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10/31/07 9:09 AM
Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ)
Following World War II, the high quality, technologically advanced products of the United States
dominated world markets. With the oil shock of the 1970s, however, many of the economic advantages
associated with cheap petroleum were lost and the recovered economies of Europe and Asia emerged as
strong competitors in many product areas. The innovative technologies of the US could no longer
insulate industries from the customer oriented approaches of European and Asian producers.
The 1990s have seen the recovery of many US industries, most notably the automotive industry. This
has been due in part to the influence of many Japanese quality methodologies introduced here by the late
Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa, Dr. Masao Kogure, Dr. Yoji Akao, Dr. Noriaki Kano, Mr. Masaaki Imai, and
many others. These quality methods have helped US industries reduce defects, improve quality, lower
costs, and become more customer focused. As the quality gap with countries like Japan gets smaller, the
US is looking for new approaches to assure customer satisfaction, reduce costs, and bring products to
the market faster. In the US, we say "better, cheaper, faster."
While there are many widely used design and development approaches such as Quality Function
Deployment, these show us
to solve but not always
to solve the technology bottlenecks that
arise. One technique, the Reviewed Dendrogram, relies on the experience of designers which may be
limited to certain areas of expertise such as chemistry or electronics. Thus, a solution that might be
simpler and cheaper using magnetism could be missed. For example, a materials engineer searching for
a dampener may limit his search to rubber based materials. A more efficient solution might lie in creating
a magnetic field. Since this is outside the experience of the engineer, how could he imagine such a
solution? Using TRIZ, he would be able to explore design solutions in fields other than his own.
Rockwell International's Automotive Division faced a problem like this. They were losing a competitive
battle with a Japanese company over the design of brakes for a golf cart. Since both Rockwell and the
Japanese competitor were in the automotive field, they were competing on redesigns of an automobile
brake system but with smaller components. In TRIZ, this seeking solutions only in one's field is called
"psychological inertia" because it is natural for people to rely on their own experience and not think
outside their specialty. With TRIZ, the problem was solved by redesigning a bicycle brake system with
larger components. The result was a part reduction from twelve to four parts and a cost savings of 50%.
2.0 The History of TRIZ