4.9.1 What is TRIZ?

In 1946 Genrikh Saulovich Altshuller developed the “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving”, and TRIZ is Russian acronym for that theory.1

G.S. Altshuller’s first invention was for scuba diving when he was only 14 years old. Serving in the Soviet Navy as a patent expert in the 1940s, his job was to help inventors apply for patents. However, he was often asked to assist in solving problems as well. His curiosity about problem solving led him to search for standard methods.

TRIZ is a methodology, a tool set, a knowledge base, and a model-based technology for generating innovative ideas and solutions for solving problems. TRIZ provides tools and methods for use in problem formulation, system analysis, failure analysis, and patterns of system evolution.2

The study of TRIZ is based on screening and systematisation of millions of successful patents in order to discover the patterns which determine successful resolution of problems.

G.S. Altshuller discovered that over 90% of the problems engineers faced had been solved somewhere before. Most of the solutions could be derived from knowledge already present in the company, industry, or in another industry.3

G.S. Altshuller categorised these patents in a novel way. Instead of classifying them by industry, such as automotive, aerospace, etc., he removed the subject matter to uncover the problem solving process. He often found that the same problems had been solved over and over again using one of only forty fundamental inventive principles. If only later inventors had knowledge of the work of earlier ones, solutions could have been discovered more quickly and efficiently.4

1 Michael A.Orloff (2005). Inventive Thinking through TRIZ – A practical Guide (the 2nd edition), p.3