A TRIZ Newbee's Report
Editor | On 28, Aug 2019
Hans-Gert Gräbe, Leipzig University, Germany
Three years ago, LIFIS started to advance a new focus Systematic Innovations. LIFIS – the Leibniz Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies – is a registered association of technical scientists mainly from the former GDR interested in the promotion of research activities.
The immediate occasion for opening this new focus was the desire to study more precisely the TRIZ heritage of the inventor schools in the GDR and to work it up. This is done in close cooperation with our LIFIS members Rainer Thiel and Dietmar Zobel. Rainer Thiel, one of the central figures of the GDR inventor school scene, will celebrate his 90th birthday next year.
Alexander Shinnikov as representative of the Saratov TRIZ school emphasizes in his interviews with Valeri Souchkov [S1], that TRIZ consists of different schools, that were founded in different places by close associates of G.S. Altshuller. At the pages of MA TRIZ [M1] also the tension are described between TRIZ and WOIR (the All-Union (now All-Russian) Organization of Inventors and Rationalizers). The GDR inventor schools have slightly different roots – here it was a first contact with WOIR in the 1960s [H-1], which let the Honourable Inventor of the GDR drew attention to Altshuller’s approaches, and the subsequent efforts by Gerd Willimczik and Katja and Rainer Thiel, to make available three important works by Altshuller [A1], [A2], [A3] in German translation. Essential theoretical contributions to the further development of TRIZ in the direction of TRIZ and Business like PROHeal (Hans-Jochen Rindfleisch and Rainer Thiel) as well as WOIS (Hansjürgen Linde) – see [G1] – emerged from the distress and needs already present in the 1980s as consequence of an increasingly complicated economic situation. Materials (in German), that were retrospectively collected in the early 1990s, had been made again accessible by LIFIS in recent years or are in preparation in the context of our WUMM project.
The WUMM Project
25 years later, these experiences and theoretical approaches play almost no role in the meanwhile rudimentary German TRIZ everyday life, which is essential limited to consulting. With a Leibniz conference in November 2016, LIFIS tried – on the essential initiative of the author of this text – to build a first bridge between these two German TRIZ communities. A special trademark of these revitalization attempts is the close connection to modern developments in philosophy, that during the last years rediscovered the Hegelian dialectic heritage for themselves. This research is especially done by Justus Schollmeyer, a young philosopher, in close contact with Rainer Thiel – also a philosopher by his academic background and both LIFIS members.
To pursue a stronger involvement of such approaches in academic teaching at the Leipzig University in the beginning of 2019 we set up the WUMM project to coordinate the activities of Sabine Lautenschläger (Institute for Resource Management), Thomas Neumuth (Medical Technology), Ken Kleemann (Philosophy) and the author (computer science) with other regional actors mainly working in the consulting business.
An essential element of this effort is to set up a visibility and participation infrastructure. In the sense of the Open Culture motto “Do useful for yourself and talk about it” we set up – following well-established principles – a github infrastructure consisting of
- an organization account wumm-project,
- various github repositories to accompany the individual sub-activities,
- information pages [W1] based on github pages as well as
- a series of dynamically generated web content that are rolled out at the web site http://wumm.uni-leipzig.de.
A TRIZ Newbee’s Experience Report
This may be sufficient to explain the reason why an established professor of Computer Science with 40 years of academic experience is outing himself as “TRIZ newbee” and as such immersed already half a year into the larger TRIZ world of today. Within the luggage there are first reports on the experiences of the GDR inventor schools, which I wrote down in two conference papers that were accepted at the TRIZ Summit 2019 in Minsk [G2] as well as the TRIZ Fest 2019 in Heilbronn [G1].
During that time I observed that the worldwide TRIZ community today has one of its main roots in the diaspora of Russian-speaking experts after the fall of the Iron Curtain at the early 1990s. Two more trends are worth to be mentioned:
- Concerted efforts in the East Asian region, especially in China with the establishment of the MEOMTI program to open up the cultural TRIZ heritage for their own economic development, as well as
- the efforts that exist especially in German-speaking countries, to establish a bridge between TRIZ and Design Thinking, a process which cannot surprise regarding the central role of the HPI Potsdam in the further development and propagation of Design Thinking.
From the very outset it was less clear for me the great importance of Russian language also at the international level of the TRIZ community. Even if the main exponents of the TRIZ scene with Russian as mother tongue speak and write fluently and publish in English, so it is at Valeri Souchkovs Facebook channel [S2] by no means self-evident, to participate in a centrally Russian-led communication with a verbal message in English.
That’s of course no fundamental problem in times of Google Translate or the automatic translation service on Facebook – beyond attention-economic effects – especially if the involved person reads Russian well enough, as do many of our older LIFIS members. On the other hand, it was a clear feeling at the TRIZ Summit in Minsk that Russian is the first language of communication in the scene, although bilingualism (Russian and English) was exemplary celebrated at the conference and the cost of a headphone offered simultaneous translation were not spared.
The WUMM Project Once More
As part of the WUMM Project, I started in my HGG blog [W2] to record some of the debates most interesting to me from the very volatile and difficult to be referenced social media in which they are led, and enriched this record with English translations as well as further comments.
Overall, we want the WUMM Project to evolve as an open community project in which relevant materials and metadata are available as open source and under open licenses (especially the Apache 2.0 license). More contributors are very welcome. The current state of the affairs such as our TRIZ Social Network (TSN) effort is documented in our Wiki [W1].
We also strive to raise funds from European programs for both the coordination of academic teaching activities (ERASMUS+) as well as for top research activities (HORIZON2020 and follow-up programs). You can find further information also on this topic in our wiki [W1].
- [A1] Altschuller G.S. Erfinden – (k)ein Problem. Berlin 1973. Original: Алгоритм изобретения. Moscow 1969
- [A2] Altschuller G.S., Seljuzki A.B. Flügel für Ikarus. Über die moderne Technik des Erfindens. Leipzig 1983. Original: Крылья для Икара. Moskau 1983.
- [A3] Altschuller G.S. Erfinden – Wege zur Lösung technischer Probleme. Berlin 1984. Original: Творчество как точная наука. Moskau 1979.
- [G1] Gräbe, H.-G. The Contribution to TRIZ by the Inventor Schools in the GDR. Accepted for the TRIZFest 2019 in Heilbronn.
- [G2] Gräbe, H.-G. Наследие Движения Школ Изобретателeй в ГДР и Развитиe ТРИЗ (The Heritage of the Inventor Schools Movement in the GDR and the Development of TRIZ). Proceedings of the TRIZ Summit 2019 in Minsk.
- [H1] Herrlich M. Die Geschichte der Erfinderschulen von ihren ersten Anfängen bis zu ihrem heutigen Fortbestehen in der Erfinderakademie (The history of inventor schools from their earliest beginnings to their present existence in the Inventors’ Academy). Material of the 23. LIFIS-Conference „Systematic Invention“, Lichtenwalde 2016. htp://leibniz-institut.de/Konferenzen/TRIZ-2016/Schollmeyer_Herrlich.pdf
- [M1] See https://matriz.org/about-matriz/about-founder/. “In 1974 the Central Council of the All-Union Society of Inventors and Innovators closed the Public Laboratory of Inventive Methodology because Altshuller disobeyed the order to discontinue establishing TRIZ schools throughout the country.”
- [S1] Four interviews with Valeri Souchkov taken by Alexander Schinnikov, see [S2].
- [S2] Valeri Souchkov’s Facebook channel at https://www.facebook.com/valeri.souchkov
- [W1] Github pages of the wumm project at https://wumm-project.github.io/
- [W2] HGG’s blog at https://wumm-project.github.io/HGG-Blog.html
This text can be reused under the terms of the CC-0 license.
About the author: He graduated in mathematics, is a staff member of the Computer Science Department of the Leipzig University since 1990 with main focus first on computer algebra and later on various aspects of software engineering, semantic web technologies and interdisciplinary aspects of modern technology. He is a member of LIFIS – the Leibniz Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, one of the founders of the Inspirata Leipzig and also involved with other aspects of STEM training of gifted children.