Solving inventor’s problems

Broadening my field a little, into problem solving in the engineering domain, I am embarking on a new and rather exciting adventure working part time as a trainer/consultant for Oxford Creativity I first met Karen and Lilly who run Oxford Creativity at a conference a few years ago and after a two day basic training course discovered an amazingly simple yet systematic approach to problem solving called TRIZ (which is Russian for “The theory of solving inventor’s problems”). Their website explains what it is  better than I ever could.

Essentially it was a Russian scientist named Genrich Altshuller who, while imprisoned in a labour camp by Stalin, did an analysis of all existing patents in order to identify the trends in which inventions have improved and derive a complete grid of all possible improvements and ‘contradicting requirements’.

Once trained in TRIZ ( by Oxford Creativity of course) engineers can then solve any problem using a series of techniques and grids. Solutions derived in this way may have come from other fields of study eg biochemistry or food manufacture but follow similar developmental improvements.

I see this approach as complimentary to that of Cognitive Edge in that this is designed for the Complicated domain – where there are solutions but it takes a while to find them. In this case TRIZ enables the engineer to identify all the potential solutions by following a systematic approach, without the need for bringing in experts.

Another very exciting aspect is that all the suggested solutions and trends can be used metaphorically in other contexts such as business improvement and change management.

Well, tomorrow I am off to the wonderful Leighton Hall in North Lancashire for the advanced TRIZ training course. So watch for me on Dragons Den shortly with new ideas on how to cook a badger.

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