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Report from TRIZCON 2009 in California

Report from TRIZCON 2009 in California

| On 18, Mar 2009

Ellen Domb

TRIZCON 2009, the eleventh meeting of the Altshuller Institute, is going on this week in Canoga Park, California, where the primary sponsor for the event, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is located.  About 75 people are involved in a variety of learning and discussion events.  

Monday featured pre-conference tutorials by Zinovy Royzen, Sergei Ikovenko, and Isak Bukhman, and demonstrations by Invention Machine and Ideation International software companies.   Tuesday started with an opening address by Altshuller Institute president Mansour Ashtiani, who gave an overview of the challenges of moving from business focus on productivity to a focus on innovation, and the many ways that TRIZ can accelerate the innovation process.  Mansour led the group in a moment of silence to remember the many contributions of Wes Perusek, who died in February, and who had devoted many years to introducing TRIZ to children through schools and supplementary programs.  Mansour then thanked the members of the board and the committees, and gave the attendees a brief view of the work of the Altshuller Institute, and concluded with the inspiring message that TRIZ will bring hope to people who need innovation to create the future.  

The first keynote speaker was Herb Roberts from General Electric (and TRIZ Journal author and commentator!)  “TRIZ at GE:  Edison, Altshuller, and Imagination at Work” started with Herb’s note that GE is not noted for being willing to share their methods, but the benefits from TRIZ have come from other people sharing with them, so they are glad to reciprocate.   Herb highlighted how the TRIZ propagation  method in the research centers and in the energy business have differences, based on the needs of the employees and the kind of work they do, and that a wide variety of methods (personal, class, and project learning, for example) have all been successful.  He sees the future challenge as innovating in business models as well as in technology and technical processes, and embedding innovation in the company-wide metric systems.  The benefits of a small audience were immediately visible in a vigorous discussion of many of the points of Herb’s talk.

Kiho Sohn from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne introduced his colleague Jeff Jensen, Director of Business Development, to present the second keynote lecture, “Accelerating Innovation,”  which is a foundation of the 2018 project to add $4Billion(US) to the company—15% compounded growth, which is “unheard of” for an aerospace company.  Jeff’s major theme is “Innovation is converting ideas into revenue.”   He had many lessons for the TRIZCON group from P&W’s experiences, complementary to Herb’s talk.  He emphasized that the creative people need to understand the customer needs and the business needs (size of market, speed of deployment, future potential) at considerable depth, in addition to understanding the technical challenges.  Current research emphasizes developing collaboration processes and communication systems so that everyone is operating with appropriate information.  The benchmarking research was of considerable interest to the audience—companies as diverse as Procter & Gamble and the Mayo Clinic had common trends, such as executive leadership, and differences in implementation tactics (central vs. dispersed research, protected research environments, etc.)   Information systems, such as wikis, are emerging in usefulness for collaboration and communication, to make the innovation process faster and more focused.

Mansour Ashtiani chaired a large panel discussion—Sergei Ikovenko, Alla Zusman, Zinovy Royzen, Isak Bukhman, Noel Leon, Jim Todhunter, Leonid Chechurin (tomorrow’s keynote speaker, from the St. Petersburg State Polytechnical University) and I were asked to comment on the present global and local knowledge of TRIZ and adoption of TRIZ, driving forces, roadblocks, the role of TRIZ-related software, and suggestions for the Altshuller Institute’s role in advancing TRIZ.  
For the track sessions, I’ll report on the papers that I heard personally.  Of course, as in the past, we thank the Altshuller Institute and the authors for agreeing to let us publish a sample of the best papers in The TRIZ Journal!

Track 1 got an excellent start with “The Function Modeling method for New Product Development” by Young-Ju Kang (a TRIZ Journal author) from Hyundai, which has made great strides in TRIZ adoption and in application of TRIZ in areas as diverse as cost reduction, patent circumvention, system improvement, technology forecasting/new product development, and the personal level of improving engineers’ creativity.   Kang showed that the present modeling methods are based on the present system functions, and that a more comprehensive system is needed to encompass the needs of those who are creating the future of the system.   The function modeling system popularized in axiomatic design has proven very useful for TRIZ modeling as well.   Kang’s examples from injection molding, photography, and data storage were excellent illustrations of how his modification of the function model makes it easy to develop the definition of the TRIZ problem.  

Two excellent papers kicked off the afternoon session:  Noel Leon’s work using TRIZ to develop a Stirling engine powered car, and John Cooke and Darrell Mann’s paper showing two ways to solve the same problem (un-stacking aluminum sheets) using ARIZ and systematic innovation.   I hope that we’ll have both papers for the TJ soon, so that readers won’t suffer my problem of choosing!    Noel gave an extremely useful review of solar technology and means of storing solar heat to operate the Stirling and Stirling-Brayton engine.  The morphological matrix was used to explore families of options for the design approach, using direct solar energy to avoid all the problems of  fuel storage and fuel combustion.  

Sergei Ikovenko devoted his paper to the “Trend of Increasing Coordination.”  He included the history of the use of the trends in the development of TRIZ and the recent emergence of the trends from previous use as guiding concepts to the current use as direct problem solving heuristics.   The trend of increasing coordination is a branch of the trend tree, a sub-trend to the trend of increasing value, and the trend of s-curve evolution, and is superior to the trends of increasing controllability and the trend of increasing dynamicity (this is called the St. Petersburg model.) Sergei guided the audience through the arguments that a “survivable” system is the most economical system, which is the one that uses the fewest resources, which can do that under multiple circumstances if it is dynamic, which requires control.   Sergei presented the 4 sub-trends (coordination of shape, rhythm, materials, and actions) with a variety of examples and levels of detail for each.   One surprise to some in the audience was Sergei’s dual-direction approach—if the useful approach is (for example) point/line/surface/volume, then to remove a harmful effect try going from volume to surface, surface to line, etc., which he illustrated with the classical pizza box and fishing equipment examples.  

Jean-Marc LeLann from the University of Toulouse presented a variant on the use of the contradiction matrix, specifically tailored to problems with multiple contradictions.   A topical case study—simultaneously eliminating tars and ashes as byproducts of biomass fuel generation—illustrated the complexity of typical real problems.  Both the classical (Altshuller) matrix and Mann’s Matrix 2003 were used to explore the contradictions.  The principles were applied as in the single matrix, and in a segmented way, applying them at a different level of abstraction from the original presentation.  Both of these tactics dramatically increased the umber of “hits”—suggestions from the matrix that replicated the solution of historical innovative problems, or new solutions that were outside the previous research of the team.   We had some discussion of how the Toulouse group will validate this method.

Jim Belfiore’s presentation “Using TRIZ to Drive Basic Research” was a strong  conclusion to the day.  He introduced the cultural problems of the ways that research is done in different parts of the world, and the frequently contradictory problem of the expectations that are levied on the TRIZ students (Adult ADD?  Do in-depth analysis without spending any time, on situations where you have only superficial knowledge?)  I am a great admirer of Jim’s work, so I was somewhat distressed by his emphasis on the bad experiences that are a result of bad teaching, bad deployment, bad managements and mismatches between roles and responsibilities—but then he used this introduction to discuss the transition to ubiquitous information, and the accompanying sloppiness of much research.    Jim ended on a positive note with examples of improved research techniques based on TRIZ-themed contradiction thinking and systems thinking.

Day 1 concluded with a very sociable dinner.