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If TRIZ is so Good Why Isn't Everyone Using it?

If TRIZ is so Good Why Isn’t Everyone Using it?

| On 18, May 2002

If TRIZ is so Good Why Isn’t Everyone Using it?

Dear Brian,

I read with interest your letter about the reasons why TRIZ isn’t as widely spread as it might be.

Some of your points are valid, especially around books but this is being helped by publications such as the TRIZ journal. One analogy I would like to make here is that you do not become a stress analyst by sitting down and reading a book by Timoshenko. You will have to spend a considerable amount of time in a class room learning the basics and practising with them on simple problems first before you are let loose on analysing structures.

Whilst TRIZ looks simple there are many years of development work gone into it and many people seem to forget this and try to run before they can walk.

I hope the following will help the TRIZ community understand why it is where it is and no further on.

Here at lford Imaging we have always tried to line up a number of problems in advance. This definitely helps keep our group going.

I like your idea of a problem scheme and I will certainly follow this up with other managers.

On your point of fashion fatigue I am not sure that this is true. Over the past number of years we have seen many initiatives coming down from above and companies have invested heavily. Many of these initiatives are about improving production, traceability and gaining control of the manufacturing process. From my experience TRIZ has not arrived like that. It has slowly emerged and been taken on by a few who see the benefits in the design office or laboratory and because of this there has not been the ground swell seen by these other approaches.

Another reason might be because companies are using TRIZ in the development stages and they do not want to publicise their methods for developing new products, people may not be keen on telling others about the problems they have they would rather discuss the successes.

The other reason for this is largely due to the Internet. For me if it were not for a chance meeting with Graham Rawlinson at an exhibition I would probably still be none the wiser. Much of my reading about TRIZ has come from the Internet and for most people this is done in isolation.

From this develops a champion, if they are so inclined or otherwise they will keep it close to their chest and believe that they have a very powerful tool that they do not want to tell anyone else about. Depending on how good this person is at publicising this throughout their company will depend on whether it is adopted, developed and used on a regular basis. Only recently have large seminars on the topic of TRIZ been organised and the organisations who send out the mail shots will reach an audience of thousands not just the few who the existing TRIZ community have managed to get into contact.

When speaking to our TRIZ group it becomes very clear that too many people spend their time fire fighting and to integrate TRIZ into everyday work becomes more difficult.

I have been very lucky here at Ilford Imaging because although there has not been a great deal of money to work with I have been able to work with a group on a very regular basis. In doing this the knowledge that the methodology exists begins to filter through into the rest of the organisation. We still come up against people who know about TRIZ but don’t really trust it and they will only come to us as a last resort. They are always surprised at what we can do even after only a few sessions.

Without a doubt there is a lot to learn in the TRIZ method and it cannot all be learnt in a two day course. Even after four years here at Mobberley we are looking at how to use the tools on a very regular basis and it is only by taking this drip feed approach will you become confident in their use.

Another stumbling block I have seen on a number of occasions is when to use what tool. This is a real issue when first attempting to solve problems and until would be practitioners can break through this barrier they will struggle.

John Terninko’s book Step By Step TRIZ makes a very useful point that often doing a function analysis will reveal the solution and if the solution is a level one solution and it solves your problem that does not matter. The fact that you have started a thought process that you would not normally have considered is going in the right direction. This may not be the purest approach but most of us do not have the luxury of hours and hours to analyse the system down to minute detail and there comes a point when we have to say enough is enough.

Your suggestion that a person returning from a course would not have enough problems to work on is interesting. The group here at Ilford Imaging have worked on problems posed in Altshuller’s books and others as well as our own problems. We have also worked on Logic, Number and reasoning problems to try and develop our skill at thinking in different ways.

At first the newly trained practitioner will still struggle to ask the right questions to find out what the actual problem is. Contradictions are easy to talk about but it takes practice to route them out of every day problems.

This is where having a multi-disciplinary team helps a lot. If you cannot see the wood for the trees a different set of eyes is always helpful.

Until TRIZ becomes management lead it will not get completely integrated as other methodologies have. However, we must be careful here. There are a great many companies who have invested in these approaches and I am not convinced that they have all taken on board the new techniques to the level we are made to believe they have.

Those people who have invested many hours of effort will for the foreseeable future have to continue working away to publicise their successes and when they start to save money the their managers and accountants will begin to take note.

I don’t necessarily believe that we should restrict this method to engineers and it doesn’t always make good engineers great. What it does do is make people better thinkers at the concept stage because they will be able to see the contradictions before the design has left the drawing board or laboratory.

At this stage you will not have to answer the question did you use TRIZ. Once it is part of your thinking process everything you do will be tainted with TRIZ whether you realise it or not.

Anyone who sets out to learn TRIZ starts on a long journey and you can begin to reap the benefits of the method soon after starting but your best solutions will take more time.

However, you must not shy away from trying your techniques because without that practice you will not be able to think the unthinkable.

Brian, I hope this goes someway to helping you answer your question.

The Ilford Imaging TRIZ Group
Ian F Mitchell
Graham Buttle
Jackie Doggett
Steven Jones
Bill Long
Paul Behan
Iain Whitlam

From: Toru Nakagawa,

Dear Mr. Brian Campbell,

CC: Dr. Ellen Domb, Editor of The TRIZ Journal,

I read your article “If TRIZ is such a good idea, why isn’t everyone using it?” (April 2002 TRIZ Journal) with much interest, because I had the same question in my mind for many years.

To answer The question, I presented a paper in ETRIA Conference last November with the title of “Learning and Applying the Essence of TRIZ with Easier USIT Procedure”. The paper is posted in my Web site “TRIZ Home Page in Japan” in English:

Let me summarize some of the points in my paper:

(1) Penetration of TRIZ is slow not because TRIZ is poor, but rather because TRIZ is so rich.

(2) Large body of handbook-type knowledge such as 40 Inventive Principles, 76 Inventive Standards, Trends of Evolution, Contradiction Matrix, Effects database, etc. is presented to TRIZ students as basic knowledge, and often overwhelms the students.

(3) TRIZ also contains a large number of methods for solving problems, such as Su-Field model, multi-screen method, Contradiction Matrix method, modeling with Smart Little People, ARIZ, etc.

They are voluminous and some of them are partly redundant among others.

(4) The essence of TRIZ (behind such knowledge-bases and problem solving methods) is seldom stated/taught clearly. Thus students feel difficulties in understanding the TRIZ philosophy and mastering TRIZ way of thinking in problem solving.

(5) For overcoming these situations, we should present the essence of TRIZ in a clearer way. See Nakagawa’s “Essence of TRIZ in 50 Words” in the paper (also reposted in The TRIZ Journal:

(6) We should also reorganize the TRIZ way of problem solving into a much simpler procedure for industrial applications. I believe this was in fact achieved by USIT (“Unified Structured Inventive Thinking”), which was developed by Ed Sickafus in 1995 at Ford. USIT is explained in my ETRIA paper, and in full detail in my paper to be presented at the coming TRIZCON2002.

(7) Essence of TRIZ philosophy and simplified TRIZ/USIT procedure should be taught and applied to real problems, not in a hurrying-forcing strategy but in “Slow-but-Steady Strategy”.

Hoping that many more people understand the essence of TRIZ and use TRIZ in their real problem solving.

Best wishes,
Toru Nakagawa

Toru Nakagawa, Dr. Professor, Faculty of Informatics, Osaka Gakuin University
2-36-1 Kishibe-Minami, Suita-shi, Osaka 564-8511, Japan
Phone: +81-6-6381-8434 (Ex. 5056) FAX: +81-6-6382-4363
“TRIZ Home Page in Japan”

Hello Ellen,

I just read the interesting article “If TRIZ is such a good idea” and I recognised several of the issues posted. Apperantly there’s been a lively discussion on it somewhere (where?) but perhaps another point of view would be interested. I’m not sure if you’re the proper person to send this to, or if I had better send it elsewhere. Let me know if it’s proper to send it elsewhere.

Use these lyrics as you see fit,

Rick van Rein,

As a (rather creative) engineer, I’ve been lurking around the TRIZ community for a few years, with peaks of time investment every now and then. Even after reading a few books and quite a few articles in triz-journal, I still consider myself a beginner in TRIZ. `Why is that?’ you may wonder.

As I see it, there’s no training path of any kind. Sure, the 40 principles are straight enough, I’ve even implemented them on; but I cannot seem to get beyond that. The S-field analysis for example, has a rather strong appeal to me, but even though I’ve searched for introductions for a few years, I’ve only been able to find articles that were less than self-explanatory. I looked for such articles on, and articles published there can be perfectly useful if they summarise things already known, but not to the newcomer. That’s not an attack on those articles, merely a comment that no explicit introductions seem available. In spite the clear desire to share knowledge that lives in the community.

What I would need, would be a clear learning path, perhaps an independent one for different TRIZ tools. Also, an overview of available tools would be rather helpful, as well as an overview of books, and how they should be considered in a learning trajectory. In other words, I need what educational people call a curriculum.

I happen to be someone who learns well from reading and fiddling around with things myself, but I am well aware that others have a learning preference targeted at practice. Those people would be greatly helped with workshops and courses. And if it is up to me, those need not be formal at all. I would enjoy spending an evening a week at a local `TRIZ community gathering’ where people of varying levels of experience come together and try to crack some problem. Not necessarily for the solution, but for the sheer fun, as well as to learn to use TRIZ. When learning is like play (and need not be planned with marketing etc) it works best. I only wonder if TRIZ has sufficient touch base in the world to make that happen. Those who live near Enschede/Netherlands are quite welcome to contact me!

Dear Rick van Rein:

The discussion that got us the comments on “IF TRIZ is so good” was on the e-mail discussion group. Go to, use their search engine to find TRIZ, and join the discussion group. You will get occasional e-mails, and the opportunity to answer the whole group, or the person who posted it.

Yes, I’m the right person to send your comment to. May I publish it (along with some others–so far I have one comment from a group of several people in the UK) in our May issue?

In addition, as editor of The TRIZ Journal and a person who does seminars and consulting in TRIZ as a business, I agree with you. The small comfort I can offer is to that it is better now than it was 8 years ago, when there was one (really badly translated) book available in English, one in German, so if you didn’t read Russian, you were out of luck!!

I am thinking about doing a beginners’ section for The TRIZ Journal, with a curriculum and a set of tutorial articles. Your comment will help persuade me to stop talking about doing it, and actually do it.

There are several TRIZ discussion groups that I know about–one in Minneapolis, MN, USA, and one in the Midlands, in the UK, and one in Los Angeles, USA. Perhaps your comment will starte one in NL!

Re Su-Field analysis–I prefer functional analysis, and almost never use Su-Field analysis, unless the client specifically wants to learn classical TRIZ. See Zinovy Royzen’s article on TOP in Sept. 99 TRIZ Journal and John Terninko’s in Feb. 2000. For Functional Analysis, see any systems engineering textbook.

Hope this helps! And please let me know if I can publish your letter.

Ellen Domb,

Ellen Domb
PQR Group, 190 N. Mountain Ave., Upland CA 91786 USA
+1(909)949-0857 FAX +1(909)949-2986 or