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The Fourth TRIZ Symposium in Japan

| On 11, Sep 2008

Guest Commentator

Paul Filmore is reporting from The Third TRIZ Symposium in Japan.———


I have arrived to my second Japan TRIZ conference near Kyoto.  The official title is ‘The 4th TRIZ Symposium in Japan’.  After a 12 hour flight, three trains; I have finally arrived.  And ‘arrive’ is the operative word, because to arrive in Japan is like few other countries.  Immediately one is aware of ‘contradictions’.  A land very flat with sudden dramatic mountains, beautiful forests and dense industry, frantic activity and inner peace, modern architecture and ancient temples, to name but a few i.e., a TRIZ practitioners paradise!


Out my bedroom window I see Lake Biwa; a lake as big as a sea.  In the foreground are long sticks appearing from the water in regular patterns.  What is the ‘function of these I wonder?


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My Japanese friends here tell me these are to guide fish to a small area where nets can be placed. This system works by the knowledge that when fish find their way blocked they tend to always swim towards deeper water.  As one can see from the photos the sticks are often further apart than a fish’s dimensions, but work I assume because when the fish starts to swim from a blockage, they keep going in one direction.  This approach seems to be symbolic of a key area of TRIZ, that of really understanding the underlying functionality (or physical principle) in any process.   Please get back to me if I have missed something here!  I was also wondering if the heights of the sticks allow transmission of vibrations from the wind to produce an acoustic fence underwater, enhancing the fish channelling effect?


The day started with an exquisite breakfast (with hardly any food I recognised).  A warm greeting waited at registration for the pre session delegates.  The choice (?) was to learn about TRIZ in Japanese or for a detailed discussion of sharing individual TRIZ experience.  The second option proved to be interesting not least in catching up with colleagues’ developments from a year ago.  It also developed into interesting speculation of where TRIZ is going.


The formal opening was after lunch, by Toshihiro Hayashi, chairperson of the Japan TRIZ Society Board.   He presented an interesting analysis of the growth in participants over the last four years to this conference.  Although the total number of participants was lower (167) this year (due to a number of reasons), those presenting had increased from 34 to 46.  The first Keynote was from Amir Roggel who gave a presentation of Intel, innovation and the TRIZ developments at Intel worldwide.  Two significant points stood out.  Firstly that Intel has recognised that TRIZ has made Intel ‘many millions’, far offsetting ALL the costs associated introducing TRIZ.  Secondly that TRIZ is being significantly ramped up with over 1000 employees having gained level 1 (5days), over 200 at level 2 (another 5 days) and ~40 at level 3 (20 days).


After the Keynote, there followed a number of sessions in parallel.  All presentations were dual projected in English and Japanese, with translation provided for question sessions.  I gave a paper which followed on research from last year’s presentation of identifying indicators associated with highly effective engineers and then linking these to TRIZ tools.  This year I presented the results of associating Lean and 6Sigma tools with the same indicators.  What I found from initial analysis was that Lean, 6Sigma and Lean Six Sigma had ‘less rich toolsets’ associated with these indicators.  This rather implying that TRIZ has some significant advantages over traditional approaches!  One other session of note was from Dr Toru Nakagawa reporting on the latest developments of USIT.  This approach is gaining strength in Japan, judging on the number of papers to be presented using this.  I rather liked Toru’s ‘Six Box’ overview of the USIT procedure developed using Data Flow Diagram visualisation (see diagram).  I have always felt that the ‘four boxes’ representation of ‘general’ TRIZ, used often to promote TRIZ, trivialised TRIZ in the minds of new comers.


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The evening began with a buffet dinner allowing people to move around and ‘communicate’ with each other.  This worked very well and gave many opportunities to talk and link up.  The evening closed with an optional classical guitar concert from Ireland’s premier guitarist, Catherine Thom.
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Toru Nakagawa exclaimed, ‘a very beautiful and relaxing recital’.


What a day!  I look forward to tomorrow.


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