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Software Review: CreaTRIZ™ 2.2 and CreaTRIZ™ 2.2 for Business and Management

| On 10, Mar 2002

Software Review: CreaTRIZ™ 2.2 and CreaTRIZ™ 2.2 for Business and Management

By Drs. Michael Slocum and Ellen Domb, editors
This month CREAX has introduced its newest products, CreaTRIZ™2.2 and CreaTRIZ™ 2.2 for Business and Management. CREAX is a multinational software development and consulting company. CreaTRIZ combines many techniques and databases of classical TRIZ with new research led by CREAX director (and frequent TRIZ Journal author) Dr. Darrell Mann and CREAX president Mr. Simon Dewulf. The editors of The TRIZ Journal decided to write this review together, because of their extensive experience with the competitive software products, with the help of some inexperienced users as well. (Ellen Domb has had a business relationship with Invention Machine for seven years, and uses their TechOptimizer and Knowledgist products in her teaching and consulting work. Michael Slocum worked for Rand as a consultant using TechOptimizer for two years, and is an expert user of the Ideation Workbench and related products, certified as a TRIZ Scientist by Ideation International Inc. Both have modest experience with Insytec’s TRIZ Explorer.) Readers who prefer to go directly to the source, rather than depend on a review, can see a demo of CreaTRIZ on the CREAX website, .

CreaTRIZ can be used by individuals or by groups. People with intermediate or advanced knowledge of TRIZ will find it very easy to use. Beginners will find it a considerable aid to learning specific TRIZ techniques as well as an aid to organizing the stages of solution of a problem. Of all the TRIZ software packages reviewed, CreaTRIZ is the most suitable for pedagogic use. The on-line demo is excellent. The tutorials are good but do not replace training on TRIZ BUT they are a very good way to organize all the techniques used in solving a particular problem, etc.

Specific modules of the software aid the user in applying familiar concepts such as

  • Su-field (substance-field) modeling and application of the 76 standard
    solutions
  • Resolution of physical contradictions by means of separation principles
  • Resolution of technical contradictions by means of the 40 inventive
    principles
  • Functional analysis, with a unique approach to including attributes as
    well as functions
  • Trends of technology evolution, including many of the well-known classical
    trends and new research results.
  • Problem analysis, including ideality, examination of resources, and use of
    the maturity curves (“S-curves”)

The information is organized flexibly-for example, the user can select whether to view the 40 principles in numerical order, in random order, or in the order of frequency listed in the Contradiction Matrix. The program will also allow the user to calculate all possible combinations of multiple contradiction statements. The trends of evolution can be viewed in random order; details and examples can be viewed for a specific trend. A very welcome feature is that users can add their own examples to any of the databases, either as text with graphics or as a hyperlink. This is a feature that was very welcome when introduced last year in TRIZ Explorer. Corporate groups can use this feature to customize CreaTRIZ to include their own technology, and individuals can use it to expand the variety of examples that they review.

The Business and Management version of CreaTRIZ has an extensive list of business examples for each of the 40 principles. These will not surprise readers of The TRIZ Journal, since Darrell Mann has contributed several articles, with several co-authors, on new versions of the 40 principles. The new feature is a new matrix, focused on business issues. The new matrix has 31 parameters, very different from those in the classical contradiction matrix, such as

  • R&D Cost, time, and risk
  • Support cost and time
  • Communication flow
  • Supply chain quality

There are also some familiar parameters, such as

  • Adaptability
  • System generated harmful effects
  • Reliability

Questions that are not answered in the program documentation, that might interest TRIZ students, are

  1. What was the basis of the research for this matrix?
  2. Why is it symmetrical? (I checked a few dozen cells, and found that 18,5
    is the same as 5,18, etc.) This is not true for the technical matrix, and it
    is not true in my experience in management problem solving. That is, the
    contradiction that as X improves, Y gets worse does not necessarily have the
    same solutions as the one that is as Y improves, X gets worse.
  3. Do the recommended principles (the numbers in the cells) represent best
    judgment of the consultants/analysts who did the work? Or are they statistical
    (most frequently used solutions)? If statistical, what was the database that
    was used (textbooks, best practices reports, articles from management
    journals? Business patents?)

Readers of Darrell Mann’s 4-part tutorial on the system operator (also called the 9-Window method) will recognize the system used to identify resources in the problem and constraints on the problem at the system, subsystem, or supersystem level, from past, present, and future perspectives. This is not the first attempt to include assessment of resources and constraints in a software product (Ideation Workbench has a set of questions about both in its Innovative Situation Questionnaire, and TechOptimizer has places where they can be documented in its Product Analysis and Process Analysis modules) but it is unique in its perspective and ease of use. The Problem Exploration process in the software is as follows:

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CreaTRIZ has a Knowledge utility that directly links the user to any of 4 patent databases for direct research on other solutions to problems, rather than having a self-contained database or expandable database, as the competing products do. The tutorial suggests using functional language (subject-action-object style) but this is one area where CreaTRIZ does not give the user any help. There is no separate database for the Business version-the link to the patent databases is the same as in the Classic version. Users may want to create their own links to other databases for solution to business and management problems, rather than be limited to patents.

Function analysis is conducted in a manner consistent with that developed by Invention Machine. The symbology utilized is self-explanatory and model building is easy. The linkages are represented in a format familiar to TRIZ practitioners. Model generation in Ideations Problem Formulator is a little more complex and difficult to use but unlike TOPE 3.X and CreaTRIZ 2.2, it has a Problem Formulation function, which extracts contradictions from your model in a manner that applies over three hundred TRIZ operators. Overall, the Attribute of Functions module will be found to be useful.

The figures representing the 40 principles are animated, which may help some people understand them. Others may prefer to ignore them. The 40 Principles may also be viewed in various manners: order in Matrix, based on contradictions imputed previously, numerical order, random, or by specific selection. The Principle definitions have been updated from that found in the earlier TRIZ works and proves to be very helpful in conveying the meaning behind the principle descriptor (i.e. Parameter change, color change, etc.,).

The Ideality concept is represented by a basic flow diagram indicating your current situation, the target function, the Ideal Final Result, and results from the process.

Maturity model is psychological only-that is, the user guesses where the system under study falls on the S-curve. Considering the emphasis on data in TRIZ, this seems like a peculiar approach. Consulting experience -people always get it wrong compared to data, mostly based on the mood of the team. The Business version of the software has its own set of illustrations and examples for the patterns of evolution.

The report generation function is similar to that of TOPE and is a useful method of collecting all the work performed on a particular project.

Competition is a primary means by which technology advances. This addition to the TRIZ software family is sure to force improvements in its’ competitors products. Anyone seriously exploring TRIZ as an innovation methodology should conduct a serious evaluation of this product.