In my previous post, I have clarified how TRIZ for business is different from TRIZ for technical systems. Here, I’ll elaborate on what are the major differences between the two.
The major difference is in the Contradiction Matrix (CM). As you know, the CM matrix is a spread sheet which lists out certain features THAT are found in any product. Based on which feature of your product is bothering you, you get localised to one of the many cells of the spreadsheet. In that cell, you find a magic number which corresponds to a principle of TRIZ. Applying that principle will help you with what in your product is bothering you.
As you see, the real worth of a CM spreadsheet lies in how well two aspects of it relate to the actual world – the features and the principles. If either of these two do not reflect the real world, the CM is worthless.
The original CM prepared by Altshuller had 39 features and 40 principles. He had based it from his lifelong study of technical patents. No wonder the features were like this – weight of moving object, speed, force, loss of energy etc. The principles, on the other hand were a summary of strategies that the numerous inventors had used to solve the technical problems. The principles were like this – segmentation, local quality, nested doll, beforehand cushioning etc. In addition to listing out the 39 features and the 40 principles, Altshuller also explained what he meant by each of these 39 and 40. He also provided illustrations of each.
Now something about how the Systematic Innovation (SI) people customized the technical CM of Altshuller to the specific needs of the non-technical world i.e. of entrepreneurs and business managers.
The SI people realized that the 39 features of the technical CM can not be gainfully exported to the business world. How do you explain a business issue in terms of weight of moving object, speed, force, loss of energy etc? After years of research, the SI team found out that all business, indeed all social interaction, revolved around 9 sets of features – design, production, supply, support, customer, systems, intangibles, measure and harm. Each of these 9 groups can be further granulated. E.g. the Production group can be further broken down in production capability, production cost, production time, production risk and production interfaces. Similarly, the Intangible group can be further broken down into autonomy, belonging, competence, sense of progress, positive intangibles, negative intangibles, trust, engagement and meaning. As you’ll see, these features are a truer reflection of the world of business, just as features viz. weight of moving object, speed, force etc were true for the technical world.
Hence, the CM of Systematic Innovation (SI), the one that relates to business, has different features than the features of the CM of Altshuller.
And what about the second main aspect of a CM i.e. principles? You’ll recollect that the CM by Altshuller had 40 principles viz segmentation, local quality, nested doll, beforehand cushioning etc.
Here the SI people have retained the same 40 principles. So, how is it so that they’ve created a completely new set of features but not changed the principles?
That is so because the features reflect the product or the working environment. The product in the technical world relies on rules of hard sciences (physics, chemistry), while the product or working environment in the non-technical world, (the business itself), relies on principles of system design, sociology and group dynamics. Hence, it is right that the features of both must be different.
However, the principles reflect the working of the mind of people who have created breakthrough solutions, either in the technical world or the business world.
Minds of people are the same, in both worlds. Hence, the principles in the CM of the SI team are the same as those of Altshuller.
However, you can’t directly take a principle from a book of technical TRIZ and apply it to the non-technical world, even though the principles remain the same in both.
That is so because the 40 principles are just broad groupings of numerous actions done by inventors. What is important to the person using the CM is the illustrations that explain each principle. The principle of segmentation in the technical CM is illustrated thus – multiple pistons in an IC engine, rapid release and quick disconnect joints, multiple control surfaces etc. However, the same principle (segmentation), in the non-technical world is illustrated in terms of business solution e.g. market segmentation by demographics/sociographic/lifestyles, SWOT analysis, mass customization, Kano diagram etc
Thus, the CM of the SI team, the one used in Business matrix 3.0, is specifically designed to meet the needs of any who deals in an environment that relies on customers, followers, market pressures, uncertainty, complexity etc.
Don’t use the wrong tool. Also, don’t work under the belief that TRIZ is only for the technical world.