COLLOQUIA - A TRYST WITH TRIZ
Mr. Madhu Ganesh
Date: 8 December, 2010
A TRYST WITH TRIZ
Mr. Madhu Ganesh introduced in the workshop about TRIZ: The theory of Inventive Problem Solving. Teoriya Resheniya Izobreatatelskikh Zadatch (TRIZ) is a collection of problem definition and solving tools and strategies.
Mr. Madhu began the talk by touching aspects of drivers of innovation. Technology, Business, Environmental changes, emergence of new standards and political factors are major among them. He talked about the Kano map, A new product must meet the latent needs of a customer. When a product meets only stated needs of a customer, the growth would be linear. A designer should understand that there are some things which even the customer is unaware of, which make him happy. He discussed briefly about attacking quality (attractive quality) versus a defensive quality strategy and how the former changes rules of the game.
He explained about the S-Shaped curves that products take during their life cycles, and how new products take off when an older one is in its decline phase. When a disruptive technology based product hits the market, only risk takers try them. When it matures, it finds more and more customers and by the time it reaches its peak, a new product would already be catering to the ï¿½new early adoptersï¿½. If the company at the peak does not notice the activity that is happening below, it would be thrown over by this small player who had begun to woo the risk takers. He cited the example of compressor market in this context. Compressors store power. If they constantly watch competitors who sell compressors, they are totally neglecting the real competition. Battery makers are a real threat to them. There is immense research going on in the battery domain. A breakthrough invention there could cause the downfall of compressors!
Mr. Madhu later went on to describe about types of innovation. An innovation could be extending an existing product line, using same distribution channels to do something different, using same materials and components but innovating in a different dimension or completely disruptive technologies.
Questions have always been prevalent. Is ideation systematic or random? Mr. Madhu urged us to think beyond ideation when it came to innovation. No firm can progress if the focus is plainly on the idea. This is where TRIZ comes in.
Genrich Altshuler in 1926 looked at major inventions of his time and looked for similar patterns among them. After years of research he concluded that all major inventions are based on what he called the 40 inventive principles. He put them in a 39x39 matrix, which allowed user to look at how a given variable would impact the other 38 ( as it happened in previous inventions) and also suggests the variables that could be changed to alleviate that problem. Altshuler classified inventive solutions into five major kinds.
- Standard solutions using well known methods
- Improvement solutions that cause improvement of existing systems
- Methods from other fields but inventions inside paradigm or solution from one area of technology
- Solution exists outside the boundary of technology and outside the paradigm/ creating new generation of systems
- Outside the boundary of contemporary sciences (new systems/major discovery)
- Segmentation could be used for a lot of things. The user will have to understand where and what has to be segmented
- How to frame a problem as a contradiction?
While using the Matrix, the user should be able to associate his parameter with the one among 39 parameters available, and choose the appropriate one that makes most sense! "TRIZ could be a very time consuming process", he cautioned.
PILLARS OF TRIZ
- Increase ideality
- Remove contradiction
- Structured problem solving
*Ideality = Benefits/(Costs+ Harm)
Mr. Madhu further used the example of a quadratic equation to help us understand how TRIZ worked. "For finding the solution to a quadratic expression, we can use either trial and error or we can resort to the expression ï¿½bï¿½vb2-4ac/2a to solve and arrive at the same results. TRIZ is like using the expression. It is more structured. "But it should be used on a large scale", he added. "Consider a car factory. Every day there are a few cars that fail the mileage test. If the design engineer is sent to fix each car everyday he would waste hours of his time. The manager could use TRIZ to identify the problem and make it better, so that engineer doesn't waste his time, just because he designed the car", he explained.
"TRIZ could be used for solving daily problems, but they should be at a macro level. If we are focussing on now and today, then TRIZ would be of little help. The manager must be able to magnify the problem, frame it in generic terms and then use TRIZ", he added.
Mr. Madhu then spoke of using Nesting (increasing volume, but retaining the area and helping in better packaging) and cited the examples of cubical water melons. "Someone understood that storing water melons was serious problem and just made them cubes. The volume remains the same, and area for storage is less!" He further explained how TRIZ could be used in active voice cancellation, to get rid of contradictions.
Mr. Madhu also spoke about firms which have adopted TRIZ over the years. Almost all Fortune 500 firms are said to be enrolled, but how far they have implemented is a matter of question. He however spoke about Lucent technologies that had used TRIZ at a very high level for long term planning.
While concluding the talk, he spoke briefly on self adjusting tennis rackets and hybrid cars that charge their batteries while they brake!
He ended the talk by highlighting the fact that TRIZ can only be perfected with time, and once perfected it is one of the best tools that one can use in innovation!
By Anitha Kaveri
Eg. Laser Doppler that is used to measure the velocity of bubbles.
A designer must be able to come up with designs that do not compromise one parameter for making another better. TRIZ helps a designer to achieve higher levels of ideality and resolve contradiction that crops up when one parameter is made better. Once a problem is framed as contradiction, a designer is ready to use TRIZ. However contradictions cannot be in terms of cost and time as these factors impact almost everything. These parameters are rarely used. But framing contradiction is one of the toughest steps and is often time consuming. Mr. Madhu elaborated contradictions using the example of microprocessors. All of us know that size and performance are the major variables. We try to reduce size and increase performance. The contradiction lies in the fact that beyond a certain point, we cannot miniaturize. Like Heisenberg's uncertainty principle says, beyond a certain size, the behaviour of a small particle cannot be predicted with any amount of certainty. Size of circuits is coming down drastically, and now particle sizes are in Angstroms. Further reduction will result in them losing their properties. Soldering of lead and tin may not stick together when they lose their properties and may fall off! Now increasing the performance, reducing the size and at the same time, retaining properties of metals is a contradiction. Mr. Madhu further explained contradiction with the help of Wireless technology as the example. In traditional communication, frequency was allotted to each pair of callers. This was analogue in nature and was mostly manual. Limited frequency was available for defence, personal use, radio stations etc. Number of people using them was increasing rapidly. This was the contradiction. Thus segmentation was done. Frequency was divided narrowly and given off. If divided further, interference would occur. Then digital technology came in, which allowed messaged to be sent as coded packets through phones. These coded packets were decoded by the receivers phone, and all happened in a very short span of time such that neither the sender not the receiver experienced any delay in communication. After a while it was noticed that signal to noise ratios were suffering. Slicing time and frequency was simply not enough. This was when CDMA came in. Each conversation was sent with a code breaker that decoded the message.
After making the concept of contradiction clear, Mr. Madhu highlighted the two important challenges which a TRIZ user would face