Book Review: TRIZ: The Right Solution at the Right Time
Editor | On 17, May 1999
Title: TRIZ: The Right Solution at the Right Time: A Guide to Innovative Problem Solving
Author: Yuri Salamatov, edited and adapted by Valeri Souchkov, translated by Maria Strogaia and Sergei Yakovlev. Technical editor Michael Slocum.
Publisher: Insytec B.V., The Netherlands. http://www.insytec.com
Cost: US$60 Pages: 250 Cover: paper
Available from: Available from our Products & Services page, and from the publisher.
Yuri Salamatov’s TRIZ: The Right Solution at the Right Time: A Guide to Innovative Problem Solving is an excellent addition to the growing literature of TRIZ in English. It is a multi-purpose book—it could be used as a university textbook, as a self-study textbook for those with no previous exposure to TRIZ, or as advanced study for those who have had some introductory exposure to TRIZ and want to learn more.
Dr. Salamatov was a colleague of Genrich Altshuller’s and has written other TRIZ books and generated over 50 inventions in the last 20 years. He and his collaborators have produced a remarkably easy-to-read book, free of most of the problems of translations, and aimed at the general reader, including specialists in the arts and humanities, as well as those in engineering and product development. The forward includes his instructions to the reader on how to use the book to become a “keen and active participant in the learning process.”
The problems and examples invite reader participation. There are over 100 problems, most with at least one answer at the back of the book, and there are dozens of examples throughout the text. Frequently, Salamatov provides the answers to the examples several pages later, or even several chapters later, to give the reader time to work with the example and to struggle with the concept being demonstrated, rather than giving the answer immediately. This technique is very effective, and the examples cover a very wide range of technological subjects and other subjects, including the fine arts. For example:
An artist wanted to show that his patron was a cruel, intimidating tyrant, but did not want to lose his commission (or his life!)
An architect wanted to express his spirit and optimize the function of a building using straight lines, but his client wanted curved lines that would express local culture.
These are quite different from the usual TRIZ examples using machines and mechanisms!
Salamatov’s historical examples cover a wide variety of countries, technical disciplines, and methods of solutions. I would encourage all readers to study the historical sections of this book, since Salamatov uses the examples to show the precursors to TRIZ, and the ways that TRIZ-style thinking was used, or could have been used. His stories of Edison, Archimedes, Goodyear, Eastman, Semmelweiss, and Michelangelo are excellent teaching tools as well as being fascinating stories.
The order of presentation of the technical topics of TRIZ is different in TRIZ: The Right Solution at the Right Time: A Guide to Innovative Problem Solving from that used in most other books. For example, Chapter 4 includes physical contradictions, the 5 levels of invention, and the “laws” of system definition, and the technique of the STC (size, time, cost) operator. Chapter 5 starts with the “law of energy conductivity” and includes the methods of fantasy/science fiction and the initial introduction to ARIZ. This combination of subjects does not produce the chaos that such a list suggests. Rather, it guides the reader very subtly from one level of understanding to the next, so the reader is ready for the more complex subjects when they arise naturally in the solution of more complex problems. Thus, when the concept of ideality and the ideal final result are introduced in Chapter 7, the reader is able to apply the Many Miniature Dwarfs method (introduced in Chapter 6) to achieving ideality.
This is a demonstration of creative thinking in the way to organize a book!
Salamatov does use the conventions of other TRIZ books regarding patents. Many examples are illustrated using patents, and the country, number, and date are usually given for those who want more information, but there is no information on whether or not the device described in the patent was ever built, used, or was successful in application. This question is frequently asked by TRIZ students, and has not been addressed in any of the texts that we have reviewed.
The brilliance of this book is due in part to the translators’ and editor’s efforts. They have taken a Russian best-seller and created an English book that is more than a textbook or reference book. The language problems are minor (“or” and “of” are frequently, mysteriously interchanged) and do not interfere with understanding the didactic material or the examples. With Dr. Salamatov, they have created a book that is easy to read, and easy to learn from, and useful at many different levels of TRIZ education.