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How to Bring TRIZ into Your Organization

| On 05, Oct 1997

Ellen Domb, Ph.D. and James Kowalick, Ph.D., PE

The TRIZ Institute

190 N. Mountain Ave., Upland, CA 91786 USA

(909)949-0857 FAX (909)949-2968 e-mail: editor@triz-journal.com

TRIZ will give your organization the capability for breakthrough solutions to difficult technical problems. TRIZ radically enhances the quality and quantity of idea-generation. People who regard themselves as “uncreative” report a 12x increase in idea generation, and people regarded as creative “superstars” report a 3x increase in idea generation. (Ref.1)

Reading this paragraph, the technical professionals have one of two reactions:

  1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Just one more piece of hype. Management training “flavor of the month.”
  2. Great! Let’s get it in here and everybody will start using it immediately.

Participants in this conference don’t have to be offered any more information on reaction “1”-you now have your own experience generating quantities of new ideas, and seeing that breakthrough – quality ideas are possible in a field that had already been thoroughly explored. But now you need to take TRIZ back to your companies, to get the benefit of solving your own problems, in your own environment, where you can develop these new ideas for competitive advantage -to patent, to set new standards, or to get proprietary advantage from being first to market with new concepts, or all three ways.

The primary obstacles to company-wide adoption of TRIZ are human, not technical:

  • Time: People are too busy “fighting fires” to learn new methods of fire prevention
  • Suspicion: Other “new methods” have over-promised productivity improvement, customer satisfaction, faster time to market, higher ROI or EVA, etc.
  • Traditional methods of project management: If the success of a project is measured by traditional milestones, and the new process doesn’t match those milestones, there will be great pressure to work within the existing system.
  • The NIH syndrome. NIH means “not invented here” and can have double meaning for TRIZ-both “not invented in the organization” and “not invented in this country.” A sub-category of NIH is “Well, it may work for so-and-so, but it won’t work for us.” Our problems are different/high tech/not in their data base/controlled by regulators, etc.

The flow chart in Fig. 1 describes a method of introducing TRIZ into organizations that overcomes these obstacles. This method uses no “tricks” of cultural change or subtleties of organizational dynamics. It gets the technical professionals and technical managers in engineering, production, distribution, and service to experience TRIZ immediately, and helps them get breakthrough results on their own problems immediately.

Figure 1. Flow chart for TRIZ implementation.

Project consulting (the “External branch marked Image not available right now.) can also be done without initial training, if the goal is to get immediate technical results.

The effect of these immediate increases in creativity is that the obstacles labeled “suspicion” and “NIH” are removed, and the organization then uses its own resources (and its enhanced creativity) to reallocate the time of key people. In the early stages of TRIZ implementation, having a lot of new ideas is not always seen as a benefit, since the organization may lack the resources to follow up on all of them. (Ref.2)

The rationale for the process represented by the flow chart will be clear if each step is analyzed in terms of its direct results-new ideas, new concepts, creativity improvements-and its organizational change results.

Step 1 is the organization’s decision that increased innovation is needed. Most commonly this comes from competitive pressure, although occasionally it comes from regulatory requirements. One or more organization managers are selected to be the TRIZ “champions” to orchestrate the introduction and institutionalization of TRIZ.

Step 2 is the selection of one or more pilot projects for TRIZ introduction. The competitive or regulatory issues, or the organization’s problem identification and corrective action selection system usually identify the candidate problems, and the “champion” works with the consultant to select those problems which will have the best combination of high-value payoff and usefulness as future teaching cases. These projects or problems are used as the case studies for an introductory experiential class.

The class has multiple benefits:

  • Concepts for inventive solutions are generated for the selected projects or problems
  • The participants themselves generate the results
  • The participants learn to sort the results and get immediate and long-term benefits.
  • The participants learn the TRIZ methodology (at the introductory level) well enough to apply it themselves

Step 3 is implementation of the results of the class. According to the needs of the organization, this can be done as a joint effort or by the organization itself. The results generated are solutions to the problems of implementation of the concepts generated in Step 2, so this is a very visible, valuable reinforcement of the classroom work in Step 2, with results that have immediate payoff.

After the successes in Steps 2 and 3, the TRIZ “champion” and the organization’s leadership pick one of 2 paths. The Internal path produces a full team of internal TRIZ practitioners, who replace the external instructors and consultants as their skills increase. The External path uses consultants to coach each team as each project is identified. Hybrid approaches have also been used successfully, in which the External path is followed for quick results, while the Internal path is followed for development of future continuity. The External path is also frequently used for strategic planning, for applications of TRIZ to technology forecasting for the entire industry and for product platforms, while the Internal path is proceeding. The internal experts learn the strategic uses of TRIZ, and become internal consultants as well as instructors, during their advanced topics training.

As the organization develops its own internal experts, they take the lead in the integration of TRIZ with the organization’s existing methodologies. They become the collective “champions” in overcoming the last obstacle to TRIZ implementation: the traditional methods of project management. TRIZ will impact new product projects, process improvement projects, and process re-engineering projects. Following the right-hand “Internal” branch of the flow chart will overcome this obstacle. As more and more people learn TRIZ, and as your company develops its internal cadre of experts, they will integrate TRIZ with all your other tools. For example

  • TRIZ/QFD. Quality Function Deployment identifies and prioritizes the Voice of the Customer, and the capabilities of the company technologies, then helps prioritize new concepts for design and production. TRIZ helps you create the new concepts.
  • TRIZ/Robust design. Robust design finds the right parameters to minimize all forms of waste and cost. TRIZ finds ways of creating the processes that will achieve those parameters.
  • TRIZ/DFM-A: Design for Manufacturability and Design for Assembly identify and prioritize features of design that make manufacturing and assembly low cost, high yield, and short cycle time. TRIZ resolves the technical problems encountered when implementing these features. Similarly, many organizations have developed their own guidelines for “Design for Serviceability” which are enhanced by TRIZ creativity in achieving serviceable designs.
  • TRIZ/TOC: Theory of constraints is used by many manufacturing organizations to identify production bottlenecks. The TOC tools can replace or enhance the problem identification steps in TRIZ problem solving, then the TRIZ creativity tools are used to accelerate development of ways to remove the bottlenecks.
  • TRIZ/Concurrent Engineering (or Integrated Product and Process Engineering, or Product Development Teams, or Supplier/Developer/Customer teams) These project management teams will use TRIZ at many levels ranging from technology forecasting to conceptual design to production design, from implementation problem solving to service, delivery, and repair improvements.

At this level of integration TRIZ passes from being seen as a tool, or a system of tools and methods, and becomes an intrinsic part of your organization’s method of gaining competitive advantage. Until it reaches this point, it will require nurturing and “championship” to keep people aware of their opportunities to apply TRIZ.

References:

1. Valery Tsourikov, The Invention Machine Co., reporting on 18 years experience with IMC’s software, which uses TRIZ, at the Invention Machine Users Group, Feb. 4-5, 1997. The authors’ experience with US and western European companies confirms the order of magnitude of these results. A study confirming in increase in creative ideas for a global pharmaceutical company between 4X and 10X will be published in Nov., 1997 (W. Anderson, J.Farrell, and K. Tate, Total Product Development Symposium)

2. Michael Cowley and Ellen Domb. Beyond Strategic Vision: Effective Corporate Action with Hoshin Planning. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1997.See chapter 12 for a parallel case of introducing a new methodology into organizations.