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TRIZ Futures Conf. Day 1 Morning

| On 03, Nov 2010

Ellen Domb

The first morning of the TRIZ Futures Conference European TRIZ Association 2010 is devoted to tutorials. Jose Vicente (frequent TRIZ Journal author) is doing a half-day tutorial for beginners, and I am at the session presented by Simon Litwin, nominally on Function-Oriented Search, but started with Simon’s annecdotes about his studies with Altshuller. Simon was introduced by Gaetano Cascini, member of The TRIZ Journal editorial committee and past-president (several times!) of the European TRIZ Association. If you are thinking about attending a future ETRIA meeting, don’t worry about all my notes about old friends – there are many new people at the meeting, and the conversations (best learning part of the meeting, not the lectures) are very inclusive.


As always, this is a personal report on the papers and events that I attended. For a full program, see www.etria.net. The papers will be available shortly after the end of the conference.


Function-oriented search is a problem solving tool based on global knowledge search, using functions as the key search itmes. Simon claims that this resolves the classical TRIZ contradiction: the solution should be disruptive to insure significant improvement and the solution should be already proven to reduce implementation time. Function-oriented search is based on a generalization of functions using both the action and the object of the function, which expands the search beyond what would be found using a single definition. Simon reports that the power of Function-oriented search is so great that Gen3 very seldome uses ARIZ or standard solutions now.


As an example with great appeal for the parents in the audience, Litwin showed the case of improving disposable baby diapers by increasing the density of holes in the plastic sheet using a technology developed in the space industry for testing micro-meteorite resistance of metal sheets. The function-oriented search found an effective technology, already developed and deployed and proven, and the researchers at the diaper company were able to accept technology from outside their industry in a way that they would not if they had only an idea. He showed similar success with using Formula 1 race pit crew coordination for hospital emergency treatment and using ideas from condom production for food wrapping (leaks are important – think about it!)


Litwin presented an 11 step algorithm for the method and then demonstrated the use of the algorithm with the popular case study of seasonal allergies, addressed both from the point of view of the sufferer and the point of view of the producer of drugs and devices. Both parties want to avoid side effects, breathing resistance, wearing conspicuous devices, and high expense. The development of the solution from a concept initially developed for dust control in cement production was a great case study, including secondary problems (the cement industry doesn’t have to worry about removing the device, the person with allergies wants to remove and dispose of it.) In my opinion what makes a great case is that it is easy to remember, easy to explain in a variety of cultures, and it illustrates the significant elements of the lesson – thanks, Simon!