Triz and me
A few years back I came across a method to focus creative energy to generate useful ideas called TRIZ. I was a bit sceptical then as to its real creative and innovative potential. That scepsis hasn’t entirely gone but I do have gained a much clearer picture of where TRIZ is useful over the past 6 months or so.
Valeri Souchkov is TRIZ’s strongest and most experienced proponent here in the Netherlands I think and he has booked great results for his clients using TRIZ with them. I met Valeri last November and we are, together with Colby Stuart, looking to combine our energy and experience regarding promoting innovation as a culture. Valeri invited me to a TRIZ day last week (another one is probably in June), where TRIZ was explained in more detail and most of all cases were presented.
Jacques Stevens of i|d|e partners showed us how they help solve problems and issues in their clients’ products, as well as explore what the next generation of that product is likely to be. They integrated TRIZ as a method in their toolset. Both for idea-creation as well as for testing ideas after the creation-phase, and for finding evolutionary axis along which a product can be developed further. Being an engineering firm, a pumping system, a camera mounting crane and other technological examples were presented. Good stuff from what looks like a very energetic and creative company and team.
Other examples related to branding and positioning questions from a large consulting and accounting firm, barriers in innovation networks at Chemelot, and a number of more technologically oriented problems from a Korean steel mill and Samsung.
Triz and me II
I generally belief that organizations lacking innovative potential isn’t due to the number of ideas they get. Usually their ability, or rather inability, to bring ideas to action, to package them in such a way that they can move easily through existing business processes or structures, or to see when new structures are needed and how to build them, is what keeps them back.
Being able to generate ideas quickly and effectively by focussing your creative energy on things that really matter or promise most however, frees up time, energy and other resources to then shape the path to action. And that is a very good thing. TRIZ can help you speed up your movement along the trajectory of sustaining innovation and thus keep ahead of competition. It helps in the creation, testing and filtering phase of ideas. I don’t think it will help you jump from one trajectory to the next though (from one technology S-curve to the next e.g.). But perhaps it can help you judge emergent patterns better, that might contain the seeds for a new S-curve, using it as a filtering instrument again. Innovation to my mind is a culture or attitude more than a product (as it is generally treated here in the NetherlandS), and tools like TRIZ help you build innovative thinking and tapping creativity into your processes by providing a systematic approach.
In the coming weeks I’ll reserve some time to play around with TRIZ regarding a few questions I am pondering already. Let’s see if it takes me anywhere.