Who is the president of USA? Easy, isn’t it. Next question. How can we get a tyre that works well on good roads ( smooth performance ) as well as on rough roads ( good grip)? That’s difficult, isn’t it. More importantly, answering this question does not require the same skill as answering ‘Who is the president of USA’. There, the hard drive of your knowledge brain starts spinning immediately – ‘Where is this bit of information stored?’. However, the second question calls for using a different thinking protocol altogether.
Work creates different thinking scenarios. What TRIZ tools do is to enable everyone to handle different thinking scenarios by following some standard thinking protocols. That is what makes TRIZ sooooooo useful, particularly for those who have been in the knowledge game for long.
So, what typical thinking scenarios does TRIZ empower you for? Well, here is an overly simplified set, stated mostly in terms of technical industries but one which work for non-technical domains ( marketing, managerial, HR etc ) too –
- At times, it is possible to take some action which will improve some aspect of the product/system. However, you are discouraged from taking that action because it taking it automatically results in deterioration of another aspect of that system.
- At times, you need one property in the system for some benefit. However, you also need the opposite of that property in the same system, for some other benefit. Obviously, you can’t get a property, and also its opposite, in the same system. So, you end up taking any one and letting go of the other. You can’t have two opposites, can you?
- You are getting get a desired end result from a technical system by using a particular technology/process. Now you need to find an alternative technology/process to achieve the same result, for one or more of the following reasons –
- That technology is no longer available due to you due to some IPR restrictions.
- That technology now contradicts some new part of the system and hence needs to be substituted.
- Cheaper technology is available now.
- You wish to ‘trim’ a product i.e. reduce its cost and complexity. Alternately, while designing a product ab-initio, you wish to get ideas that will give you the desired core results at minimal cost. That would give you a ‘trimmed’ product.
- The system is functioning but not adequately. One or more effects of the system are either harmful or inadequate. How to improve such a system?
- What if you could find out the direction in which your product/technology will inevitably move in near future? If you get to know this in time, you will be able to align your R&D efforts and product profile in that direction. Also, it can help you ‘audit’ your product in light of the ‘ideal’ product.
- Many a time, you rule out certain options since you believe them to be wrong. Only, later you realize that your understanding of they being wrong was based on ‘assumptions’ and an incorrect cause-effect relationship. How useful it will be to be able to surface and question these assumptions.
In the beginning, we posed the question – How can we get a tyre that works well on good roads ( smooth performance ) as well as on rough roads ( good grip). It seems to follow the first or second thinking scenario mentioned above. Smooth road performance of tyres can actually be improved even more than now but that causes deterioration of their performance on bad roads, which will also be encountered at times. In a way, we need two opposites – smooth road performance and bad road performance. Knowledge alone is ill equipped to answer that.
But wait. Are ‘smooth road performance’ and ‘bad road performance’ really opposed to each other to the extent of being mutual exclusives – or IS IT AN ASSUMPTION?
Well, it seems it is an assumption. Actually, you can have both. Goodyear has done that already. Here’s how.