Use an abbreviated version of this methodology to trigger more brainstorm ideas.
TRIZ—or the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving—was developed in the 1940’s by the Soviet patent inspector, Genrikh Altshuller. He observed that inventing is the removal of a technical contradiction, with the help of certain principles. There are fine consultants you may want to engage who can help you apply this methodology. But we’ll explore here a type of “TRIZ-light” in which you use these principles as triggers for your brainstorming.
Altshuller reviewed 40,000 patents and developed 40 principles of invention as a result. Here are some examples of these principles:
- # 10, Preliminary Action—is perform, before needed, the required change of an object… pre-pasted wallpaper, for instance.
- #23, Feedback—is introduce feedback to improve a process or action… like software help screens.
- #40, Composite Materials—is change from uniform to composite materials… as in fiberglass surfboards.
So how would you use the 40 principles? Suppose you made nail guns and wanted to make the nail storage chamber longer to hold more nails—without increasing the nail gun’s weight.
You’d look at a TRIZ Contradictions Table and find the feature you wanted to improve… in this case, #4: Length of stationary object. Then you’d look under the contradictory or “worsening” feature… in this case “Weight of stationary object” to find 4 principles that might help. (See below.) One of them, Principle #40 encourages you to look at composite materials for your nail gun.
Logical, “left-brain” thinkers tend to appreciate TRIZ, while creative “right-brain” thinkers often enjoy brainstorming. Consider combining them: In this case, you could use TRIZ principles 35, 28, 40 and 29 as triggers to help your brainstorming group generate more ideas. There’s a lot more to this than we’ve covered here, so consider getting some expert help. You can find this table, all 40 principles and more at the non-profit Altshuller Institute for TRIZ Studies at www.aitriz.org. Another website has an especially nice tool for examining these principles: http://www.triz40.com/TRIZ_GB.php.
For more on this topic, see e-Learning Module 29: Technical Brainstorming at www.blueprintingcenter.com > e-Learning.
Keywords: Blueprinting Step 6: Technical Brainstorming, solution brainstorming, solution ideation, TRIZ, theory of inventive problem solving, feature to improve, worsening feature, TRIZ contradictions