The Triz Innovation Methodology

By Martin Gilliard

Triz or the theory of inventive problem solving was developed in Russia by scientist Genrich Altshuller and his colleagues.

The technique aims to systematically solve problems and create innovative solutions by first identifying and then eliminating what Altshuller refers to as technical contradictions.

(Photo Credit: Marc Fonteijn)

The basic philosophy of this method is that ninety-nine percent of all inventions are basically modified replications of past discoveries and that problems can basically be defined as contradictions between two elements.

Technical contradictions usually take the form of: if we want to have something that is more desirable then we have to increase something that is less desirable.

For example if we want more legroom for passengers in a car then we either make the car bigger which in turn increases costs or we reduce the size of the trunk (boot for Brits!) which in turn leaves less room for suitcases and golf clubs!

The trick is to come up with a creative approach for resolving the contradictions that have been defined. For example:

  • to increase trunk space in a jeep the spare wheel was placed on the tailgate as a feature of the vehicle.
  • to overcome the small browsing area on personal mobile devices a pinch to zoom technology was designed to enable you to zoom in using your fingers
  • In Edison's incandescent lamp. The filament was made to give of light for a longer period of time by using a carbonized thread for a filament and by placing the filament in a vacuum.

Alschuller analyzed many patents to formulate a matrix of typical contradictions with typical solutions used to resolve the contradiction.


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