Have you heard the buzz about TRIZ, the
Russian creative problem solving technique?
TRIZ (pronounced "trees") is a set of tools
and techniques that provide a different,
approach to solving problems. Through its
knowledge base of inventive
solutions, the discipline of TRIZ helps you
examine problems, reformulate them, and
then develop novel
Where did TRIZ come from?
Although relatively new to the United States,
TRIZ is based on decades of patent study,
begun in 1946, by Russian researcher G.S.
this investigation, Altshuller was convinced
creative problem-solving techniques that
relied solely on brainstorming were erratic,
unpredictable, and incomplete. Instead he
believed that there were fundamental
principles, accessible to anyone, that could
inventive problem solving.
Examples of some of these universal
principles, derived from the study of over
2 million patents, include:
* Segmentation, where an object is divided into
independent parts, such as a railroad train
and cars, resort timesharing arrangements, or
* Consolidation where objects are combined into
one part, such as a radio, CD player, and
tape recorder into a "boom box."
Altshuller's research led to the development
of TRIZ (the acronym
for the Russian "theory of inventive problem
solving.") As it has been further developed,
involves a switch in thinking about problem
solving as well as a set of tools and
techniques to add to the creativity of the
work has been
continued and refined in over 100 research
worldwide, in countries like Germany,
Israel, Sweden, Belarus, Russia and the
United States. Variations on TRIZ are now
numerous and include different interpretations
by students of Altshuller and their
followers. One popular
variation, described in the Harvard Business
Review article "Finding your Innovation Sweet
Spot" (March, 2003), is "SIT," or Systematic
Inventive Thinking. SIT facilitators refer
to themselves as the "grandchild of TRIZ"
because of the way they have simplified and
Given the many variations on TRIZ, there is a
variety of consultants,
trainers, publications, conferences, and
other resources available to
help you explore its many facets. I
encourage you to do so, as another set of
tools in your creativity toolbox!