In the 1970s, the United States and the Soviet Union fiercely competed in the area of moon exploration. Unable to afford the costs of an APOLLO like project for landing astronauts on the moon, the Soviet Union decided to launch an unmanned lunar probe to deliver an autonomous vehicle to the dark side of the moon’s surface. The vehicle was to transmit TV pictures of that not-yet seen side to earth. The incandescent light bulb was found to be the best light source; however existing light bulbs would not have survived the impact of landing on the lunar surface. Even the most durable bulbs, those used in military tanks, cracked at the joint between the glass and the socket during test. There was not a single way out. It was a dead end.
This dead end situation is not new. Such a dead end situation is always been seen in all the industries where the project teams have carried out huge research but they could not go beyond certain limits of thinking the solutions. In these situations, the process is blocked and if the project team has to move forward it has to come up with out of the box creative thinking.
One way of having a creative thinking for solution generation is Brainstorming, where all the team members sit together and try to come up with different ideas depending upon their knowledge, Field, experience and intuitions. In this process many ideas are generated and are tested on trial & error basis. It is not a trustworthy technique though time consuming. There are lots of chances of missing some of the very important solutions simply because they are outside the experience of the project team.
Similar situation took place in lunar probe launching by Soviet Union. Situation seemed hopeless. The situation was reported to the director of the whole moon landing project. He analyzed the situation and said “Hey! It’s not that hopeless, I can solve this. I know TRIZ!!!!!!”
TRIZ!!!!!!? What is TRIZ?
TRIZ is a method for inventive problem solving. Triz is based on the research being done in the past and the solutions applied to solve the problems occurred so far in the industry. It draws on the past knowledge and ingenuity of many thousand engineers to accelerate the project team’s ability to solve the problems creatively. Triz is a method based on past knowledge & inventions of the industry and not on the intuitions and scope of the project team. Thus, it is more trustworthy and a key to creative thinking.
History of TRIZ
Triz is a Russian acronym for THEORY OF INVENTIVE PROBLEM SOLVING. It was invented and Developed by G.S ALTSHULLER during his tenure. He was working in a patent department as a patent analyst. He analyzed 2 million patents and found that there are only 1500 different problems which are being solved in just 40 ways. He studied those 40 ways in detail. He realized that these 40 ways can be applied to solve any problem in the world and this forms the basis of TRIZ.
What is the problem and Where TRIZ is applied
In the Soviet Union’s case, while launching the lunar probe on the moon they decided to use the incandescent bulb as a light source but they can’t use it because it will not sustain the jerk while landing.
YES! This is a problem.
Can we simplify this problem?
YES! We can.
We want to improve our picture quality but it is not possible due to sustenance power of the bulb. So, indirectly we should use the bulb to increase the picture quality but we should not use the bulb because its glass breaks while landing. Thus, we SHOULD use the bulb and we SHOLD NOT use the bulb at the same time.
We SHOULD & we SHOULD NOT at the same time is the actual Problem. This situation can be identified in each and every problem in the world. And to solve this situation we have TRIZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In TRIZ language this is termed as Contradiction. Contradictions exist in each and every problem and thus Triz can be applied to each and every problem in each and every field.
Tools of TRIZ!!!!
Triz makes use of some tools to solve the Contradiction Problems
1.TRIZ Function analysis :: This makes you understand the system in detail
2. Contradictions:: This makes you understand the area to be improved
3. 40 Principle:: This provides you the ways in which a contradiction can be solved
4. Resources:: This makes you understand how to use the environment surrounding the problem to solve the problem
5. Evolutionary Trends:: This makes you predict what should be the ideal system and what we can produce in future.
Applicability of TRIZ:
In the Soviet Union case, the director analyzed the problem in a TRIZ way and solved it using 40 principle and Resources available. He first analyzed the function of a glass bulb around the filament. “What is the function of the glass bulb?” he asked. “To create a vacuum around the filament” answered the engineer. Then analyzed the resources available and realized that there was an abundance of vacuum on the moon and they didn’t need additional glass bulb to Create a vacuum for the light emitting filament . So they removed the glass bulb and just keep the filament.
The Problem was solved!!!
Applicability of TRIZ is vast. TRIZ is spreading like bullet into corporate sector across various paths. In contemporary industries it is common in SIX SIGMA processes, in risk management and project management industries, Manufacturing, production pharmaceutical industries.
BE-Instrumentation, Graduate Engineer Trainee-Knowledge Management at SSA Business Solutions, Works in Research and Development of new products at SSA.