4.7.4 How to use TILMAG?

TILMAG is a process, which consists of 5 steps, which need to followed in order to find the most suitable and effective solutions for your problem or concern.1

Step 1. State the problem clearly and develop solution ideas.

Firstly – discuss with the team and state your problem or concern clearly. Now you can use Brainstorming to identify the most obvious solutions to the problem or the concern. Consider initial ideas for solutions on paper.

Step 2. Identify Ideal Solution Elements (ISEs). What does it mean?

Ideal Solution Elements (ISEs) are features, characteristics, attributes, and qualities, properties, which have been identified to meet the requirements or overcome the problem identified in Step 1.

At least two ISEs are needed and preferably no more than six ISEs.

Tips for generating ISEs:

  • Describe ISEs in a positive manner;
  • ISEs have to be specific to the defined problem or concern;
  • Formulate ISEs precisely by not exceeding more than 6 words;
  • ISEs need to be tied to customer demands, if your organization is developing a new product / service);
  • Use simple sentences

Step 3. Build TILMAG matrix with defined ISEs

Construct TILMAG matrix by writing the same ISE's on each axis. Please have a look at Table 1. TILMAG matrix

Tips for constructing TILMAG matrix:

  • List all defined ISE’s sequentially on both axes;
  • The combination between same ISEs has to be excluded – cross out these cells (the same ISEs isn’t representing associations);
  • The matrix size depends on the number of defined ISE’s.

Step 4. Brainstorm and record associations for each paired ISE. 2

This is the most significant step in TILMAG method, because the team members can now generate solutions for solving the defined problem or concern.

Steps to follow:

1) At first, make associations with the paired ISEs and write them in the cells of the matrix.
Making associations with the paired ISEs meansgenerating solutions for the stated problem in Step 1 by addressing and evaluating interactions and contradictions between paired ISEs.

2) Move from one cell to next cells until each cell in the matrix has at least one association. Based on the nature of the ISEs and on the type of interaction between the ISEs, the time required to generate associations can vary from a few minutes to an hour. But try to be creative in generating solutions and concepts – use brainstorming and TRIZ methods.3

Tips for generating solutions:

  • Try to identify 2-3 associations between the paired combinations of any 2 ISE’s, except for combination between the same ISEs;
  • Continue the process until all the not crossed out cells of the matrix have been considered;
  • If entire row or column is left blank, it usually means that respective ISE is not an applicable ISE for the solution of problem or concern.4


And now let’s have a look at the following Table 2, which demonstrates “The process of making associations between paired ISEs” and let easy to understand the process.


Step 5. Bring associations back to the original problem and prioritise solutions.

All associations in the matrix have to be structured and regrouped into the subsystems or sub-processes in order to determine the most effective solutions to the problem. Choose associations one at a time from the TILMAG matrix, identify its features, generate ideas for solutions based on these features and apply the ideas back to the problem identified in Step 1. Review and select the best associations from the TILMAG matrix and summarize results in the table

In addition, you can combine ideas brainstormed for solutions (step 1) with the ideas generated using TILMAG (step 5).

Are you a little confused and mixed up? Have a look at the case study below and you will feel more confident.

1 http://www.realinnovation.com/content/c061218a.asp