One of the founding ideas behind TRIZ is to solve problems without compromise and deliver all the benefits while minimising any harms.
We recently heard the story of a major soft drink company surveying its customers on the level of sugar they preferred in their fizzy drink. The results were in, they averaged the preferences and trialled a new half-sugar product which no-one liked. If they had plotted the data on a simple graph they would have seen two distinct preferences. The solution (excuse the pun) was to sell two very different products, high sugar and low sugar, which we see on the shelves today.
TRIZ calls this ‘separating on condition‘ and it is a pattern regularly seen in innovative patents.
BREXIT is an almost identical problem conceptually. The preferences of the public are remain and leave but the averaged solution currently being debated in parliament is a compromise that meets neither side.
So how do we separate on condition and solve both groups?
Before I take the unusual step of telling you what I think might work I will give you a few TRIZ triggers.
Separating on condition
“When we can’t separate in time or space then we need to see how we can separate on condition when we need to separate opposite solutions in the same place and at the same time. One solution for one element; the opposite for another”. (Karen Gadd – TRIZ for engineers)
Separate on condition: these are the suggested inventive principles which most often resolve problems of this type [my initial thoughts in brackets]
28. Replace mechanical system [eg. a switchable virtual system like energy provision]
29. Pneumatics and hydraulics [eg. nothing springs out for me here]
31. Porous materials [eg. existing channels at ports and airports ]
32. Colour changes [eg. blue passport UK, red for EU]
35. Parameter change [eg. Tax, EU contribution, subsidy, welfare parameters on personal record]
36. Phase transition [eg. individuals able to move at any time from remain to leave and visa versa]
Our passport/nationality systems can already separate individuals on condition in the UK. Our tax and welfare system similarly.
Therefore allow leavers to leave and remainers to stay. The EU is only an abstract concept anyway when it comes to individuals.
This is another key concept in TRIZ – looking at the problem at different scales eg Country, organisation, individual.
Remainers would still contribute to EU funds and receive travel benefits and subsidies etc. Leavers would pay nothing and be free to negotiate terms with other virtual bodies.
The benefits of this switch from UK membership to individual personal membership of the EU could be huge:
The country would no longer be divided, we could live in harmony as we do with supporters of Everton and Liverpool living in the same house. The young generation could decide their future for themselves.
There would be no need for a big break. away at the end of March. Once the ‘EU deduction from income’ system is applied we would individually be either in or out. Switching between providers would be as simple as moving to British Gas. You might have to pay a transition fee to cover administration costs.
An additional benefit would be that each side would strive to deliver and demonstrate their benefits to attract more followers and the overall UK economy would improve as a result.
A CEO could decide whether a company is in or out so Wetherspoons could leave and a local micro-pub remain and the taxes, subsidies could be different.
Membership of the EU is very different for individuals. For some it is critically important for others trivial and burdensome. We should deal with it differently from ‘all in or all out’. We don’t do this for religion, diet, politics, music, hair length, employment etc
I won’t solve every separate issue because the solutions should be contextual to, and therefore owned by, those solving the problem. I will however offer my services to facilitate any group or groups (are you reading this Mrs May?) through a TRIZ BREXIT workshop and show them how to resolve all the contradictions and deliver all the benefits with none of the harms.
For more on TRIZ and our training and problem solving workshops see our Oxford Creativity website.