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The Undervalued Innovation Potential

| On 19, Mar 2004

Pavel Livotov, Ph. D.
TriSolver Group, Hanover, Germany, www.trisolver.com

Despite best efforts of the last decade, 60 to 70 percent of all initiatives pursued by the European companies to integrate TRIZ into their innovation process are abandoned or fail, resulting in wasted expenditures and disappointment1. Of those initiatives that do succeed, most end in products that deliver sustainable or incremental improvements while less than 10% result in breakthrough solutions. As a consequence the innovation potential of TRIZ still remains undervalued within the companies.

To analyze the situation more deeply we used our TriSolver software for innovation management that enables companies to document automatically the origin of each idea at every stage of the product development process. With less effort one can evaluate what TRIZ tools are more effective and what innovation methods often help to achieve breakthrough solutions. Analyzing numerous industrial projects, TriSolver has discovered the factors that lead to low process yields in TRIZ application and developed recommendations for optimization of the well known practices and tools.

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Following statistics (see diagram 1) demonstrates the frequency of application of the TRIZ tools in the industrial innovation or problem solving projects. Although formulated about 30 years ago, the 40 Altshuller’s Innovation Principles [1] have remained till now the most popular TRIZ tool, used in 98% of all projects. The reason for this fact is obvious: principles are simple to use or modify and can be easily integrated in brainstorming or daily engineer’s work. In general the 40 principles are good to enhance technical creativity but only scratch the surface of the problem in complicated situations [2]. No less effective are the 12 double general principles for solving both technical and non-technical tasks [3, 5]. Application experience of the Contradiction Matrix over the years demonstrates however no considerable advantages in quality of solutions in comparison with the direct use of the 40 principles. As not the Matrix but the Principles remain crucial for problem solving, also the best and fullest matrix does not guarantee the solution of difficult problem.

To identify the best practices in problem solving with TRIZ, TriSolver offered a method of idea or patent portfolio that easily helps to define the market potential of ideas and their risk or costs as well in 4 levels of importance that can be assigned to each idea: low, middle, high and very high.

The ideas with high to very high market potentials and low to average costs can be obviously selected as candidates for the breakthrough solutions (see ideas N. 1, 2, 15, 17 in the lower right quadrant in Fig. 1).

The diagram No.2 illustrates from this position, which TRIZ tools are less effective and what methods help to achieve “strong” ideas. In other words it shows how frequent the utilization of definite TRIZ tools resulted in breakthrough ideas or concepts. The winner of this statistical analysis are predictably the ARIZ based TriSolver-Method2 from one hand and surprisingly the Method of the Anticipatory Failure Identification (also know as a “subversive” analysis) from the other hand. Comparing both diagrams 1 and 2 one can prove that companies undervalue the ARIZ and the Method of the Anticipatory Failure Identification using them groundless seldom.

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The high potential of ARIZ-approach in the practice was indirectly conformed by a separate investigation [4], where the extremely high composite score of solutions was achieved in application both of innovation and separation principles for resolving technical and physical contradictions respectively in the same problems.

In the Method of the Anticipatory Failure Identification the failures are “invented” in a subversive manner, as it is well known. Once a list of “invented” failure scenarios is completed, the problem must be re-inverted and the failures must be prevented from ever happening. This approach leads in the praxis very frequently to new product concepts with higher reliability and less cost.

The utilization of the TRIZ methods and tools, selected for our analysis, was performed within more than 30 innovation projects, which can be described as a 5-step process that includes
1. Defining the innovation tasks (see fig. 2)
2. Analyzing initial situation and technical system
3. Idea generation and problem solving
4. Evaluating ideas
5. Developing and evaluating concepts

The figure 2 demonstrates three types of task levels in accordance to problem difficulty, wherein on task level C (partial system improvement) the satisfactory solution could be found in 2 days, and on the levels B (improvement of entire system) and A (development of totally new products) the projects were completed successfully in 4 and 12 weeks respectively.

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In our next publication we plan to present some real case studies and application examples of the Anticipatory Failure Identification and of the comprehensive search for solution with the TriSolver innovation approach. Professional exploitation of these tools enables companies to make dramatic improvements in time to market as it aligns the marketing and development efforts. Product and service concepts that have a 90% chance of success are typically delivered in less than 3 months.
Design prototypes and intellectual property evaluations are run in parallel and are completed soon thereafter.

References
1. Altshuller G. (1979): Creativity as an exact science, 1979 Moscow (rus.), 1984 Gordon & Breach NY.
2. Livotov P. (2003): Modeling 40 Innovation Principles with «Moving Little People», TRIZ-
Journal, July 2003.
3. Livotov P., Petrov V. (2002): TRIZ innovation technology: product development and problem
solving. Handbook. 302 p., TriSolver Edition, Hanover, 2002 (germ.).
4. Slocum M.S., Domb E., Lundberg C. (2003): Solution Dynamics as a Function of Resolution
Method. Physical Contradiction v. Technical Contradiction. TRIZ-Journal, January 2003.
5. TriSolver «Idea Generator & Manager», V.2.2, professional edition, English/German, Hanover, 1998-2004.

Author
Pavel Livotov, Ph. D., author of more than 70 patented inventions, began his work with TRIZ in
the 1980’s in St. Petersburg, Russia. As CEO of TriSolver Group Europe (www.trisolver.com), he is sharing his experience of the past 10 years through the introduction, training and integration of TRIZ in more than 100 German and Swiss companies.
E-mail: livotov@trisolver.de