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Number of Experts Needed

Number of Experts Needed

| On 01, Jan 2010

Message: 282
Posted by: Sandra
Posted on: Thursday, 22nd February 2007

I'm looking at approaching our company with an innovation plan – suggesting that we implement systematic innovation policies. I've been trying to find out if there are a partiuclar number of people that we should have within the company as 'experts' in these innovation methods (TRIZ, TILMAG, HRP, Brainstorming). Is one for each acceptable? One person who knows them all? Does anyone have any experience with this? We're a manufacturing company with 10,000 employees. Thank you fo ryour help.

Message: 283
Posted by: Valeri Souchkov
Posted on: Thursday, 22nd February 2007


It all depends on how seriously your company treats innovation, to what degree these people will be involved to innovation activities and at what scale. To start with, one person can hardly be an expert in all methods. Typically for a company of your size it would be a cross-functional team of 3-5 experts who would be aligned with a general innovation strategy of your enterprise. The team members should be capable of assisting/facilitating innovative projects and performing in-company trainings. To ensure company-wide succees, the team should not only be limited to expertise in technological applications of these methods, but also understand innovation cycles, strategic business issues to link business and technological innovation, have organizational skills, and participate in developing and implementing your company's vision.

Message: 285
Posted by: Ellen Domb
Posted on: Friday, 23rd February 2007

Hi, Sandra:   My experience (as a TRIZ and TQM teacher and consultant)  has been that the best way to start is NOT with a plan that spells out how many people need what kind of training, etc.   It is better to start with a “pilot project” that creates some real benefits for the company, then the demand for more people knowing more methods and applying them for both internal (process) and external (products and services) innovation will grow.   Usually the pilot project is a training class for 15 people or so, doing 7-8 projects, but other consultants have other methods–sometimes only 1 project witht he whole class working on it.  

There are some numbers for advanced TRIZ vs. basic TRIZ–I have been comparing notes with consultants around the world and we very consistently find that in large organizations, after several years, 3% of the people go into advanced TRIZ training, reaching the consultant or expert level.  I have been surprised it isn't higher, but the reaction I get is that basic TRIZ is very useful, and people are very busy, so they don't need to become advanced level users!  

Hope this helps.


Message: 297
Posted by: Suresh
Posted on: Tuesday, 27th February 2007

Hello Sandra,

“If your idea is nor crazy enough I am not interested in listening”. This should be the attitude regarding innovation. Normally the so called experts can extrapolate only a little further from now. So don't bank too much on experts, let alone the numbers. Some have the ability to catch an outstanding idea. Catch them regardles of their level and put them together. They have to have a overall idea of what the company produces and nothing more. For an innovation to be really worth atleast two experts must say ” this won't work”.

Does this help you?

Dr. M.S. Suresh

Message: 330
Posted by: Prakasan K
Posted on: Tuesday, 6th March 2007

Let me emphasize what Ellen mentioned about this from my own experience. But, also make sure you have support from senior management with an “experiment” attitude.

Message: 335
Posted by: Priyavrat Thareja
Posted on: Wednesday, 7th March 2007

I must agree to disgree. Larger the number of guy's who call bye to your idea, More is the worth in the new idea you Buy!

I have in my innovative applications always proved a final Say, and the strength of the successes have always been proportional to the magnitudes of Why's?

So! never feel Shy to intently listen any Guy who shows you a new Ray ( of Innovative stimulus to Try 😉


Message: 337
Posted by: Sandra
Posted on: Wednesday, 7th March 2007

Valeri, Thank you for your response. The 3-5 experts you wrote about – should they all be external consultants? Or is it a mix of experts and people inside the company who would comprise the team? I assume it's the latter. But would those company people then just need to be aware of the company's needs and abilities without specific innovation training? Because the experts could guide them? I know these questions are very simple, but I appreciate your help. Sandra

Message: 338
Posted by: Sandra
Posted on: Wednesday, 7th March 2007

Dr. Suresh, I'm not sure I really understand. You don't think there's a place for experts at all? Even initially to start things going? We're not doing any structure innovation right now. How can we start if we don't bring in someone who can point us in the right direction? I apologize for asking “dumb” questions. This is all new to me. Sandra

Message: 339
Posted by: Sandra
Posted on: Wednesday, 7th March 2007

Thank you, Ellen. I had not considered such a program, but will now. I too find those numbers interesting. I would think that if Basic TRIZ provides such positive results that the results that could be achieved with advanced TRIZ would be all the more exciting. Sandra

Message: 340
Posted by: Valeri Souchkov
Posted on: Wednesday, 7th March 2007

Hi Sandra, you are welcome. In my opinion, no one can possess expertise in every aspect of innovation since innovation is overly complex and integral set of activities which include many different disciplines, culture, organization, psychology, methods, techniques… And every organization is different from another, therefore successful patterns from one case might not be applicable to another case. Therefore bringing an outside expert can help to solve a particular task, deal with some specific strategic issues, train and set up trainings, but a company can't rely on outside expertise only if it wants to become innovative. 

If a company wants to be innovative in the “flat world” and succeed, it should have at least three layers which are responsible for innovation:

  • Management has to understand and support innovation, and allow innovation culture to be spread and grow across organization.
  • Employees who are motivated to innovate.
  • In-company “Core Innovation Team” which acts as a bridge between management and employees; Innovation Competence and Excellence Center; Training and knowledge management unit. 

Therefore, the latter should be an in-company group of, better to say, specialists rather than “experts”, who form “an engine” of innovation. These people should know and understand needs of both the company and its customers. But the engine alone is not a car yet. This goup should interact with the outside world as well: hire subject-matter experts, build networks, be involved to what we call today “open innovation”, build in-company innovation culture, and so forth. And certainly, they will need help from outside expertise – and not once – amount of outside knowledge grows immensely fast, and learning becomes permament today.

If you would like to read more about my vision, there is a paper which I presented in 2005 at the European Summit for Future, in which I attempted to summarize my experience and vision of an “organizational infrastructure” for innovation. (I hope such references are allowed in this forum?).

Best wishes,