Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ)

(This page describes the essence of TRIZ from the perspective of its original contribution to our discovery of the Fractal Phenomenon and the development of Systemic Thinking - and doesn't even attempt to do justice to TRIZ in its entirety.  For a detailed overview of TRIZ, go to: or google "TRIZ").

TRIZ (pronounced "treez") is a methodology for deliberately and systematically solving complex problems and developing new products.  It's foundations are in the discovery made by Genrich Altshuller who, in studying patent databases in search of an invention process noticed repeating patterns within and across engineering diciplines.

It has evolved, over time into an algorithmic approach to problem-solving and product development.

Genrich AltshullerIn the mid-1940's Altshuller identified 72 generic solution patterns that are commonly used across the various engineering disciplines.  In a sense, this was saying that there have been 72 unique solutions in the history of humankind!  To give you an idea of the validity of Altshuller's orginal work, the 76th solution was ratified a few years ago.

TRIZ Contradiction MatrixAltshuller realised that these solution patterns were all breakthrough solutions to contradictions between physical properties sought.  (For example, one may want to increase the volume of something while maintaining or reducing its mass.  We have found a number of solutions to this problem, like using a lighter material or making the object hollow.)

TRIZ Process for Inventive Problem Solving

In a stroke of genius, Altshuller identified 39 properties that can be in contradiction with each other and forty principles (ways of resolving the contractions) which underlie the 76 solutions.  He developed a table that enables people to identify which of the principles have been used to solve the contradiction concerned (e.g. find the cell at the intersection of the mass column and the volume row) and see a list of the relevant principles.

This insight laid the foundation for the abstraction of th


This insight laid the foundation for the abstraction of the Creative Process for Inventive Problem Solving depicted to the left.

TRIZ has been primarily focused on developing and applying a set of algorithms (method patterns) for developing breakthrough products and solutions ever since.

Contribution to the development of Systemic Thinking

The most significant contributions made to the development of Systemic Thinking by TRIZ were:

  1. The recognition of breakthrough solutions as the resolution of a contradiction of properties required.
  2. Inventive Solution Patterns
  3. Patterns of Evolution
  4. 40 Inventive Principles
  5. The Contradiction Matrix
  6. The Creative Problem Solving Process

Click here for a simplified derivative of TRIZ developed by Roni Horowitz - ASIT: Advanced Systematic Inventive Thinking

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