The Altshuller Institute

for TRIZ Studies

Ah Ha! Moment: The "Ideal" Pasta
How many of us buy spaghetti noodles and take them home to make some sort of pasta dish (spaghetti and meat balls for example)? Probably most of us. Think through this process from the point you are in the grocery store. You find the appropriate aisle for pasta noodles, pick out your brand, pay for it, take it home, store it in a cabinet, and when you are ready to make the spaghetti dish, what do you do?

The darn noodles are too big to fit easily into the pot of boiling water, so you cut the noodles or just brute force break them to they fit into the pan, right? How long have spaghetti noodles been around? How long have the too long spaghetti noodles and the too small diameter cooking pots been around? 100 years (just guessing)? It's as if the people working for companies that make spaghetti noodles have never cooked spaghetti! Yes, pasta noodles are an extruded food product but someone a long time ago decided on the length without considering how they were going to be used.

Now go to: and see the brand "new" product introduced by Muellers over the past 6 months or so: "You've waited too long for pasta this short. With Pot-Sized™ Pasta, we've taken our delicious, traditional pasta and cut it in half so it fits into the pot straight out of the box. Now you don't have to break it, or deal with the mess". I suspect many of you have already used this product but never thought about it in a TRIZ context.

So exciting! It's as if someone in the pasta business has discovered the theory of relativity. Someone changed the spacing in an extruder die cut and "eureka"....we now have noodles that fit in the pot without having to cut them. No scrap, no mess. A major step toward pasta IFR. As you walk up and down the grocery store aisles, keep your eyes open to see all the TRIZ examples. Upside down catsup bottles using gravity (free resource), frozen food cabinets with lights that come on only when someone is close by (separation in time/upon condition--why pay for electricity if no one needs to see?), coupons that come to your phone based on what you purchased the last time (IFR, resource use), seasonal display of food products; meat price reductions close to expiration dates (separation in time/upon condition), and on and on and on.

TRIZ does not apply just to complicated engineering equipment, but to things that affect our daily lives, and these examples make it easier to explain to others the basic concepts within the TRIZ tool kit and algorithm.
Author: Jack Hipple
Category(s): Manufacturing; Product Design
Industry or Science: : Food Products
Ah Ha! Moment: What is Deconfliction?
Many of you may have seen Secretary of State John Kerry, in a press conference last week with his Russian counterpart discussing the avoidance of military conflict in Syria, saying that "they were working on methods of "deconfliction". I watched this is real time, assumed what I thought the word meant, and asked myself, why didn't he just say "keep the planes from running into each other?" Now in the case of American and Russian planes in the same air space over Syria, it gets a bit more complicated, as maybe both countries have a mission and don't want to accidentally bump into each other and have an international incident break out. OK, let's put our TRIZ hats on and analyze this.

If you do a web search using the word "deconfliction", you will see three things. First the definition, "the acting of deconflicting" (did that help much?). Then you will see that the use of this word is almost entirely within the framework of military and law enforcement. Rather like "contradictions" to a TRIZ person. Then you will see a total of 210,000 hits. Take a look at one of the first page links: where you will see a national conference on this topic where deconfliction is defined as "event deconfliction is the process of determining when law enforcement personnel are conducting an event in close proximity to one another at the same time. Events include law enforcement actions, such as undercover operations, surveillance, and executing search warrants. When certain elements (e.g., time, date, location) are matched between two or more events, a conflict results. Immediate notification is made to the affected agencies or personnel regarding the identified conflict. The headline for this conference brags about "The Regional Information Sharing Systems® (RISS) and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTAs) are proud to announce the integration of the three nationally recognized event deconfliction systems: Case Explorer, SAFETNet*, and RISSafe. More acronyms.

If you type "avoid conflict" or "prevent conflict" into a web browser, you will get 6-7,000,000 hits regarding numerous ways in which this is accomplished in many non-law enforcement and non-military situations (marriage counseling, anyone?). Even better, if you type in stop fighting you get 12,000,000 hits and even better than that, avoid fighting, you see 26,000,000 hits. And the crown jewel is the one where you use the words you would use to describe "deconflilction" to a ten year old, "not run into each other accidentally", and see 114,000,000 hits!! At this web search you will see some very interesting items regarding soccer players not running into each other, avoiding people you don't want to meet (such as ex-spouses), and numerous videos including some on train collisions that almost happened and bulls not running into each other.

It makes me wonder if any of these highly paid politicians have attended any meetings where these other topics are discussed and real life answers presented. Another point worth mentioning is that the editor used in this submission has no clue what the word "deconfliction" means and has underlined it each time. We use special words and terms when we want to seem special; when we want to reinforce our ego; when we want to make it seem that the problem we have is really hard to solve and that no one could have ever solved it before. Those of us in the TRIZ community know this is almost never the case.
Author: Jack Hipple
Category(s): Management
Industry or Science: : Problem definition
Ah Ha! Moment: Parallel Universes--Why Can't We See Them?
As all of us know, at its roots, TRIZ is a methodology of applying universal problem solving principles to any problem situation. What constantly amazes me is how closed minded people are as to how "unique" their problem is. Two examples to share that were "aha" reinforcements for me. Two years ago, I was on a flight out of Houston going to the Mexican TRIZ Association meeting and just happened to glance at the back cover of the Continental Airlines magazine advertising the Pumps and Pipes Symposium, jointly sponsored by the Baylor University medical school and Exxon Mobil. This was the first conference of its type where heart surgeons and medical professionals and oil and gas companies were getting together to talk about fluid flow in pipes. Recall that the first open heart surgery in the US was done in Houston over 50 years ago and Houston is the center of the US oil and gas industry. They have now discovered, after being a few blocks away from each other in the same city for 50 years, that concepts such as Reynolds number, friction factor, Bernoulli equations, etc. are the same in both industries and maybe there is value in talking. As a chemical engineer by profession and appreciating these basic concepts well, I thought to myself--what if they had started talking to each other 50 years ago? How would these industries have progressed? What would they have learned from each other that would have produced fewer deaths and more oil and gas? Why didn't they see the commonality before? Incidentally, this pump and pipes symposium is now also being held in Europe as well!

And then there is a similar story about the development of slowly degrading heart stents by Abbott to combat the problem of tissue growing over stents, eventually coating them to the point where a second surgery is required. What polymer are they using? The same basic polymer that has been used in biodegradable garbage bags for many years. Can't you just hear the Abbott researcher asking their management for permission to go a meeting on plastics for garbage bags?

Ego is a huge barrier to innovation and is at the heart of resistance to trying or using TRIZ in a serious way.
Author: Jack Hipple
Category(s): Manufacturing; Product Design
Industry or Science: : Heart surgery, oil and gas, and garbage bags
Ah Ha! Moment: Evolution

There have been many AhHa! Moments in my years of working with TRIZ. My first AhHa Moment was that when I discovered TRIZ. The Lines of Evolution were very impactful to making sense of how civilization has moved from the Stone Age to the 21st century.

The concepts and tools of TRIZ, in any shape or form, were never taught in one of the best engineering colleges or during post graduate work. Of course, when I went to college, TRIZ had not yet been introduced into the US.

But today, colleges and universities are still in the dark about TRIZ and its potential. It makes me angry that our educational system is not capable of recognizing the importance of TRIZ as a viable elective course for everyone. Educators should be able to understand how important it is that all people understand how our world technologically has developed and is advancing forward at an ever faster pace.

Author: Richard Langevin
Category(s): Manufacturing; Product Design
Industry or Science: :
Ah Ha! Moment: Recommended Reading

Two of the best references on TRIZ are "And Suddenly the Inventor Appeared" and "40 Principles" both of these are written by Genrich Altshuller and available through the web site. These books were written in a playful and easy to understand manner and yet were very profound. They provided my Ah ha moment upon completion. They made me realize that there was something in TRIZ that can be very enlightening and helpful in my work or in my private life.

An example of Altshuller's inventive principle: Do it in reverse was spraying water into the air for aeration instead of pumping air into water. This made me realize how unaware I was of unused resources right around me.  With many of us growing up in high rise apartments instead of farms, our awareness of resources is less worldly.  TRIZ can improve this awareness and provide valuable tools to solve every day problems in an efficient and optimal way.  I encourage everyone to expose themselves to the utility of TRIZ by starting with these references.

Author: Don Coates
Category(s): Manufacturing; Management; Product Design
Industry or Science: :

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