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Efficient Use of the System Operator

Efficient Use of the System Operator

| On 08, Jan 1998

Gregory Frenklach

The System Operator is one of the main TRIZ instruments and, of course, one of the best
instruments for systematization of thinking.

According to the System Operator we have to take into account not only the system
itself but also its super-system and subsystems. We have to look at the system in the
context of its development. Thus for the system, super-system and subsystem we take into
account the present, the past and the future… It is like “switching on” at
least 9 screens to view these different time periods for each level. Sometimes this
operation is enough to find the solution.

Subsystem System Super-System



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The TRIZ literature analysis shows that we use the System Operator under a variety of
different conditions:

  1. When we state the correct problem; that is, to find the problem which is worth solving;
  2. When we look for solution for a problem;
  3. When we want to determine the trend of a system development.

Therefore there are different rules for the using the System Operator under these
different conditions.

1. The correct problem statement.

We assume the problem in any technological system as an undesirable effect.

Thus (in order to apply the System operator) we consider the undesirable effect (UDE)
and the element connected with this UDE as our system.

For example: We can’t increase the speed of an aircraft because of the air
resistance to the wings. The element connected with this UDE is wing.

a. As subsystem we assume the sub-UDE which appears if the known methods of the
original problem (air resistance) are used.

For example: If we will make the area of the wings less – the another UDE will appear
–we have to increase the take of speed off our aircraft… And the element connected with
this UDE is the airport runway, which will have to be too long…

b. As super system we assume the super-UDE, which appears if we remove the element
connected with the original UDE.

For example: We remove the wings. So there isn’t air resistance to wings, but we have
the new UDE connected with non-performance of the wings’function…

c. As the past system we assume the past-UDE which is the reason of our original one.

For example: Maybe the reason for air resistance to wings is the vortex motion of air
which is caused by the wing surface… And the element which is connected with this UDE is
part of the surface of the wings…

d. As the future system we assume the future-UDE, which will be result if the original
UDE was not eliminated.

For example: The loss of time because of the low speed of our aircraft.

It depends on You to choose the problem for solving, based on the resources You have.

Problem solving.

a. When we look for the solution for our problem we assume as our system the concrete
function carrier.

For example: If we have problem with a mixer we take into account this specific mixer
under its specific conditions!!!

b. For time (past system- future system) axis we assume as our system the operation of
the technological process. Thus the future and the past systems are the systems for the
previous and the next operation.

For example: For our mixer the previous and next operations are as follows:

Previous – Preparing the ingredients

Next– The action with the ready mixture.

Thus we can determine the past and future system accordingly…

c. For the component (super, sub system) axis we assume as our system the construction
(structure, thing). So the subsystems are the system’s components and our system is the
component of the super-system. It is clear enough, but there is a little addition. We have
to consider the super and sub systems for:

  1. Function carriers;
  2. Functions;
  3. Function’s objects.

This makes the problem solving process easier. And the laws of transition into
super-system and into micro-level work very well here (mono-bi-poly transitions, anti- or
competitive systems, joining etc.)

The easy way to remember how to build the chart is:

  • consider the process when you work with the time axis
  • consider the element (structure, thing) when you work with the component axis.

Trends of the system development determination.

When we want to determine the basic trend of the system development we assume as our
system the abstract function carrier.

For example: We will take into account instead of specific mixer, abstract systems for
performing the action “to mix” and their past, future, and so on..

The work under these conditions is described very well in TRIZ books and other TRIZ
sources. Read them for more information.


  • G. Altshuller. (Translated by Tony Williams) Creativity as an Exact Science.
  • H. Altov (Altshuller pseudonym, translated by Lev Shulyak) And Suddenly the
    Inventor Appeared.
  • Both books are available from Breakthrough Press,