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Management Response to Inventive Thinking - (TRIZ) In a Public Transportation Agency

Management Response to Inventive Thinking – (TRIZ) In a Public Transportation Agency

| On 19, May 2000

Management Response to Inventive Thinking – (TRIZ) In a Public Transportation Agency

This paper was first presented and published in the conference proceedings of the Transportation Research Board’s 79th Annual Meeting held on January 9-13, 2000 in Washington D.C.

The decision style evaluation was described in The TRIZ Journal in October, 1998, in the article “(TRIZ)OE = Improving TRIZ Results by Dynamically Matching Tools to Teams” by Steve Ungvari.

Michelle A. Skrupskis
New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department
Research Bureau


Steven F. Ungvari
Strategic Product Innovations Inc.
7591 Brighton Rd.


The need for better ways to solve complex problems facing public transportation entities led to a collaborative research effort to assess the application of TRIZ, a Russian acronym for Teoriya Resheniya Izobreatatelskikh Zadatch, or “The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving,” concepts to management within a state highway and transportation department. The effort was based on the department’s emphasis on achieving quality results. This is the first application of TRIZ to a public transportation entity.

The hypothesis tested whether there exists a correlation between individuals’ educational backgrounds, engineering and/or science orientations, and/or job experiences, and their ability to apply the TRIZ technique to problem solving. Further, an assessment was made of decision making styles to determine what effect they might have on TRIZ.

The research evaluated the deployment of TRIZ in a state transportation department to encourage unconventional answers to problems. The scientific approach provides a role in policy change directly related to quality orientation. Quality orientation is based on the management tool referred to as Total Quality Management (TQM). It provides organizations with an integrated, results-oriented framework for implementing and assessing processes for managing all operations. It was discovered that TRIZ can be applied to individuals regardless of educational backgrounds or job experiences. The unique TRIZ application within a public transportation entity lays the foundation for longer term scientific innovation in transportation research as it applies directly to work in the field where true innovation is born. The experience further revealed that the provision of service by public transportation entities is enhanced with the tool’s ability to encourage inventive approaches to problem solving.

Key Words: TRIZ, quality, inherent contradiction, resources


Why Innovation in Transportation?

This collaborative research effort explored the perceived link between the approach toward the provision of service by a public transportation agency and the scientific approach to innovative, inventive thinking inherent in TRIZ methodology. TRIZ is a Russian acronym for Teoriya Resheniya Izobreatatelskikh Zadatch, or “The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving.” The quality approach, or orientation is based on the transportation department’s management system which supports the Total Quality Management (TQM) tool for achieving excellence. This is based largely on customer-driven defined satisfaction or quality, process management and business results (1). Historically, decisions made in many governmental organizations have not necessarily used scientific, or rational means to achieve quality while also exercising fiscal prudence and responsiveness to customers. Rather, decisions are made as a function of time. This time function depends on political agendas and available time of those in office, per their respective elected terms. Decisions made often reflect compromised solutions.

In recent years, public entities have looked for ways to better utilize existing resources rather than seeking additional resources. One result has been a move toward outsourcing to obtain better value for their limited funding. The need to maintain costs and increase quality, demanded by the public, has become a heightened dilemma within public transportation agency operations. The push for outsourcing goods and services in an attempt to address this has recently become predominant in public transportation agencies nationwide (2).

In New Mexicothere is a need for seeking less conventional, more inventive means of solving problems within a public transportation agency environment without compromising quality. Transportation agencies are required to provide the necessary highway and transportation infrastructure to facilitate efficient access and mobility for system users. In an era of limited resources and greater public scrutiny of expenditures, the TRIZ methodology provides a means for resolving “inventive problems” utilizing resources inherent within the system itself. Inventive problems are those with at least one inherent contradiction. This concept proved extremely appealing to the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department Cabinet Secretary Pete K. Rahn. Rather than continuing to apply compromise solutions, often resulting in “band-aid” type results, TRIZ provides tools for removing the inherent contradiction within any inventive problem. The Secretary saw the potential to avoid complicating the system with the more conventional solutions applied to problems facing the department. Such problems include stressing the system with the continued addition of more resources, i.e. equipment, personnel, and funding. TRIZ provides the conceptual solutions based on tested engineering practices, referred to as “breakthrough engineering,” and looks within the system itself to solve the problem or problems. Problems that have at least one inherent contradiction are solved.

Background on the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department

New Mexico’s geography and population strongly influence its transportation systems. The nation’s fifth largest state, New Mexico covers more than 121,000 square miles, yet has a population of only about 1.5 million people clustered mostly in a few urban areas (3). Highways are therefore the dominant transport mode. As part of its “business” the highway and transportation department is quite concerned with the social, cultural, economic and environmental issues inherent in its projects. People care about what research is and what we do – community and environmental issues are critical to our quality of life. To engage in such areas is simply good business. When done properly, environmental and community-based research results in big cost savings, provides jobs in the private sector, and encourages economic development. New Mexico’s reliance on highways is a result of the large area the state covers, its sparse population and the concentration of business and government activities in a few cities.

These diverse, more politically complex concerns demand greater public involvement and therefore produce greater scrutiny of actions taken. The Department cares about its image, its efficiency, and its communication, as well as its costs. The Department cares, for example, about construction projects being completed within budget, synchronicity between land use, development and the transportation highway infrastructure, mitigating congestion and pollution, and the corresponding preservation of our natural resources. In essence, a “new” public transportation entity has been created based on new, more expansive Transportation Equity Act (TEA-21) directives. TEA-21 establishes national policies responsive to demands of the general public which incorporate, “Sustainable Communities,” “Access to Jobs,” and “Alternative Transportation Systems.” TRIZ enables transportation agencies to identify solutions to the obstacles faced in achieving these concepts.

What is TRIZ ?

TRIZ is a Russian language acronym for Teoriya Resheniya Izobreatatelskikh Zadatch. Translated into English it means “The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving.” TRIZ is the product of an exhaustive analysis of the world’s most creative technological innovations as described in worldwide patent literature. This analysis has been conducted over a fifty-year period with the total number of patents analyzed now totaling approximately three million.

The objective of TRIZ is to discover how inventors invent. Trying to understand the inventive process was aimed specifically at inventions that solved difficult engineering problems in novel ways. The problems considered were difficult because they contained one or several contradictory requirements, e.g., speed vs precision and a situation where compromise was no longer an acceptable solution.

For a solution to be labeled “novel” or “inventive,” it had to comply with five requirements:

1.The solution fully resolved the contradictory requirements, e.g., speed with precision

2.The solution preserved all of the advantages of the previous system

3.The solution eliminated the disadvantages of the previous system

4.The solution did not introduce any new disadvantages

5.The solution did not make the system more complex

The fifty-year study of inventions has uncovered a comprehensive set of analytical and knowledge based tools that previously existed implicitly in the minds of the world’s most creative inventors. TRIZ has codified the implicit process of invention, and by making it explicit, made invention available to anyone with a reasonable amount of intelligence. The result of this combined with the TRIZ Levels of Inventiveness distinguishes it from other problem solving management systems and includes a theory of invention with the following criteria:

·Be systematic and provide a step-by-step process

·Guide the process of invention through a broad solution space to direct the process to the most ideal solution

·The process needed to be reliable and repeatable across a wide spectrum of problems

·The process should not be dependent on psychological aids such as brainstorming

·The process should take advantage and access the body of inventive knowledge

·The process must add to the body of inventive knowledge

The Link of TRIZ to Quality and the Scientific Approach

The field of creative thinking is littered with many different approaches and techniques. The range of techniques spans the spectrum from psychologically based approaches such as brainstorming and synetics to knowledge based approaches such as Value Engineering and Morphological Analysis.

Psychological methods such as brainstorming are aimed at tapping into the “creative” sub-conscious mind to stimulate the process of idea generation. The rules for these types of approaches emphasize quantity over quality and the separation of idea generation from idea evaluation. The three critical assumptions in psychologically based techniques such as brainstorming are:

·The best solution to a problem is lurking in the mind of the individuals involved in the exercise.

·In the freeform “creative” atmosphere of the storm, the idea will be articulated.

·The idea will be recognized as the “best idea” and chosen from the myriad of others that had been proposed.

There is no doubt that brainstorming can be an effective tool for generating ideas. It does not, however, follow the scientific method. The results of brainstorming are highly dependent on the quality of the experts involved in the activity. Since its inception in the early 1940s, brainstorming has been useful in providing a tool for solving non-scientific problems such as those found in advertising and marketing. Brainstorming has not been effective at all in dealing with complex technological problems such as those encountered in transportation.

A more scientific approach to problem solving can be found in knowledge based techniques such as Value Engineering as invented by L. Miles of General Electric. These methods proved very useful in taking knowledge of existing products, materials, and components and utilizing them in new ways to reduce cost and enhance the “value proposition” of the product being improved. In essence, these approaches restructure current knowledge and apply it in a creative way.

The shortcoming of both types of approaches is that the creative thinking process is initiated from articulating the problem at hand; the “as is” condition. This is analogous to building a road from a known location but without identifying the road’s termination point. While the road will end somewhere, the question is – is it where we wanted it to be? No doubt too, the road will be built along the path of least resistance. In the TRIZ lexicon, this phenomenon is called Psychological Inertia (PI). Psychological inertia acts as a guide leading one to a solution space that comports to the problem solver’s technological paradigm. For example, a chemical engineer will attempt to solve a problem through chemistry and not mechanics or electronics. The solution space is limited to the individual’s knowledge, experience and comfort zone even though the ideal solution may be a mechanical one.

TRIZ was developed by Genrich Altshuller, a Soviet Navy Patents expert and is very different because one of the first steps in the TRIZ process is an articulation of the “Ideal Final Result (IFR).” In other words, the ideal end state is defined first and working backwards from there, and a list of reasons and impediments blocking its clear achievement is made manifest. This list of problems is then prioritized and a strategy to overcome them in order to achieve the ideal final result is devised. This strategy is exactly the same as Habit 2 – Start With the End in Mind in Steven R. Covey’s best seller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

A Scientific Approach to Innovation Utilizing TRIZ

TRIZ was and is still being developed through an empirical approach to answering the question “how does invention happen?” Additionally, Altshuller’s analysis of thousands of inventions led to two early significant discoveries.

1.Inventions are vastly different in their degree of “inventiveness.” To differentiate how inventive a solution was, Altshuller devised a 1-5 scale for categorizing the level of inventiveness (4).

Levels of Inventiveness

·Level 1: Parametric Solution

·A solution utilizing well known within an engineering field of specialty

·Level 2: Significant Improvement

·A significant improvement in the system utilizing known methods possible from several engineering disciplines

·Level 3: Invention Within the paradigm

·Elimination of conflicting demands within the system utilizing technologies within the current technological paradigm

·Level 4: Invention Outside the paradigm

·Creation of a new generation of a system with a solution derived not in technology but in science

·Level 5: True Discovery

·A discovery beyond the boundaries of contemporary science

Given the fact that Altshuller was searching for, and discovered, a systematic process for inventing, TRIZ should be used for level 3 and 4 problems. Level 1 and 2 problems can be solved utilizing known methods and technologies. Also, these problems are not deemed to be so critical that an engineering compromise is out-of-the-question. The five levels of inventiveness are extremely useful for understanding the scope of the challenge when faced with a difficult problem. Achieving a level three or level four solution, if that is what is demanded by the problem, is considerably more difficult to achieve and implement as opposed to a conventional solution.

2.The second profound discovery made by Altshuller is that technological systems evolve according to “regularities” or consistent repeatable patterns. The patterns of evolution are articulated in the form of eight Laws of Development of Technological Systems (5).

Laws of Development of Technological Systems

1.Law of System Completeness

2.Law of Uneven Development of System Elements

3.Law of Increasing Dynamism

4.Law of Harmonization of Rhythms

5.Law of Increasing Efficiency in Energy Conductivity

6.Law of Transition to a Supersystem

7.Law of Transition from Macro to Micro Level

8.Law of Increased Levels of Automation

The Laws provide a significant and repeatable pattern of evolution that is useful for predicting future systems evolution and just as predictably, future systems problems. Many of these Laws are already visible in today’s transportation systems. For example, the mismatches between vehicle capabilities and transportation infrastructure reflect the discontinuities reflected in Law 2. Movable barriers on bridges reflect the need for flexibility and dynamism explained by Law 3. Metered on-ramp traffic control reflects the need for overall system harmony stated in Law 4. Smart highways reflect movement toward Law 8 – Increased Levels of Automation.

At a 1998 meeting, Department leaders were briefed on TRIZ principles and its applicability to transportation systems. The Department then designed and implemented a TRIZ training program for Department managers beginning in April 1999. This group known as the Trailblazers consists of personnel from all sections within the Department and provides a wide range of diverse backgrounds, education, and job experiences. It was believed that the concepts would provide an additional management tool for solving problems. The Trailblazer training in TRIZ was part of the Department’s move toward quality improvement. The Secretary required TRIZ training for all persons reporting directly to him in an advisory capacity, and also strongly encouraged all mid-level managers to attend. Explicit in this approach was the collaboration between a key outside expert and the Principal Investigator (PI), who designed the training workshops accordingly. It is important to note that all of the funding expended for this initiative was from State Planning and Research funds.

The Department personnel exposed to TRIZ prior to the Trailblazer training perceived that it provides a structured process for maneuvering outside the box; something that could be utilized immediately. Other comments from prior Trailblazer training included “we know what we want, but don’t know how to get there; the tools provided with TRIZ facilitate this.” Further, “it prevents compromised solutions, which historically is what we do.”Subsequent to the training provided to these individuals, it was decided to provide a similar, but somewhat condensed, version of the TRIZ training to a larger cross section of department managers.

Once the training of the Trailblazers took place, many mangers commented that TRIZ provided them with the tools to get beyond common problems. Common references among the managers were similar to a “leap of logic” once the TRIZ methodologies were understood. This, regarding year long problems, related not only to management and engineering oriented problems, but to environmental ones as well. An example of TRIZ in action, was a retention pond issue within the state. The issue in conflict had to do with the pond depth necessary to create a rapid evaporation rate versus the square footage and hence cost to obtain enough of a right-of-way. From a TRIZ standpoint this is a classical problem. As we improve feature A, feature B is deteriorated and vice-versa. For example, shallow ponds covering a large area produced rapid evaporation (good) but made right-of-way costs high (bad). As cutting-edge methodology applied to a public transportation entity, it established the foundation for institutional change and for a long-range role for research in applying inventive applications toward problem solving.

The ideal solution to this problem is to increase the rate of runoff elimination while not increasing right-of-way costs by having to buy large tracts of land. Using TRIZ language, one pair of conflicting parameters are “Speed” versus “Waste of Substance,” and “Speed” versus “Harmful side Effects.” While many other combinations were examined, the knowledge base suggested the following Inventive Principles: “Taking Out,” i.e. a) Extract (remove or separate) a “disturbing” part or property, from an object or b) Extract the only necessary part or property of the object required to solve the problem, “The Other Way Around,” i.e. a) Instead of an action dictated by the specifications of the problem, implement an opposite action, or b) Make a moving part of the object or the outside environment immovable and the non-moving part moveable, i.e. “Preliminary Action,” i.e. a) Perform, either fully or partially, before it is needed, the required change(s) of an object or b) Arrange objects so they can perform their required functions without loss of time waiting for some other action, and “Parameter Changes, ” i.e. a) Change an object’s physical state, b) Change the concentration or consistency of an object, or c) Change the degree of flexibility of an object, or d) Change the temperature of the object. The suggested solution was to “turn the retention pond on its side.” In other words, the concept is to create the ability to retain water vertically. This solution satisfies the need for detention while not increasing the cost of obtaining right-of-way. Of course, this is a conceptual solution to the conflict. It is obvious that many details need to be investigated before the idea is deemed to be feasible. Overall, it was believed there is true success in its application.

In addition to linking TRIZ to quality improvement within the Department, the intent was to test the understanding and applicability of TRIZ to non-technically oriented persons. The TRIZ Consultant believed that anyone with average intelligence, not just engineers, or scientifically trained individuals would benefit.

To conduct the assessment, researchers utilized the 2 day TRIZ training workshops. Workshop attendees initially received a brief explanation of TRIZ and how it differs from traditional problem solving techniques. The attendees were also asked to select an “inventive” problem to be solved in the class. A guideline outlining the criterion of what constitutes an inventive problem was provided to assist in problem selection. In addition, individuals were asked to complete the “I-Opt”™ Organizational Engineering (OE) Strategic Decision Making Instrument (6) to assist in efforts to fully understand the applicability of TRIZ in a public transportation agency. This other tool, Organizational Engineering was incorporated into the research. Organizational Engineering (OE) is a sociological instrument that measures individual, team or any group’s preferred strategy for making decisions. The instrument categorizes decision making along two axes — mode and method. The mode dimension classifies decision making as either action oriented or thought oriented. The method dimension describes the process of decision making as either logical or relational. Each of the characteristics are described briefly below.


·Action Orientation.(Reactive Stimulator – RS) The action oriented RS has a tendency to react immediately to a situation seeking quick results. Details are sacrificed in favor of results now!

·Thought Orientation (Hypothetical Analyzer – HA) The HA enjoys complexity and will carefully consider every alternative before making a decision.


·Logical Thinking (Logical Processor – LP) The LP is logical, methodical, paced and not easily deterred from an objective. They enjoy details and clear precise directions.

·Relational Thinking (Relational Innovator – RI) The RI is the idea generator. They have the ability to forge relationships between divergent ideas and integrate them into coherent theories.

The validity of the OE instrument is not in question as it has been used in the public and private sector on over 10,000 individuals and more than 1,000 teams. Given the size of the database, several patterns have emerged as to preferential decision making styles that dominate technical and non-technical individuals. These styles are shown in Figure 3. This information provided the test data to ascertain the applicability of TRIZ to non-technically oriented persons.

Hypothesis, Results & Implications

The hypothesis is that the basic understanding and application of fundamental TRIZ concepts by persons with varied educational backgrounds and job experiences would prove positive and therefore valuable to a wide range of job situations within the diverse and often complex areas within a public transportation agency. This proved true.

In essence, individuals across the board, regardless of educational background or job experience, readily adapted to TRIZ techniques. In their view, TRIZ provided another problem solving tool which could assist their efforts in their daily work assignments.

The evaluation results bore this out. The functional relationship between the strength of TRIZ and the corresponding processing of it as collected from the Trailblazer group was correlated with the individual Organizational Engineering Surveys (OES) profiles reflecting the distinctions among the various individuals. The OES tool focuses on work-related behavioral attributes. It reveals how an individual makes decisions, solves problems and sets priorities in the work environment. The final outcome was positive and proved its universal application regardless of either educational or job backgrounds.

In the analysis of the independent variables, individuals fell within one of the four quadrants of the OES profiles. These are “Logical Processor” (LP), “Hypothetical Analyzer” (HA), “Relational Innovator” (RI) or “Reactive Stimulator” (RS). This was cross-referenced to questions related to whether they were satisfied overall with the course, and whether it would be useful in their respective jobs. There were no distinctions. TRIZ was both understood and accepted as applicable to their jobs. Therefore, it was evaluated as useful across job categories.

With this experience documented, policy may be forged for public transportation entities. More importantly, the public benefit may be realized with the application of TRIZ and the corresponding use of existing resources. Transportation research has an obligation to the people affected by our efforts. Our fundamental role as researchers is to understand need, design functional responses, demonstrate solutions and recommend action. This practice is the conduct of research. In this collaborative research project, we focused not only on other public transportation agencies, but on the nation’s transportation system from a more global view.

For public transportation agencies this research lays the foundation for the long term role of scientific innovation in transportation research. The application of TRIZ within a public entity is powerful in that the general public demand personalized services from their respective governments without providing for more resources. This is an inventive contradiction in and of itself. The “How” to resolve this dilemma or contradiction lies in the understanding and application of TRIZ methodologies.

Technical Vs. Non-Technical OE Styles

Given the divergence in decision making styles coupled with the scientific rigor of TRIZ the initial assumption was that the methodology would find favor and applicability in the technical community (HA – LP) more so than in the non-technical (RI – RS) one.

The results of multiple regression against satisfaction of the methodology scored an “R Squared” value of 7%. That means that only 7% of the variation in the can be explained by strategic decision making style. In other words, acceptance of TRIZ is essentially unrelated to strategic decision making style. Thus TRIZ is roughly acceptable to all styles.

The regression data on Applicability to their job showed an “R Squared” of 9%. Again, little correlation. The conclusion that can be drawn is that TRIZ is applicable to both the technical as well as the non-technical community.

Additionally, the 65 course evaluations rated their satisfaction with TRIZ at 4.1 (Likert) and 6.1 (1-10) on applicability to their job.

TRIZ Applicability Assessment/Method

Because TRIZ is a fundamentally new way of approaching problem solving, the conduct of research required careful planning and a robust deployment strategy. This, in turn, necessitated close coordination and communication between the Principle Investigator (PI) and the Subject Matter Expert (SME), or TRIZ Consultant.

The core issue that was of concern to both the PI and the SME was whether or not TRIZ was an applicable methodology to attack the problems posed in modern transportation systems. The secondary issues surrounding the central core concern was whether or not the mix of technical and non-technical individuals working in transportation would understand and be able to utilize TRIZ in the context of a team based approach to problem solving.

In order to answer those questions, a methodology that included several crucial components was devised. First the question as to the applicability of TRIZ to a public transportation agency necessitated clarification and secondly whether or not technical or non technical personnel viewed TRIZ as applicable in the context of their day-to-day jobs. Both of these issues were specifically probed in a post workshop evaluation questionnaire. The first question as to the overall satisfaction with the training structure was scored on a Likert scale and the second issue, the day-to-day applicability of TRIZ to their jobs on a 1-10 scale. The actual question on the evaluation was as follows: Rate the applicability of the information taught to your job. (1-10) ________ 1= none, 3 = limited, 5 = moderate, 7 = good, 10 = highly applicable

At the workshops, the instructor explained the various TRIZ techniques via lecture and then asked attendees to apply the techniques and share any insights that were relevant to their specific environment. Subsequently, the students were asked to utilize a specific TRIZ technique on their selected transportation problem. Teams of three to six class members analyzed a problem and presented their findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

The most successful teams in terms of generating truly novel ideas and solutions were teams that contained a broad cross section of the various transportation functions. The most enlightening aspect of the cross disciplined teams was that they abandoned traditional adversarial roles in favor of cooperative efforts to find “ideal”’ solutions by which all parties could live. Another surprise was the applicability of TRIZ for solving non-engineering problems. Concerns posed before the training that the methodology might be beyond the grasp of non-technical personnel and as such not usable were unfounded. The design of the workshops in essence provided the methodology by which the application of TRIZ techniques into a public transportation agency could be assessed.

Interestingly, as excellent problem solving ideas emerged from both ends of the technical spectrum, in the areas of engineering, administration, management, financial, environmental, information and communication systems, it became apparent that this success should be viewed as an investment product. As such it merits consideration for further TRIZ deployment within the Department. Specifically, it should target those individuals working in the field, where innovation is frequently born. It is believed that work in the field is where the anticipated returns on the investment will be both great and swift.

Class Example(s) of TRIZ Applied to a Transportation Problem

The TRIZ problem solving process is initiated by completing the Inventive Situation Questionnaire (ISQ). The purpose of filling out the ISQ is to organize the team’s knowledge about the problem. The ISQ also starts the team on thinking from a TRIZ perspective, by clearly defining the parameters of the problem, the resources available to solve the problem, any historical data on previous attempts to solve the problem, and the ideal solution.

After completing the ISQ, the teams proceeded to define their respective problems in terms of the inherent conflicts associated with any ideas they have or any known conventional solutions. After defining the conflict(s), the team searched the knowledge base for similar problems in order to find a list of Inventive Principles that have resolved that type of problem. The students then applied the analogy to their situation and evolved the solution to create a model of their solution.

The retention detention pond issue was one of the class examples. The team that thought of this idea completed the exercise in one hour. In fact all of the 16 problem solving teams managed to come up with a novel or new idea as TRIZ logic was applied to their technical, as well as non-technical problems.

Policy Implications for Research

Our approach to the Trailblazer TRIZ training stemmed from the fact that TRIZ concepts meet the required technical rigor for research. Further, the data collected are technically strong, and clear. The collaborative research effort began with the hypothesis that any individual of average intelligence could both comprehend and apply the TRIZ concepts to any inventive problem. The hypothesis was tested via the Trailblazer training, and the corresponding result, or proof of principle, reflect that TRIZ can be universally employed by a wide range of persons.

The overall average rating of the workshop was 4.1 (scale from 1 to 5 – with 1-not satisfied to 5-very satisfied). More importantly, the overall average score for applicability to job was 6.1 (scale from 1 to 10 with 1-none, or no applicability to 10-highly applicability).


The authors believe that the need for inventive thinking techniques as provided by TRIZ is clear, particularly in view of new demands placed on public entities to ensure quality without compromising the judicious use of resources. Applying TRIZ on a more global scale should be viewed as an investment product where the return over a period will prove swift and substantial. Further, the authors believe that this result may be more likely with deployment concentrated on Project Managers and other field personnel.

This research affirmed and documented that the formulation of TRIZ “Gurus”, or “Users Group” would provide the necessary motivation to begin to solve problems using existing resources, thus avoiding further complicating or stressing the current highway and transportation system. Ultimately, it is our belief that this would prove more efficacious and prudent in long range planning within public entities. The current and predicted future demands on entities will increasingly require transportation planning and project implementation to consider less conventional means of solving problems related to basic infrastructure and land use issues covering a wide range of diverse and complex areas which impact our standard of living. Below are specific recommendations for public agencies to begin to provide the means for “thinking outside the conventional box” and become more responsive to solving inherent contradictions within requests made from government.

1.To the extent possible, provide TRIZ training to a blend of individuals from both the technical and non-technical areas of a transportation agency, concentrating on those personnel working in the field;

2.Create TRIZ “Gurus”/”Users Group”

3.Ensure representatives include research staff and any university affiliates within the department to serve as the core group; these individuals would be in charge of system degradation prevention with the incorporation of TRIZ software currently available. In this sense, any TRIZ deployment must provide for system integrity and the necessary safeguards must be implemented to prevent any degradation;

4.Individuals selected should be directed by the research section within the transportation agency and should incorporate persons also from within the various districts, or field offices, and Materials Labs.

5.Individuals should be selected based on individual interest, on a voluntary basis, rather than as criterion of job selection; the number should be limited.


The authors thank Cabinet Secretary Pete K. Rahn of the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department for his support in this collaborative research effort, and his interest in facilitating the first ever application of TRIZ to a public transportation agency. Also, the authors thank the late Genrikh Altshuller and his family for providing the brilliance in TRIZ. Additionally, the authors thank both Gary Salton Ph. D., President Professional Communications, Inc. and the developer of Organizational Engineering and Mr. Zion Bar-El, President & CEO Ideation International Inc. for the permission to use the Inventive Situation Questionnaire.

Skrupskis & Ungvari


  1. Chandra, Mahesh “Total Quality Management in Management Development” Journal of Management Development 1993: vol. 12.

  2. New Mexico Highway and Transportation Department. Outsourcing – Cost/Benefit Analysis. January 1998.

  3. New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department. Facts and Figures,Where We Are, Where We Want to Be. January 1996.

  4. Altshuller, G.S., Creativity as an Exact Science, Gordon & Breach, New York.

  5. Ungvari, S.F., TRIZ Two Day Workshop, SPI, In., Brighton, MI, 1998.

  6. Salton, G.J., Organizational Engineering, Professional Communications Inc., Ann Arbor, MI, 1996.

List of Figures

Figure 1Technical Vs. Non-Technical OE Styles