Using Creative Thinking Every Day to Solve Problems

Who has heard of the acronym TRIZ?  Until a few months ago, it would have meant nothing to me except as four nicely arranged capital letters.  Honestly I still don’t know what the terminology of the acronym is because it is derived from a Russian phrase meaning “Theory of Solving Inventor’s Problems.”  I do, however, have a basic understanding of the principles of TRIZ and how to apply them.  TRIZ is a bunch of principles that can be used to solve any problem that you may encounter.  This applies to work, home, play, or anywhere else.  TRIZ was developed by G.S. Altshuller, a Russian, as a means to solve problems.  There are 40 TRIZ principles that can help you out.  You can Google TRIZ to find out more about TRIZ and its uses.  For now, I am going to relate a recent example where we have used the principles of TRIZ.

We are currently in the design phase on a fairly large machine.  Space and cost are issues with this project.  The machine will be building parts that have a very defined manufacturing process with many steps.  For us, we have mimicked the original process as best as we could.  Our machine started out with 3 dial tables, with each one costing a sizeable chunk of cash.  After laying out the machine and realizing that we had many open stations, we decided to change the order of operations, cleared this with our customer, and placed a particular operation up closer to the front of the process.  This allowed us to remove a dial table from the machine saving us some much-needed real estate, and a bunch of money.

These principles have become a part of our culture here at Setpoint.  I am quite certain that when this decision was made we were not intentionally applying a TRIZ principle, even though we did.  The principle we applied was Merging.  We took a similar process and placed them side-by-side.

There are many more examples of where we solved a problem by applying a TRIZ principle on this project.  What we have learned is if you get to a place where you are stuck, pull up the TRIZ principles on the net and go through them one by one and see if one of them will help solve your problem.