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I was born in Russian and went to school there in middle 90ies. During my school time we had a special subject called "TRIZ" that stands (in Russian) for "theory of inventive problems solving". Apart from its technical bias as basically a method to optimize workflows in industry, our teachers also provided many different examples how using the principles of TRIZ can help answer even normal, daily questions in an inventive way (if questions have these answers).

Many websites in Russian devoted to self-development and improvement of personal productivity contain large sections dedicated to this method. There are also just sites who only teach TRIZ as a method for solving non-technical tasks from daily life. According to the above-linked Wikipedia article this method is known at least to some top engineers and designers, but I have never seen or heard any application of it for personal development outside of the former Soviet Union.

Wikipedia article lists some related methods, but none I would know. Maybe there is something I am missing here? In Russia (during my time and in my home district) almost every school used to teach it...

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migrated from meta.productivity.stackexchange.com Nov 20 '11 at 15:58

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This is really cool, had never heard about it. Hopefully we'll have more and more of these on the site, local productivity methods that remain so for whatever reason. –  Vic Goldfeld Nov 20 '11 at 15:19

2 Answers 2

Wow, it's amazing that they taught this in school.

I have actually been thinking about this recently, and I believe that TRIZ is a generalization of the notion of design patterns. In software development certain problems show up again and again, perhaps with minor variations. And example would be the problem of creating the object of the correct derived class based on certain parameters. This problem can be solved using a typical pattern (a "factory" in this case), which can be tweaked to fit the particular situation. To me this sounds very much like TRIZ, except that TRIZ is applied to a variety of domains, rather than just to software design.

It boils down to identifying a category of similar problems and describing a general pattern for a solution. Then it is matter of recognizing that a specific problem belongs to a category for which the solution pattern is known.

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TRIZ has made it to the US.

The lineage goes:

TRIZ -> Isreali SIT -> ASIT -> Ford SIT -> USIT (Sickafus) -> HI (Sickafus)

  • TRIZ == theory of inventive problem solving
  • SIT == systematic inventive thinking
  • USIT == unified structured inventive thinking
  • HI == heuristic innovation

Nakagawa (Japan) has a site in english with a significant amount of TRIZ material.

Anti-TrizJournal (Yevgeny) contains some authoritative historical material on triz. On that site there is a who's who of triz according to Yevgeny, there is nobody listed there that he seems to admire, with the exception of Volyuslav Mitrofanov, whom he says is a master of Triz Application.

From there on the we find very little on Mitrofanov, except that he started a Triz school, was a high-level troubleshooter, solved some deep technical problems, focused on asymmetry underlying contradictions, and eventually got into mostly scientific problems.

There's not much out there that would indicate why asymmetry. However it is spelled out in the USIT textbook as part of the first of six solution techniques--Uniqueness. Uniqueness is basically the last step of ARIZ (71). Contradictions and applying uniqueness to them is described very clearly in this text.

  • ARIZ == TRIZ term for algorithm of problem solving
  • Last step == Separate the contradictory requirements either in space or time

Why uniqueness is very applicable is that it's perhaps intuitive to an engineer that a problem is a confluence of factors rather than a solid entity.

TRIZ is attractive to productivity people because it has a "pull" methodology -- it has a term Ideal Final Result IFR, and many other "pull" heuristics or principles.

This is similar to popular structured thinking methodology here in the US, where you state the desired result first and then describe current reality second, assimilating/learning process emerging organically from that. The structural tension principle between current reality and vision. Triz has similar techniques.

Triz can either be used to describe problems or results -- simply change unwanted effects to wanted effects in the phenomenological descriptions. If you have a problem defining a problem because they say not to dwell on problems in other methodology, then switch to wanted effects.

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Welcome on this stackexchange! You mention a few websites, if you have the links to them you can edit the answer to add those (use the "link" tool in toolbar). –  0x6d64 May 3 '13 at 11:23

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