Soft Side of TRIZ - Public
After reading Valery Kraev's year of articles giving a basic foundation for TRIZ and how it can be used for problem solving and technology planning challenges, it's a little humbling to follow such an outstanding summary. Richard Langevin, knowing of my particular interest in applying TRIZ in the organizational, business, and the "soft" business/people side of problem solving, asked if I would write a column similar to Valery's, but with a focus on these types of applications as well as share some advice and case studies. As someone who has used and is certified in several psychological assessment techniques, the people side of problem solving has always fascinated me, especially in the context of a rigorous toolkit such as TRIZ. With Valery's substantive foundation, as well as what you have learned from your own readings and problem solving, I'd like to stretch your brain a little in how you might apply these principles outside the technical problem solving arena where TRIZ is traditionally been practiced. The continuing growth of different lists of 40 principles applied to different areas, all the way from software, to chemistry and architecture demonstrates the fundamental viability of TRIZ in almost any field of endeavor.
Lesson 1: The Complications of the "Soft" Side of the Ideal Final Result
When we are doing TRIZ problem solving, one of the first things we do (after we have defined the right problem area, zone of conflict, etc.), is ask ourselves, "What is the Ideal Final Result?" We frequently refer to this as the IFR or simply ideality. Let's take a look at a problem such as "how to do a known surgical procedure". This answer might be fairly straightforward, but great surgeons of the world will argue about whether the surgery needs to be done at all, the timing of it, the potential consequences, and the details of the procedure itself. All of these are variations on what a particular surgeon considers "ideal". The ideal result could mean no surgery at all because of the potential consequences. It could mean to do it at a particular time so as to avoid potential consequences with future plans, either personal or medical. Ideal could mean a chance to try an exploratory surgery that a surgeon has wanted to do for a long time.
Lesson 2: Whose "9-BOX" is it?
Last month we discussed how using TRIZ in management and organizational problem solving can be a bit more complicated because the definition of the "ideal" result can become complicated by the views of different people and their motives and incentives. In TRIZ, in addition to the concept of the Ideal Final Result, we also consider the concept of sub-system and super-system related to our problem. TRIZ principles teach us that super-systems absorb their sub-systems over time. Let's consider these concepts in a management and organizational context, again using a medical system as our model.
Lesson 4: Contradictions - Do We See Them All?
If Bill Gates had done some thinking a while back, what might he have done with his TRIZ resources hat on and his simple 9-Box in front of him (and no Harvard MBA!)?
First, he might be alert to the mass customization of software through the resources of the Web, a resource available not just to Microsoft customers, but to everyone. Might he have made more money by knowing this and licensing the use of Microsoft office by the minute, by the document? Would he have realized sooner that is was possible for anyone to create software code using input from everyone, not just his programmers? Would he have recognized that the web allows anyone to have a PC without having a PC? Interesting questions and you can see Microsoft struggling with these issues and making acquisitions to assist it in new business models that don't look anything like their present one. Hope you also did this analysis for your own job as I suggested.
Lesson 3: Looking for Resources in the Soft World
The last two months we have discussed the difference in using TRIZ principles of ideality and system analysis in the management and organizational area. We have seen that differences in perspective can challenge our conventional "one view" of what the ideal final result (IFR) and the differences in viewing a sub-system/super-system diagram. We left you with two challenges to consider. Let's now take a look at how, in the organizational and management area, how our view of resources can also dramatically affect how we use TRIZ thinking. Let's consider the hospital/medical treatment system analysis we started last month. Here's one summary view of the system analysis that we presented last month...
Lesson 5: Contradictions - Are They "Hard" or "Soft"?
Last month we left you with some problems relating to contradiction analysis. Let's take a look at them from several different levels. First I asked you to think about your own job and its contradictions. Let's look at mine! Since I don't work for a company in the traditional sense, the question I asked you regarding contradiction conflicts between your view and your employer's view may not be relevant, but everyone has a boss. So in my context, let's consider my wife as the boss who wishes I brought home more money to allow her mother to spend more time with us (ouch!)