patents)

  • Use the 76 Standard Solutions to solve Physical contradictions.
  • Use effects – physical, chemical and geometrical.
  • Requires knowledge from other fields.

Level 4 : radical change / new concept, requires ARIZ (4% of all the patents)

  • Use ARIZ to fully describe the ‘real’ problem and possible ‘new’ solutions.

This level improves a technical system, but without solving an existing technical contradiction. It simply replaces the original technology with a new technology so as to move towards ideality!

Level 5 : discovery-previously unknown (1% of all the patents).

Altshuller proposed to exclude the two extreme levels viz. Level 1 and Level 5 from his inventive problem solving tools. As one can see, the tools become progressively more powerful as we move from Level 2 to Level 3 and to Level 4. The levels 2 and 3 are termed as "innovative" and Level 4 as "inventive".

Each level has its own defined problems and its own problem solving tools. The aim is to move towards ideality. In this sense the level 4 is not better than Level 3 if Level 3 solution brings it closer to ideality. Each higher level also requires more detailed analysis and resources.

   1.3  Patterns in evolution of technological systems :

Altshuller, while compiling the data for the contradiction matrix, also found that evolution of various technical systems was not random but in fact followed objective laws. He found that evolution of any system could fit into one of the 8 specific patterns. The underlying guiding principles behind this evolution were that "every system evolves towards increasing ideality" and "evolution continues at the expense of system's own resources".

Contemporary TRIZ software has an Evolution Trends database containing over 20 trends and 200 lines of evolution with examples from different processes and products. Altshuller established 8 patterns of technical system evolution, which are given below

    1. Life cycle of birth, growth, maturity and death.

    2. Example: Steam-engine and Propellers replaced Boats with oars
    3. Trend of increasing ideality.

    4. Example: Printers with better resolution and printing speeds
    5. Uneven development of sub-systems resulting in contradictions.

    6. Example: Powerful aero-engines developed faster than the wing design
    7. First to match parts and later mismatch parts (to gain advantage).

    8. Example: Pocket knife with one blade, then many blades, finally with scissors, screw-drivers, can openers etc. (Swiss Army Knife)
    9. Increasing complexity followed by simplicity through integration.

    10. Example: PCB with lot of components leading to Integrated Circuit
    11. Transition from macro-system to micro-system.

    12. Example: Rolled Glass sheets to Float glass
      Steel rollers with reducing diameters ultimately lead to molecules of molten tin acting as rollers
    13. Technology follows increasing dynamism and controllability.

    14. Example: Wooden Pointer, to telescopic pointer, to Laser pointer
    15. Decreasing human involvement with increasing automation.

    16. Example: All on-board controls on Satellite

   1.4  S-Field Analysis and Standard Solutions :

    Altshuller’s main premise was that every technical system could be thought of as a network of subsystems each of which performs some specific function. Thus every system has subsystems and every subsystem is said to belong to a supersystem. Subsystems can be progressively sub divided, ultimately reaching microlevels like particles, molecules, atoms, electrons etc. Supersystems are the result of growth of a technical system from simple to more complex system. Finally, every supersystem will have environment as its supersystem.

    A technical system, in its smallest unit, performs a function. Altshuller defined a function as the interaction between two substances and a field acting between the two substances. The S-field (or energy) acts on substance S2 to improve or modify interaction with the substance S1. The two substances are also known as "tool" (substance S2) and "object" (substance S1). Among many possibilities that exist, the most important ones are the ‘useful interaction’ and the ‘harmful interaction’. The figure 1  below shows a S-Field model for useful and harmful interaction.

    Figure 1.  S-Field model (showing 'useful' and 'harmful' action)

    Once a technical system function is stripped of all 'jargon' and is represented simply by its S-field model, then it is possible to identify the current system's problem with a 'generic' problem associated with the S-field model. Altshuller argued that such generic problems have also been solved earlier by researchers and these solutions would be part of various patents. He divided the standard solutions into five generic classes and compiled a knowledge database of their solutions from the patents. The five classes of standard solution are,

    Class #1 :  Build or destroy a S-field

        Usually, a ‘useful interaction’ is intentionally built up while a ‘harmful interaction’ is intended to be destroyed through the S-field


    Class #2 :  Develop (or bring into existence) an S-field

    Class #3 :  Transition from a base system to a supersystem or

        To a subsystem (all the way ) to the micro-level

    Class #4 :  Measure or detect anything within a technical system

    Class #5 :  Describe how to introduce substances or fields into the technical system

    Improvements in (partly) useful actions and elimination of harmful actions are considered for problem solving using the S-Field model. Each modification performed on S-Field model and its entities (two substances and a Field), is like a transformation of the system. Altshuller proposed that system improvement ideas could also be borrowed from analogous system having similar S-Field model and its transformation examples from patent literature. These he termed as "STANDARD SOLUTIONS". He identified 72 standard solutions based on basic variations and modifications in substances and fields of a S-Field model.

    In the TRIZ software available today, there are more than 200 standard solutions and each having several examples from technology and patents in different fields. This is referred to as Standards database or as prediction database in the IMC's software "TechOptimizer-3.0".


   1.5  Law of Ideality and Ideal Final Result (IFR) :

1.5.1 Law of Ideality :

A technical system's primary objective is to provide some function. The main function can be divided and sub-divided into sub-functions till it can not be divided any further. This is known in TRIZ as the S-Field function model. Conventional thinking leads to : "It is required to deliver such and such function. Therefore, we must build such and suchmechanism or device".  TRIZ, on the other hand, starts the thinking process by stating : "It is required to deliver such and such function without introducing a new mechanism or device into the system".

Law of ideality states that any technical system moves towards ideality, that is, it becomes more reliable, simple, effective – more ideal. An "Ideal System" can be defined as one that performs the function without existing. As we get closer to ideality, it costs less, it is simpler and more efficient.

Ideality always reflects the maximum utilization of existing resources – within subsystems themselves or within super-system including environment’s free resources like gravity, air, heat, magnetic field, light etc. Altshuller stated that "art of inventing is the ability to remove barriers to Ideality in order to qualitatively improve a technical system". There are several ways to make the system more ideal:

1. Increase amount of functions of the system - make it multi-function
2. Transfer as many functions to that working element that produces the final action
3. Transfer some of the functions of the system to a supersystem
4. Utilize internal and external resources that already exist and are available

1.5.2 Ideal Final Result :

According to the law of ideality "All technical systems evolve towards ideality". Every system designer must define an ideal function that a system has to deliver. This is called as the Ideal Final Result (IFR). Ideal Final Result is very useful concept as it ,

1. gives an implementation-free description (after the problem has been solved)
2. focuses on functions needed (and not on the currently used processes and / or equipment)
3. eliminates rework (by solving the ‘right’ problem the first time itself)
4. leads to breakthrough thinking

The IFR concept can be applied to the product, process, substances by referring to an "the ideal product," "the ideal process," and "the ideal substance." The ideal product is one that performs without existing. The ideal process delivers the necessary action without expending energy and time. The ideal substance does not exist, but it helps fields to act on them in the required manner. Using the IFR as a 'lighthouse', the necessary effect or function is achieved without adding new processes or materials to the technical system. It is important that the IFR be kept in mind at all times during the problem-solving process and particularly when several solution concepts have to be evaluated and one of them is to be selected for final implementation.


   1.6 System of Systems and Resources :

Altshuller describes every technical system as a 3 level hierarchical system: base system, subsystems and supersystem. Any technical system can be thought of as one that delivers certain technical functions. Every base system, therefore, consists of subsystems that provide a variety of functions. The subsystems can be thought in terms of parts, components etc. going all the way down to particles, molecules, atoms and so on. Further, every base system belongs to a supersystem, going all the way to environment. He outlined the process of system evolution as one that is primarily due to improvement in some system part reaching its pinnacle, and thus creating a conflict with not so developed system part. This motivates improvement of a succession of less developed parts. This happens by utilizing system's available resources and the improvements continue till these resources are fully utilized. The system will then reach its ideal final form.

In TRIZ, a system is considered as a "system of systems" i.e. a "hierarchical system" consisting of supersystem, base system and the subsystems. Thus, all available resources of supersystem, base system and the subsystems are taken as "resources" of the system.

    1. Space Resources,
    2. Time Resources,
    3. System resources,
    4. Function Resources,
    5. Information,
    6. Substances,
    7. Energy and Field Resources
  Altshuller concluded that the progress towards ideality is closely linked to the utilization of available resources. All level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 solutions depend on utilization of available resources and can thus be called as innovative solutions or innovations.

Further development of the system function is possible only by addition of new system components or replacement old components by new components. Each new component brings along with it additional resources. Thus, Level 4 solutions depend primarily on a new system that implements the required system function without actually solving any contradiction. Thus, these can be classified as inventive solutions or inventions. Additional/new resources will further result in improvement towards a new superior level of system performance.

   1.7 Scientific and Technical Effects:

From 1965 onwards, Altshuller and his followers studied the synthesis of functions as depicted by the S-Field models. When system requirements are broken down to the simplest S-Field models, it is then necessary to realize or implement these using only the available resources. This particular constraint (that only available resources have to be used) requires many non-obvious, innovative ideas for implementation of the desired function.

Altshuller developed an abstract model of scientific effects in which an effect is described as the interaction between two or more parameters, under certain operating conditions, which results in a specific level of output parameter. So, in a sense, an effect is a (non-linear) operator which operates on input (set of parameters) and delivers output (set of parameters).

During 1965-1970, he and his colleagues set about creating an Effects Database which was to be organized "from technical goals to means of realization". This he had to do afresh as conventionally scientific effects were always organized either subject-wise or by the name of the scientist or inventor. An inventor who needs to realize a specific function, say move an liquid, had look into different fields of physics, chemistry etc or search patiently by names of people associated with similar effects. The task is made extremely difficult, as the inventor may not even know anything of fields other than his own! Thus, a large database of effects was compiled in accordance to the basic goal and the means which achieve them. It is now easy for the inventor to first determine what basic function (S-Field model) he needs and then to look into Effects database for possible innovative solution concepts for realization of the same.

The Standard Solutions suggest particular system transformation on the S-Field model. Scientific and Technical Effects are used for realizing the function as modeled by the transformed S-Field diagram. Furthermore, Scientific and technical effects are used in cases where the S-Field model of the required function is known but there is no known method of implementation. This is called as the synthesis of functions.

   1.8  ARIZ: Algorithm for Inventive Problem Solving :

Altshuller wanted to make the process of inventive problem solving as familiar to contemporary inventors as possible. He therefore set about formulating a step-by-step procedure that one could follow to solve problem which contained 'contradictions' (in agreement with his definition of an inventive problem). This procedure contains following tasks. Of course, the first task would be to identify the problem itself!

ARIZ is the central analytical tool of TRIZ. It is a systematic procedure for identifying solutions, without apparent contradictions, to the very complex problems. This is achieved by a step by step analysis which inevitably leads even to reformulation of the problem, that should be solved, and the solutions to the right problem. The most recent version, ARIZ-85C contains nine steps:

STEP 1 : Identify and Formulate the problem  
TRIZ method : Use Innovative Situation Questionnaire (ISQ)

STEP 2 : Make S-Field Models of the system parts that have problem

TRIZ method : Use S-Field model

STEP 3 : Formulate an Ideal final result (IFR) and define ideality

TRIZ method : Define IFR and ideality

STEP 4 : Make a list of the available resources (of the system, subsystems and the supersystem)

TRIZ method : List the available resources

STEP 5 : Look into database of examples and find an analogous solution

  TRIZ method : Look up the examples from the database of inventive solutions for the trend of evolution that is applicable for your system

STEP 6 : Resolve Technical or physical contradiction by using inventive or separation principles

TRIZ method : Use Contradiction Matrix and Inventive principles to resolve technical contradictions or use inventive separation principles to resolve physical contradictions

STEP 7 : Starting from the S-Field model, Generate several solution concepts using

TRIZ methods :    Øthe knowledge-base of Effects

Ø the knowledge-base of Standards STEP 8 : Implement solutions by using only the free available resources of the system

STEP 9 : Analyze the modified system to verify that no new drawbacks appear

  1.9 Anticipatory Failure Determination and Directed Evolution :

These are two of the more recent additions to the tool box of TRIZ.

The Anticipatory Failure Determination (AFD) is a tool for systematically identifying and eliminating system failure before these occurs. (in answer to the question "How can we make the system fail ?"). Directed Evolution is an extension to the Trends of Evolution and allows the designer to anticipate a future scenario and visualize a future best selling product and aggressively move into its implementation.

2. Problem Solving using TRIZ tools :

Problem solving by TRIZ begins by stating the problem in the frame work of TRIZ and then applying appropriate TRIZ tool or method for resolving the said problem. For example the system problem may be connected with,
    1. A technical contradiction
    2. A Physical contradiction
    3. A function has to be performed and there is no known method
    4. An inefficient useful action
    5. A harmful action or effect
    6. A function has to be performed in a (somewhat) different way
    7. System is too complex
The problem descriptions (i), (ii) and (iii) satisfy the classic definition of an Inventive Problem. The problem descriptions (iv) and (v) fit into the classification of an Innovative Problem. The problem descriptions (iii) and (vi) indicate possibility new patents (or building patent fences/umbrella around the current product/ process). The problem description (iv), (v) and (vi) indicate system improvement. The problem description (vii) satisfy the Inventive Level 4 classification in the sense that no real contradiction is apparent and yet a new ‘simpler’ system is desirable.

It is now required to find an appropriate TRIZ method to solve the problem. TRIZ consists of 5 problem solving tools. These are listed below,

1. (Inventive) Principles to solve technical contradictions (the contradiction matrix)

2. Separation (Principles) to solve Physical contradictions (using available resources)

3. Standards for transformation of technical systems
    (for improving useful function and eliminating harm)

4. Scientific and Technical Effects (for synthesis of functions)

5. ARIZ - Algorithm to solve a (complex) inventive problem (with no explicit contradiction)

The process of Innovative problem solving begins with "Problem Definition"   2.1 Problem definition : The first and the main task in inventive problem solving by TRIZ still remains to be the toughest one - to identify and formulate the problem. The purpose of this paper is to concentrate on this aspect and yet cover the 4 top issues that were listed above as "heart of TRIZ" - namely Contradictions, Evolution, Ideality and Resources. The methodology adopted in this paper for doing this is simple - ask many questions till we get the answer. Like W.E. Deming has once said "Ask why 5 times", below I have compiled a list of questions one ought to ask to get the right answer. Questions we usually ask begin with 5 W's "Who?", "What?", where?, "when?" and "why?". The last one, "why?" is asked repeatedly till we get the answer! To complete the sequence of questions we need to add one more question starting with "how?" in an effort to find a possible answer or solution to the problem. I will therefore use a phrase "5W's and an H" first to identify the problem and then to provide a possible solution to it. Below I give a compilation of "5W's and an H" as used for each of the TRIZ keywords given above.

Innovative System / Situation Questionnaire

Even if one knows what is the problem, it is still a good idea to ask all the relevant questions, because it is important not to miss any aspect of the problem. The questions given below form the starting point of TRIZ application of the software by Ideation International.

    1. Name the system and its primary function
    2. What is the current and desired system structure?
    3. How does the system execute the primary function now?
    4. What is the operating environment?
    5. What are the available resources and natural phenomena?
    6. What are the problems or opportunities?
    7. What mechanism constrains achievement? History.
    8. Can a substitute problem be solved?
    9. What system changes are allowed, prohibited?
    10. What time, money, people issues constrain solutions? Previous attempts? Solved elsewhere?

  2.2 Identify the problem (System Contradictions) : Ask 5W’s and 1H

We begin with " 5W's and an H " of Innovation. Ask these question of every system so that the system function and problem is identified.

W1. Who has the problem?

W2. What does the problem seem to be? What are the resources?

W3. When does the problem occur? Under what circumstances?

W4. Where does the problem occur?

W5. Why does the problem occur? What is root cause?


H1. How does the problem occur? How can the problem be solved?

1Q. Who has the problem? : This clearly identifies the person connected with the problem. He could be one who is using the final product or anyone in the line-up of concept-to-market or a person at any of the product Life-stages (listed below),

stage 1: manufacture

stage 2: packaging

stage 3: storage

stage 4: transportation

stage 5: installation

stage 6: operation / use

stage 7: maintenance

stage 7: repair

2Q. What does the problem seem to be? What are the resources? :
Problem specification,

1. Try to specify a conflict/contradiction

-- as a technical contradiction or as a physical contradiction

2. Try to specify a harmful action/interaction/effect

3. Try to specify an inefficient useful action/interaction/effect

Determine what is a possible remedy by using a TRIZ tool (keeping track of the resources):

  1a. Technical Contradiction : use Contradiction Matrix

(39 parameters and 40 inventive principles)

1b. Physical Contradiction : use separation principles

(space, time, structure - parts/whole, on condition)

2. Harmful action/effect : use direct or indirect elimination

and standard solutions

3. Inefficient useful action/effect : use standard solutions

and scientific effects

3Q. When does the problem occur? Under what circumstances?
  Determine whether

-- Time of conflict is before Time of operation
-- Time of conflict is during Time of operation
-- Time of conflict is after Time of operation

Determine what are the available time resources

Possible remedy using a TRIZ tool :

-- Use "separation-in-time" principle for eliminating physical contradiction

4Q. Where does the problem occur?
  Determine what is the zone of conflict

>> where is the zone of conflict in relation to the Zone of operation?

-- zone of conflict is in the Super-system -- zone of conflict is same as zone of operation -- zone of conflict is in the Sub-system

Determine what are the available space resources

Possible remedy using a TRIZ tool :

-- Use "separation-in-space" principle for eliminating physical contradiction

5Q. Why does the problem occur? {"Ask WHY 5 times " - W. E. Deming} :

Identify the ‘function’ that creates/leads to the problem :

Identify 2 substances ( "tool" and "object" ) and 1 field (energy, enabling, acting force)

Is "tool", "object" or "field" causing the problem?

Determine what are the available substance/field resources

Possible remedy by using a TRIZ tool:

1. Harmful action/effect : use direct or indirect elimination and standard solutions

2. Inefficient useful action/effect : use standard solutions and scientific effects

1H. How does the problem occur?
  Keep asking " How? " till you reach the ‘root cause’ of the problem

" 5W's and an H " leads to a clear understanding of the problem along with the ideal final result, the resources available and the possible TRIZ tools to solve the problem.

  2.3 Ideal Final Result (IFR) and Ideality :

Ideal Final Result is very useful concept as it ,
  1. gives an implementation-free description (after the problem has been solved)
  2. focuses on functions needed (and not on the currently used processes and / or equipment)
  3. eliminates rework (by solving the ‘right’ problem the first time itself)
  4. leads to breakthrough thinking (about the solution and not inhibited/hindered by intervening problem)
IFR has the following characteristics,
  1. Eliminates the deficiencies of the original system
  2. Preserves advantages of the original system
  3. Does not make the original system more complicated (uses free or available resources)
  4. Does not introduce new disadvantages
The main advantages of IFR are
  1. Encourages Breakthrough Thinking (eliminates / avoids psychological inertia)
  2. Inhibits move to less ideal solutions (rejects compromises)
  3. Clearly establishes the boundaries of the solutions
Ideality as a measure of progress towards IFR:

One of the basic findings of TRIZ is that "Systems evolve towards increased ideality", where ideality is defined as



Ideality  =   - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -   Costs   +   Harms

Evolution is always in the direction of increasing benefits, decreasing costs, and decreasing harm (so as to give increased Ideality)

  2.4 System Resources :

TRIZ:Zlotin and Zusman (1989) consider the following types of resources for a technical system:
    1. Space Resources,
    2. Time Resources,
    3. System resources,
    4. Function Resources,
    5. Information,
    6. Substances,
    7. Energy and Field Resources,
In TRIZ, a system is considered as a "system of systems" i.e. a "hierarchical system" consisting of supersystem, base system and the subsystems. Thus, all available resources of supersystem, base system and the subsystems are taken as "resources" of the system.

  2.5 What issues are addressed by TRIZ ?

Finally, we have questions which will clearly answer as to what we expect if we apply the innovative TRIZ tools for solving problems,
    1. How to define problems in the complex practical situations?
    2. How to develop breakthrough concepts of solutions?
    3. How to overcome psychological inertia and direct the creative effort towards most promising solution?
    4. How to replace tradeoffs with real solutions that satisfy all conflicting requirements?
    5. How to maximize utilization of available resources?
    6. How to visualize future evolution of the product or process?
    7. How to prevent possible (future) failure?

3. TechOptimizerTM software :

"TechOptimizerTM" is a software package[2] based on TRIZ methodology to assist in solving ‘difficult’ engineering problems in an inventive way. It consists of 5 modules,
    1. TechOptimizer,
    2. principles,
    3. predictions,
    4. effects,
    5. feature transfer
These are arranged in 2 groups :-     Group 1 - Problem solving modules:  
Effects, Principles and Predictions modules create new concepts for each of the formulated problems.

Definition: ‘Difficult’ engineering problems are those in which there are engineering or physical contradictions.

Engineering contradictions are conflicts between two different variables or requirements – for example, more ‘weight’ of zeolite is required so as to absorb more refrigerant (and give more cooling), but it creates a conflict by making the ‘regeneration’ of zeolite less effective.

A physical contradiction is one in which some variable should have two different values in the same place or at the same time. The above engineering contradiction can be stated as a physical contradiction in the following way - the layer of zeolite must be ‘thick’ (to accommodate more zeolite so as to absorb more refrigerant) and simultaneously be ‘thin’ (to quickly reach the temperature of the panel).

The Principles module helps eliminate the contradictions or conflicts by giving several analogous examples from knowledge (Patent) data bases from which an appropriate inventive solution for the present problem can be arrived at. The Effects module allows one to access examples from patent data base wherein known physical, chemical and geometrical effects have been used in analogous situations. The Prediction module suggests futuristic solutions by referring to 1-out-of-22 ‘trends of evolution’ which are derived from the same patent invention database.

   Group 2 - TechOptimizer module and Feature transfer module:  
These modules help formulate clear problem statements. It makes logical decisions based on its own proprietary Value-Quotients.

TechOptimizerTM has a ‘Problem Manager’, which receives, as input, a simple function model showing interaction between one object and another. The problem manager suggests concepts which would correct insufficient or excessive useful action and eliminate harmful action by separating them in time, space and / or structure. For each interaction between objects in the function model diagram, one or more concepts for improving the said actions are recommended with the help of scientific effects and engineering examples from a knowledge database extracted from 2.5 million patents. It also recommends trimming of a component which is not effectively used or whose useful function can be performed by one of the other existing components. Feature transfer module compares two alternate systems, each having useful and harmful interactions between components, and recommends how useful functions can be transferred from one alternate system to another.

  3.1 Function Model and Trimming :

TechOptimizer module deals with the function model of the system under consideration – the solar cooling system. It receives, as input, a simple function model showing interactions between various components of the system. These interactions can be useful or harmful. A useful interaction may be insufficient, normal or excessive. Only ‘normal’ interaction is considered acceptable. A harmful interaction, whether small or large, is considered unacceptable.

A system keeps on evolving according to one of the trends of evolution. Engineers all over the world like to add new features or functions through addition of parts or substitution of materials. Sometimes, in an effort to keep the ‘parts’ and ‘functions’ grouped together, the system complexity increases with implementation of every of new functional requirements. The systems usually get lot of ‘padding’, implying that new resources are added but not efficiently used! This is essentially the

            Trend #5 "Increasing complexity followed by simplicity through integration."

Trimming a technical system is, therefore, one of the best methods of getting rid of one or more of the parts/components and thus initiate the process of integration. Every part in a technical system performs a function. However, it may not be doing so reliably or efficiently. Furthermore, it may actually have a harmful effect associated with it. This will need correcting or will reduce efficiency of performing useful function. Thus, every component in a function model is shown with links that are either

    1. Useful (shown as single line in blue)
    2. Harmful (shown as double line in red)
Trimming :

Parts are to be eliminated or "trimmed" while their useful functions are still performed. The useful function may be performed by another part in a sub-system, or the super-system. This is illustrated using the example of a solar cooling system.

A function model of the solar cooling system, given as input to the TechOptimizer, is shown in Figure 2. An example of insufficient useful interaction is - solar panel raising the temperature of the zeolite may be insufficient for ‘regeneration’ of the zeolite. An example of harmful interaction is – ambient air cools the solar panel and thus reduces the highest temperature the panel can reach.

Figure 2.  Function model of Solar Cooling System before trimming
Trimming example contd. :

The ‘problem manager’ of TechOptimizer suggests concepts for eliminating the ‘harmful’ and improving the ‘partly useful’ interactions. It also grades the components with ‘problem rank’ and suggests ‘trimming’ action for an inefficient component. In the existing solar cooling system, the component called ‘container’ was trimmed and its useful function (to accept condensate from ‘condenser’) was transferred to ‘Evaporator’. The system thus became simpler and more efficient. The function model after trimming is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3.  Function model of Solar Cooling System after trimming


TRIZ methodology can be applied to create quality in an engineering systems or product, Furthermore, all tools of TRIZ are quality tools if we consider the definition of quality in a wider sense. The tools available in TechOptimizer are indicated in bold against different quality criteria;

  QUALITY     using                                                       TechOptimizer Modules

- Quality of manufacturing (processes)                       àTrimming

- Quality of product                                                        àPrinciples and effects

- Value or cost or the ratio of benefits/cost                 àTrimming

- Competitiveness                                                         àFeature Transfer

- Environmental quality                                                  àEffects and Prediction

5. TRIZ and other 'creative' tools :

As TRIZ solves engineering problems in an inventive way it is appropriate to compare it with other 'creative' tools like brainstorming, de Bono's Lateral Thinking etc. which are widely used in business problem solving.   5.1 TRIZ and Brainstorming : Brainstorming is a free-for-all-ideas session, generally aimed at encouraging out-of-box thinking mode. The main condition of the brainstorming session is that criticism on or about any new idea is forbidden. All participants are only required to give their own new suggestions and they are not to dwell on other's ideas. TRIZ uses similar technique once the problem has been defined with the help of a S-Field model. Solutions concepts from all fields are to be considered as equally likely for each of the possible system transformation. Any transformations that utilize the resources best and lead closer to the ideal final result are to be evaluated for implementation.

  5.2 TRIZ and de Bono’s Thinking Hats :

Edward de Bono proposes to use 6 thinking hats to switch on and off the 6 thinking modes, so that the problem is looked at from all possible aspects. Below is given a comparison between TRIZ and thinking hats,

Color of Hat Thinking mode TRIZ analysis/problem solving

    1. White Hat : (facts) (identify and formulate the problem)
    2. Red Hat : (emotions) (analyze the problem)
    3. Black Hat : (negative judgement) (evaluation/selection)
    4. Yellow Hat : (positive speculation) (several possible solutions)
    5. Green Hat : (creativity) (many solutions from other fields)
    6. Blue Hat : (control of thinking) (implementability)
TRIZ especially helps "green hat" thinking mode by generating many "new ideas" when confronted with engineering problems.

  5.3 TRIZ and Lateral Thinking :

Edward de Bono proposed to use 6 lateral thinking methods to provoke "creativity"

Thinking modes                         Example                        TRIZ's creative features

    1. Escape                    (what others take for granted)                (remove all jargon)

    3. Reversal                  (reverse the current direction)                (eliminate harm)

    5. Exaggerate              (normal measurements)                            (TDC operator – time, dimension, cost)

    7. Distort process                 (A-B-C-D becomes B-A-C-D)                 (intensify conflict)

    9. Wishful thinking                 (wouldn't it be nice if. . . )                        (think of ideal system)

    11. Random word                     (association, Ex. gold - mine)                 (an 'action' with effects database)

  5.4 Synergy between QFD, Taguchi and TRIZ :

The paper also briefly points to the synergy between innovative TRIZ and two of the most important quality tools viz. QFD and TAGUCHI methods. While QFD and Taguchi methods have originated in Japan, TRIZ has originated in Russia (earlier USSR).

QFD concentrates on "what the customer wants?" Thus, it really defines the "Functional Requirements" (FR’s), without actually concerning directly with the question : "how these FR’s are met and which technology is used?". The "house of quality" does, however, qualitatively shows the gaps between organization's capabilities and customer requirements. QFD’s "house of quality" can be used to point out conflicts and the parameters that conflict. This can be directly used by TRIZ’s Contradiction Matrix to eliminate the conflict.

Taguchi methods are experimental statistical methods to optimize a given process technology with respect to an objective function defined as

Objective function  =  10 Log10 {Ideality}   =  10 Log10 { Benefits   /  ( Costs + Harms ) }

Variance is in fact reduced in presence of noise (variations in the control parameters of the process) and thus the product/process becomes "robust" and "low cost". It is primarily an optimization technique and suggests "optimum" parameter settings for best results. However, should there be trade-off situations, the ANOVA plots point to the situations requiring "trade-off". This occurs when two or more process parameters have conflicting effect on two distinct desired characteristics (technical contradiction) or when low and high levels of one single parameter result in improving one desired characteristics while the middle level gives worsening characteristics (physical contradiction).

The Taguchi method thus points out clearly the technical and physical contradictions and thus helps TRIZ in the sense of identification of the problem becomes easy. TRIZ tools can then be applied to resolve the contradictions. Exactly in the opposite way, the innovative solution concepts of TRIZ can be verified, evaluated, implemented by planning an experiment where parameter settings can be optimized and best process can be selected.

Thus, the synergy between QFD, Taguchi and TRIZ can be utilized for developing future products, right from conception to market.


General :
      1. G. Altshuller (H. Altov), English translation by Lev Shulyak,

      2. "And Suddenly the Inventor Appeared: TRIZ, the Theory of Inventive Problem,
        Technical Innovation Center, Inc., USA (1994)
      3. Genrich Altshuller, English translation by Anthony Williams

      4. "Creativity as an Exact Science", American Supplier Institute, 1988.
      5. The TRIZ Journal
      6. American Supplier Institute
      7. TRIZ Empire Home Page,
      8. The TRIZ Experts Home Page,

      9. Invention Machine Corp.
      10. Ideation International Inc.

      11. USA gov. patent office (free) Http://
      12. IBM patent archive (free) Http://
      13. Free patent site

    Papers :

      1. P.R. Apte, M.L. Amrute, H.J. Kadakia, S. Deshpande,

      2. "Improving quality of solar cooling system with TRIZ",
        Proc. World Congress on Total Quality (WCTQ), (1999), pp519-524
      3. P.R. Apte, "TRIZ in MEMS"

      4. Indo-Russian Workshop on Micromechanical Systems,
        Proc. Of SPIE, Vol. 3903, pp42-47
      5. P.R. Apte and Harish Shah,

      6. "5W's and an H of Innovation : TRIZ",
        Proc. World Congress on Total Quality (WCTQ), (2000), pp224-237
      7. P.R. Apte, Harish Shah and Darrell L. Mann

      8. "5W's and an H" of  TRIZ Innovation",
        TRIZ-journal, Sept. 2001, article #4 (this is a revised version of an earlier paper)

Chronological order of TRIZ development :

1926 : Altshuller born on October 15, 1926

1946 : Patterns of Evolution / or Objective Trends of Evolution of technical systems

1948 : Technical and Engineering contradictions
1952 : ARIZ - a step-by-step procedure was developed (while in prison) and
            was meant as "instructions to Inventors". Altshuller gave it the name ARIZ in 1970
1959 : Ideal Final Result

1964 : In 1964 - Systematic analysis of patents was started

By 1968 it yielded the first table of 35 Inventive Principles
Finally in 1971, 5 more Inventive Principles were added
The table or Altshuller's Matrix was thus complete.
1970 : Physical contradictions : The existence of physical contradictions behind technical or
            engineering contradictions was revealed. Physical Contradictions and Separation Principles were included in ARIZ-75

1970 : Standard Solutions : In 1970s Altshuller begun to develop standard solutions of inventive problems.

1972 : Physical effects : The first lists of physical effects were prepared.

1973 : Substance-Field model : Altshuller found that problems and solutions can be described with so called
            substance-field models.

1975 : Database of scientific and technical effects

1977 : ARIZ-77 worked now together with the patterns or trends of evolution, substance-field-transformations and
            compiled guides of effects.

1977 : Standard Solutions : In 1977 existed 10 standards.

1985 : Standard Solutions : the system of 76 standards was published

More recent developments in TRIZ

1990 : In 1990s TRIZ got popular in the US, Germany, Japan and many other countries.
            The TRIZ theory and tools are now being developed and practiced throughout the world.

1992 : Anticipatory Failure Determination

1995 : Directed Evolution

1992 -1997 : Software (IM-Lab, TechOptimizer 2.5, TechOptimizer 3.0)
                     by Invention Machine Corporation, USA

1995 -1999 : Software (Ideator, Improver, Eliminator, Ideation Work-Bench, AFD)
                     by Ideation International Incorporated, USA

Altshuller died on September 24, 1998

1999 : Software by Ideation (Safety System)


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