Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image
Scroll to top


TRIZ at Disneyworld: Report on the TRIZ papers at the 12th Annual GOAL/QPC conference.

| On 10, Dec 1996

By Ellen Domb, Ph.D. TRIZ Consultant and Instructor, and Editor of The TRIZ Journal.
The PQR Group, 190 N. Mountain Ave., Upland, CA 91786 USA (909)949-0857 Fax (909)949-2968
The 12th annual conference of GOAL/QPC was held Nov. 17-20, 1996, at Orlando, FL, USA. GOAL/QPC is a leading research, training, and publishing organization in the field of quality improvement and organizational change. Bob King, the Executive Director of GOAL/QPC, took as a major theme for the conference the need for organization-wide creativity. King proposed that the quality improvement initiatives of the last two decades have proven the validity of teaching analysis tools to everyone in an organization, so that each person can be involved in understanding her/his own work and its relationship with customers and suppliers, but that the lack of creativity tools had frequently resulted in disappointment with the level of improvement of the work. King then announced that GOAL/QPC’s research had found that TRIZ is the most powerful tool for product and process improvement, and the 7 creativity “tool boxes” (developed by Helmut Schlicksupp of Germany, and being presented by Janice Marconi and Bob King of GOAL/QPC in English) were the tools for general creativity that could be taught to everyone.

“TRIZ: An approach to systematic innovation” was presented as a half-day tutorial by Ellen Domb and Bob King, coupled with a half-day tour of “backstage” at Disney’s Epcot and Magic Kingdom. Once again, it was demonstrated that elements of TRIZ can be learned very quickly with interactive experiental education. Less than half the group had a technical education, and only 2 out of 40 had heard of TRIZ before the day began. Yet, on the tour of Disney’s water treatment facility, sewage treatment area, tree farm, parade preparation area, and service delivery tunnels, all members of the group were able to identify at least 20 of the 40 basic principles of TRIZ, all were able to identify contradictions that caused the Disney “Imagineers” to find inventive solutions, and several used the principles of TRIZ to improve upon the ideas that they saw in action. A few examples of the 40 principles at Disneyworld are the following:

Mediator: Wood chips are added to solid waste to improve the density and surface area for conversion into compost. The chips are then filtered out of the compost and reused.
Prior action: Complicated costumes are pre-arranged so that dancers just step into them when the parade starts.
Third dimension: The entire Magic Kingdom is built on top of a tunnel structure so that employees (called “cast members” since they are part of the show) are never seen out of character while in the park. To change costume, take a break, or go to another area, the cast member walks through a hidden door and goes down into the tunnel, makes whatever changes are needed, walks to the new location, and reappears through another door.
Parameter change: Ice is periodically fed into the high-speed vacuum system that moves garbage to a central processing facility. The ice cleans the walls of the vacuum system. Any ice that gets trapped in the system melts harmlessly and is removed with the next batch of garbage.
Segmentation: The speakers for the music used in the parade are located on the floats, on lamp posts, and in trees. Only the smallest speakers are on the floats, using battery power.
Nesting: Aladdin is in the lamp, the lamp is in the sea. When the lamp emerges from the sea, Aladdin emerges from the lamp, fireworks emerge from Aladdin’s head, ….
Copying: The many topiary trees include box topiaries, which take 5 years or more to grow, and “stuffed” topiaries, which can be prepared in a few months (but take much more maintenance, or can only be used for a short time.)

The participants agreed that practice identifying contradictions and principles of invention in the fun atmosphere at Disney prepared them to return to work and apply the concepts of TRIZ to their problems at work.

Technical papers on Axiomatic Design by Prof. Nam Suh of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and on TRIZ by Larry Smith of Ford were coupled in a session on creativity in design. Smith presented a case study on the use of TRIZ to solve vibration problems during idling that had caused customer dissatisfaction with the Ford Escort automobile. Implementation of the solutions resulted in better performance than the former “best in class” benchmark from Toyota.

The principles of Axiomatic Design are similar to, but different from the principles of TRIZ. Prof. Suh has demonstrated that 2 axioms in particular result in more effective product designs:

Independent, uncoupled functions of parts are preferred.
Minimize the information content of each function.

Mr. Smith and Prof. Suh will write a short synopsis for The TRIZ Journal later this winter.

Total Product Development Symposium (pds.html)

“Creativity for Breakthrough” was a panel discussion by Dona Hotopp, Bob King, Janice Marconi, and Ellen Domb. Ms. Hotopp showed the elements of a creative organization, following the GOAL/QPC wheel (a graphic device introduced in 1991, that relates the elements of total quality as Daily Management, Cross-functional Management, and Strategic Management as 3 spokes of a wheel, whose hub is the customer-driven master plan of the organization.) Dr. Domb showed the use of TRIZ in those areas:

Daily Management: Solving production, distribution and design problems
Cross-functional Management: Product development
Strategic Management: Technology forecasting

The entire audience participated in a technology forecasting demonstration, in which the TRIZ pattern of evolution for increasing automation was used, to demonstate that the emergence of automated agents is a predictable outcome of the evolution of software tools, starting with the abacus, machine language, assembly language, higher languages (Fortran, Basic, etc.), tool sets (Office Suites,etc.) finally emerging as tools that are directed by people (browsers) and launched but not directed (search agents.) The next step, tools that need no direction, have already been seen in the popular press as “mind reading” software for games. So far it can only read 6 commands, but the path of the technology forecast is clear.