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Book Review: Tools of Classical TRIZ

| On 17, Apr 1999

Reviewed by Ellen Domb
Title: Tools of Classical TRIZ
Author: Ideation International Inc.
Publisher: Ideation International Inc.
Price: $75. 265 pages. Paperback.
ISBN: none
Order from: Products and Services page of The TRIZ Journal, or directly from the publisher.

This outstanding book is a modification and translation of Searching for New Ideas: From Insight to Methodology: The Theory and Practice of Inventive Problem Solving by G. Altshuller, B. Zlotin, A. Zusman, and V. Philatov, originally published in 1989 by Kartya Moldovenyaska Publishing House, Kishniev. No author is listed, since it is a collaboration of many of the staff of Ideation International. A portion of the price of each book will be donated to the late Mr. Altshuller’s family.

The Tools of Classical TRIZ will be a welcome addition to the library of English-speaking students of TRIZ. It is an excellent translation, using terms that will be understandable to anyone, without requiring an advanced technical education.

The chapter on ARIZ-85 combined with the chapters on Substance-Field Analysis and the chapter on System of Standard Solutions (sometimes known as the 76 Standard Solutions) constitute a curriculum to take the student of TRIZ well beyond the beginner level. Although substance-field analysis has been widely published, this is the first time, to my knowledge, that the 76 standard solutions and the ARIZ-85 framework have appeared anywhere in English.

Each of the steps of ARIZ is explained, and examples are provided for most steps. Altshuller’s problem of protecting a radio telescope from lightning without interfering with the operation of the telescope, introduced in Creativity as an Exact Science, is used as an example throughout the ARIZ section, with very careful explanations of all the technical issues. Illustrations or diagrams would be helpful, but in most cases the explanations are good enough that the reader can understand the explanations without them. Many sections also have individual examples to explain specific points or to demonstrate the use of a specific step, rather than to show the whole flow of ARIZ.

To work with ARIZ step-by-step from this book will require careful reading. The thoroughness of the explanations has added a layer of complexity that could confuse a reader who tries to rush. For example, the section on Part 4 “Mobilizing and Utilizing Substance-Field Resources” of ARIZ opens with a list of the 7 sections of part 4, a note relating part 4 to parts 2.3 and 3.3 through 3.5, note 30 which explains that rules 4-7 apply to part 4, a list of rules 4-7, and then the explanation of part 4.1, “Simulation with smart little creatures.”

The section on Patterns of Technological Innovation is a welcome addition to the available resources in print, but a limited one. Until now, most of this information had been available only to those who had the “Golden Age of TRIZ” software. This is a short chapter, with a brief listing of the 8 patterns of evolution, and approximately 230 lines of evolution, without explanation of each of the lines, and without examples. To illustrate, pattern 7 is “Evolution toward Micro-Levels and Increased Use of Fields” and the line of segmentation is described by a list of stages:

  • Solid, continuous object
  • Object with partial internal barriers
  • Object with complete barriers
  • Object with partial separation of compartments
  • Object with programmed links between parts
  • Object with zero links between parts

Without examples, it is not clear how links and barriers differ, and why “zero links” is a higher stage than programmed links.

There is a brief but very clear description of the use of the Contradiction Matrix, the Matrix itself, and a listing of the 40 Inventive Principles, with examples drawn from a variety of resources – everyday examples such as disposable diapers, the computer mouse, and bubble packing material are used as well as some of the technical examples from mining, metallurgy, and ship design that appear in other TRIZ references.

The separation principles for resolving physical contradictions are presented in a very short section, with very short examples. Expansion of these 2 chapters would be a welcome improvement for a future edition

At first glance, the reader might decide that the “Index of Physical Effects” section is only of historical interest, since there are now many search tools available to anyone who wants to look for new scientific effects to resolve an inventive problem. I urge you not to skip this section: it has an excellent method of organizing the and indexing the effects by the function that they perform, not by the science from which they are derived. Using this functional organization will improve your search for new effects, regardless of what search engine you use.

I recommend Tools of Classical TRIZ for all. It will be a great help to English-speaking teachers and students of TRIZ. It certainly would have helped me if it had been available earlier, as I struggled to learn TRIZ through poor translations of a variety of materials! If you are using one of the “post-classical” TRIZ methods, Tools of Classical TRIZ will help you understand the origins of the methods and use them more effectively. I thank the authors of the original book and the authors and translators of this modification for making these resources available to all of us.