HUMAN- AND TECHNIQUE-LIKE CONTRADICTIONS IN TRIZ
Editor | On 10, Mar 1998
Semyon D. Savransky*
The TRIZ Experts
“What would you do,” asked my neighbor, “when you find, in your own bed, your wife’s lover with another woman ?”
From “Unkempt Thoughts” by Stanislaw Jerzy Lec
TRIZ states that inventive solution of a problem is such solution that overcoming some contradictions .
The contradiction means literally “saying ‘No'”, but more generally refers to the propositions which assert apparently incompatible or opposite things. The idea of contradiction was introduced by George Berkeley about three centuries ago . As the main point of critique of the formal logic developed by G.W.F. Hegel between 1812 and 1816, contradiction is the most popular concept for introducing dialectical ideas. For example, F. Engels wrote in the end of XIX century “Unity (Interpenetration) of Opposites” a basic “Law of Dialectics”, and V. I. Lenin said about it that “The splitting of a single whole and the cognition of its contradictory parts is the essence … of dialectics”. Lenin draws attention to the fact that the contradiction is central not just to “logic” (as normally understood) but cognition (analysis), and that the dialectical concept of contradiction is not the contradiction between two things external to one another, but the contradiction which is at the essence of a thing.
Dialectics was the official and the only ideology in the former Soviet Union, moreover every citizen of USSR had to study it as well as works of Lenin, Marx and Engels in a school. Perhaps, that is why TRIZ was created in the former Soviet Union, and the principal concepts of TRIZ is the contradiction.
In general various contradictions can be separated into three major groups:
More detail scheme of contradictions is shown in the figure 1, adapted from . The consecutive reformulation of the contradictions, arouse by the problem, occurs during the solution of a problem in the framework of TRIZ. Each following contradiction makes our understanding of the problem better.
Figure 1. Types of contradictions. Note that usually difficulties of resolution of contradiction increase from the bottom to the top , and from the left to the right side of the each line of this figure.
The TRIZ methods of “win-win” resolution of technical and physical contradictions are excellently represented in G. Altshuller’s well-known books (see e.g., ), so we describe them shortly just because we would like to ask the readers to apply these methods at the end of this paper:
1. The technical contradictions have the following form:
An action is simultaneously useful and harmful; the introduction (or amplification) of the useful action or the recession (or easing) of the harmful effect leads to deterioration of some parts of the system (i.e. the sub-systems) or the whole system, e.g., an inadmissible complexity of the system.
The technical contradiction represents the conflict between TWO PARTS of a system. For example, we want to increase the brightness of welding area and decrease the temperature of the process.
An inventive situation is usually inherent in some groups of the technical contradictions in the system. The choice of the certain contradiction from the group means transition from an inventive situation to the beginning of the problem solution.
The reader can find different matrixes for resolution of the technical contradictions in References 1,3 -5,9.
2. The physical contradictions have the following form:
A given zone ( element ) should have the property A to execute necessary function and the property non-A /anti-A/ to satisfy the conditions of a problem.
The physical contradiction implies inconsistent requirements to a physical condition OF THE SAME element.
For example, we want that insulator in semiconductor chips has low dielectric constant on order to reduce parasitic capacities and has high dielectric constant in order to storage information better.
Successful formulation of the physical contradiction shows usually the problem’s nucleus. The contradiction is extremely intensified in this case, that often makes the problem’s solution straightforward.
Usually some of the separation principles [1,3] helps to resolve the physical contradiction.
G. Altshuller also had studied so-called administrative contradictions, i.e. contradictions between human body and technique . At the first glance such administrative contradictions should be located between human-like and technique-like contradictions at the figure 1, but more detail analysis shows that the administrative contradictions could be included in the human-like contradictions . Recently E. Kurgi (private communication, 1995) suggested the idea of mathematical contradictions in TRIZ. For example, you need to work with a mechanism which is described by the following system of equations:
ì a + b = x
í a + b = y
î x =/= y
It is too early to discuss these contradictions in non-special literature although such contradictions can potentially arise within the context of automated control. This concepts of the mathematical contradiction is a part of current research by The TRIZ Experts.
We divided the natural contradictions into two groups.
Fundamental contradictions show that natural laws limit possible solution of a problem. The impossibility to have temperature below 0 degree K or speed above the light velocity are the examples of fundamental contradictions. Perhaps, such contradictions represent only our current knowledge and some of them can be eliminated in future.
Cosmological contradictions represent restrictions caused by Earth conditions. For example, it is impossible to keep any weight at thin beam because the gravity at our planet, or a car cannot exhaust pure hydrogen because of explosive interaction with oxygen in our atmosphere.
If a contradiction is not possible to overcome, we can rather speak about a trade-off solution of the problem. Such kind of solutions is more typical for the human-like contradictions.
The human-like contradictions can be divided into three groups (see the figure). It seems possible to resolve the first and second of them in the framework of TRIZ paradigm.
In general, the human-like contradictions have the following form:
Anything is required to make, to receive some useful result, to avoid the harmful (undesirable) effect, but it is not known how to achieve the result at some acceptable level.
Such form of a problem reminds an inventive situation that is well known in TRIZ, and often occurs during innovations.
It seems useful to categorize the human-like contradictions according to the major restrains to innovation at different society levels (see the table below).
There is simple hierarchy between different levels of the human-like contradictions, and it is easy to break Individual or Managerial restrains than Cultural ones.
|Stereotyped thinking or lack of creativity (especially for elder specialists)||Beliefs in some official functional method (often called as a scientific)||The “holiness” of the current political/economic system|
|Risk of failure||Money-disposal programs||Prejudice to change|
|Lack of knowledge or memory||Decision-making and Leadership styles||The occidental-oriental differing views of goals|
|Self-imposed constraints (e.g., taboos, afraid of questioning)||Time-handling schedules||Bias against diagnosis of
frontiers of the current paradigm
The knowledge of the society level to which is the human-like contradiction belongs and types of restrains help choose the strategy for the problem’s solution. The following methods are developed in the framework of TRIZ by Altshuller, Zlotin-Zusman, Sibiryakov, Pevzner, Kaplan, Pinyaev, Vertkin, Savransky and others+ .
Methodology of elimination of the Managerial contradictions itself (alike Goldratt’s TOC but not limited only by the “tree-cloud” constructions  );
Few models of development of creative persons (e.g., activation of imagination);
Few models for development of innovative organizations (unfortunately, it seems that most of them don’t applicable to western companies);
Algorithms of the transition from the human-like contradiction to the technique-like contradiction (especially powerful when an initial conflict is between human body and technique);
Model of resolution of the contradictions between person and culture constrains of society;
Model of resolution of Managerial conflicts at a collective level during different stages of product development;
Timing of innovation in the organizations participating in industrial competition;
Policy of investment based on TRIZ ideas about technical evolution and innovation.
In opposite to the methods of resolution of the technique-like problems the approaches A) – H) above are not evaluated in many case studies yet, so the extensive research is needed in this field.
On the other hand, the various registers of physical, chemical, etc. effects are collected in TRIZ [1,3,7] in order to overcome the Individual lack of knowledge or memory. These registers are very fruitful on the background of growing deep specialization of modern engineers and managers.
It is necessary to note, that studies of the human-like contradictions in TRIZ intersect with psychology, management and other social disciplines but often the researchers don’t know results of studies in other fields. For example, M. Oakley proposed several reasons for resisting an innovative change  :
To protect social status.
To protect an existing way of life.
To prevent devaluation of capital invested in an existing facility.
To prevent a reduction of livelihood because the change would devalue the knowledge or skills presently required.
To prevent the elimination of a job or profession.
To avoid expenditure such as the cost of replacing existing equipment.
Because the change opposes social customs, fashions and tastes and the habits of everyday life.
Because the change conflicts with existing laws.
Because of rigidity inherent in large or bureaucratic organizations.
Because of personality, habit, fear, equilibrium between individuals or institutions, status and similar social and psychological considerations.
Because of tendency of organized groups to force conformity.
Because of the reluctance of an individual or group to disturb the equilibrium of society or the business atmosphere.
It is easy to see that the Oakley’s list  coincides with the conclusions about major innovation restrictions founded in TRIZ.
The human-like contradiction itself has usually low heuristic value, does not show a direction to the answer. That is why contrary to the solutions of the technique-like contradictions, trade-offs in the human-like contradictions can frequently provide “strong” resolutions. Perhaps, this difference is based on various types of systems: the technical systems are usually have determine nature while nature of the human systems is probable or stochastic.
The following paragraph represents the examples of such trade-offs :
The upper restrains level of society (cultural) causes barriers to an effective individual or organizational problem solving. Creation of multinational joint ventures seems be workable to overcome such cultural barriers, just because the organizations that operate in uncertain environments are more likely to innovate. On the other hand, larger organizations with differentiated or decentralized branches and/or nurture informality young senior management are more likely to innovate, so sometimes anti-monopoly laws play against technical progress. On the other side, the organizations act as catalysts or stockades to effective individual problem solving, e.g., often the occupation with status and its associated symbols extinguish individual innovation.
In conclusion, we would like to ask the reader to make the following exercise:
read once again the discrepancy of the famous Polish writer that is given in the epigraph of this paper;
convert it into the technique-like contradiction;
find a resolution of using the known TRIZ methods.
You can send your answers to The TRIZ Experts by e-mail all_TRIZ@hotmail.com with the subject line S.E. Lec. Try to find the “win-win” answer for this human-like contradiction ! The best answers will be published in a future issue of The TRIZ Journal.
1. G.S. Altshuller “Najti ideyu” (in Russian) Novosibirsk, Nauka, 1991.
2. G. Berkeley “A treatise concerning the principles of human knowledge” 1710
3. S.D. Savransky “TRIZ” (in English) TTE, 1998, 454 pp.
4. Nice free software for Altshuller’s classical matrix is represented at
5a. S.D. Savransky “A few words about the Altshuller’s contradiction matrix ” WWW TRIZ-Journal, August 1997
5b. S.D. Savransky “Re-Organization Of The Principles In The TRIZ Contradiction Matrix” Int. Design Theory and Methodology Conference DTM-98, Atlanta, Georgia , USA, September 13-16, 1998.
6. H. W. Dettmer ” Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints” Quality Press, 1997
7. G. Frenklach “Classification of Effects” WWW TRIZ-Journal, March 1998
8. M. Oakley “Managing Product Design” John Wiley & Sons, 1984.
9. Additional articles on contradictions have appeared in the July, 1997, and November, 1996 issues of The TRIZ Journal.
+ Because of semi-private domain (it means that TRIZniks shared information at non-public seminars or meetings, but didn’t published it) of these methods, the author, unfortunately, cannot disclosure their peculiarities here.
* About the author:
Semyon D. Savransky, a member of the International TRIZ Association, got acquainted with TRIZ in 1980-1981. Now Semyon D. Savransky is one of the distinguished TRIZ experts who combines his experience in engineering, science and pedagogic. He has applied TRIZ for several R & D projects in various high-tech industries in Russia and USA. Semyon D. Savransky is the author of about 150 patents and scientific papers in physics, TRIZ, materials science, electronics, and optics. He received his Ph.D. in 1989 in Leningrad /St. Petersburg now /, and his academic background is split between Novgorod State University (Russia), University Pais Vasco (Spain) and New York City University (USA). Currently Semyon D. Savransky is the head of the R&D Division of West Coast Quartz Corporation (California). He is the founder of the Research Center in Novgorod State University – NGPI (Russia) and The TRIZ Experts International Company.