The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving – TRIZ in short – is based on an extensive patent research and its findings of “success patterns” in human inventions.
A quintessence of TRIZ is the bypass of the mighty idea barrier. Sometimes, the direct “thinking” route to your solution is blocked. By what you know, by what you don’t know… and that can lead to so-so solutions. Not novel, elegant, innovative ones.
TRIZ encourages you to look at your problem from a more objective perspective, and it even suggests solutions, based on existing information. Like the 40 Inventive Principles, a kind of “pattern excerpt” based on how humans met technical challenges successfully.
These principles are the core of my » Biognosis TRIZ Set. That way, my set enables you to make use of two knowledge sources – patent databases and biology.
In TRIZ, these principles were combined to form a problem solving matrix. As a rule, if you optimise one aspect of your solution another aspect loses out. Let’s say you want to make something more powerful. Normally, you will need more material to do so.
BUT … try the suggested principle “Asymmetry” and ask yourself: Do I really need to make every part equally powerful? Can I save material that way? By being … asymmetrical?
Male fiddler crabs say yes. One powerful claw is enough.
This TRIZ Matrix offers support in looking at such a challenge differently, proposed solutions included. The proposed solution will need your creative “translation” – like what asymmetry might mean in your case. But the principle itself has already proven to be helpful, in many, many inventions.
And the fine thing about the more abstract principle names being – technology changes. What is possible in terms of asymmetry may change. Like … think 3D printing. Makes completely different forms feasible. Therefore, the abstract naming of the principles – quite a smart move if I may say so.
That’s part of the method in general. If you define a function, use e. g. “move” instead of “pump”. Because to pump implies the usage of … well, a pump. But that may not be the best solution to your problem! To move is more abstract, and leaves more room for ideas.
Biognosis Tools – A translation approach
TRIZ is a method, offering different tools. You get a step-by-step guide for looking at a problem and finding solutions. For technical mindsets, that’s very agreeable. To support the work and make it easier to understand the solution suggestions, best practise examples are often used. To compare, explain and inspire.
Nature offers such best practises. There are lots of solution archetypes for technology and product design, but also for services and process design. It is like a biological solution catalogue – but one that needs translation, too. The catalogue was created by biologists for biology, not for electrical or mechanical engineering, information technology, industrial design or quality management.
That is why part of biomimicry are translation services.
And that is what the Biognosis Toolbox is about, too. It is a soft translation tool. For example, the autotomy ability of a lizard is described as predetermined breaking point. Makes it easier to understand for engineers, and build upon.
Not only a method with tools, but a philosophy.
Another aspect I like – TRIZ is not only a method, offering different tools based on human ingenuity, but also a philosophy of sorts. You will find different ways to describe the key statements – I like to use these five pillars.
Contradictions – really good solutions come without bad compromises. TRIZ helps you to identify the main conflicts and resolve them elegantly. #breakthrough. ✔️
Ideality – all systems strive for perfection. They evolve. TRIZ supports a conscious usage of this process. #evolution. ✔️
Imagination – we tend to focus on the constraints and… give up. Stick with the run-of-the-mill solution. A creative problem-solving method counteracts this inertia effect. #innovation. ✔️
Functionality – there is always the question how it works, why it works, what’s needed that it works and whether it works the way you want it to! TRIZ offers very nice analytical and proposing tools here. #functionaldesign. ✔️
Resources – for me, this one is the best overlap with learning from nature. Because everything is a resource! TRIZ offers tools to analyse systems and identify resources. #systemthinking ✔️
Well. These key messages are a main reason why I like TRIZ. Especially combined with biomimicry. Used adequately, it helps to create SEED, sustainable ecological economic design – that’s why this combination became my fav creative problem-solving celebrity couple. TRIZ being the Johnny Cash to the biomimicry June Carter 😉
Closing, a quick tip
TRIZ is “open source”. You will find many articles and tutorials online. However, if you want to dig deeper, it is recommendable to work with a trainer first. Some nuances are a bit hard to get without the input of an experienced TRIZ user. And some tools may seem outright weird! With help, it’s easier to catch on.