SimpleTRIZ: How to search for contradictory requirements

TRIZ is a Russian acronym, translating to "theory of inventive problem solving". Development of TRIZ started in the 1940s.

Wikipedia has a good article on TRIZ: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRIZ

The idea behind TRIZ is to have a problem solving method for cases where there is no direct solution. The graphic below illustrates this:

The starting point for TRIZ is a problem that has contradicting requirements, which usually means that one has to make some kind of tradeoff.

Example: "I need to make a material that is light-weight but also strong."

The goal of TRIZ is to develop a solution that does not require a tradeoff. For our example: "make it light-weight AND strong."

In TRIZ, the path toward this goal, a solution without tradeoff, is to apply invention principles. These invention principles are lined out in a contradiction matrix, where the rows are features one would like to improve (e.g. "weight") and the columns are undesired results (e.g. "expensive", "complicated", "heavy"). Here is the original TRIZ contradiction matrix:

(for a larger version, please see https://triz-journal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Screen-Shot-2018-04-30-at-15.20.25.png)

As you can see, the matrix is interesting but quite large. Also, depending on your specific problem at hand, many of the properties in the matrix may not fit.

So we decided to simplify this process, into something we call SimpleTRIZ

Here is how SimpleTRIZ works, illustrated using our example problem, "I need to make a material that is light-weight but also strong":

(1) Search Mergeflow

Heuristics: Search for properties or functions, not for technologies. Use as-general-as-possible wording to describe properties and functions. AND-combine all properties and functions that are contradictory (e.g. “light-weight” AND “strong”). For example (click on the link to open the search in Mergeflow):

https://mergeflow.net/profiles/fw/search/summary?date=today-1825&q=%22light+weight%22+NEAR10+strong%7Clight-weight+NEAR10+strong

(2) Get ca. 7 example findings

Markets

Heuristics: look for big markets, fast-growing markets, interesting players (companies) and their markets.

For our example:

Finding 1: "low density polyethylene": https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/low-density-polyethylene-ldpe-packaging-market-forecast-to-grow-to-us27879-billion-by-2023-300607518.html

Patents

Heuristics: Look at top-7 documents in the 360° view. Use tag clouds and search terms inspired by findings to refine. Check out person-company graph (anyone there whom you recognize?).

From top-7 displayed patents:

Finding 2: Nano seamless quick-drying hair extension adhesive: https://worldwide.espacenet.com/searchResults?query=CN201910373658

Our search returned ca. 380 patent families over past 5 years. Use tag clouds to navigate.

Finding 3: Making method of metallic hollow ball grid structure sandwich plate: https://worldwide.espacenet.com/searchResults?query=CN201710534271

Finding 4: Ceramic Composite Structures and Processing Technologies: https://worldwide.espacenet.com/searchResults?query=US201715467521

Science Publications

Heuristics: Look at top-7 documents in the 360° view. Use tag clouds and search terms inspired by findings to refine. Check out person-organization graph (anyone there whom you recognize?).

Finding 5: Mechanically strong globular protein-based fibers via microfluidic spinning technique: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31873970

Technology Blogs

Heuristics: Look at top-7 documents in the 360° view. Use tag clouds, particularly the “Emerging Technologies” one.

Finding 6: Spero Renewables signs $2 million DOE agreement to advance ‘wood-based’ plastic technology - Purdue University News: https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2019/Q4/spero-renewables-signs-2-million-doe-agreement-to-advance-wood-based-plastic-technology.html

Finding 7: Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics: https://www.innovations-report.com/html/report/materials-science/plant-inspiration-could-lead-to-flexible-electronics.html

As you can see, now we have seven findings in total, from across various data sets.

(3) Iterate and zoom in

Take the findings from (2) and iterate (together with “problem owners” if this is not you), or zoom in on promising areas. Select 1-3 areas. For our example, these areas could be:

  1. Low-density polyethylene (Finding 1)
  2. Composites (Finding 4)
  3. Plant-based materials (Findings 6, 7)

In order to help you run SimpleTRIZ searches, we have prepared a checklist for you: SimpleTRIZ checklist.


Suggested further reading: How to get better search results for tech discovery


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