TRIZ - A Scientific Approach to Invention

Invention normally involves solving technical problems and according to research carried out by Genrich Altshuller, clever solutions generally resolve a conflict.  This research involved analysing thousands of patents, which formed the basis of his Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) tools.  This research has since been updated by analysing millions of patents and the tools developed by Altshuller remain virtually unchanged.

Altshuller's research revealed that there are five levels of innovation:

Level 1 is a simple improvement of a technical system and requires knowledge available within a trade relevant to that system.

Level 2 is an invention that includes the resolution of a technical contradiction and requires knowledge from different areas within an industry relevant to the system.

Level 3 is an invention containing a resolution of a physical contradiction and requires knowledge from other industries.

Level 4 is a new technology including a breakthrough solution that requires knowledge from different fields of science.

Level 5 is a discovery of new phenomena.

According to TRIZ, there are 39 characteristics of a technical system and a technical contradiction involves a conflict between two of these characteristics, while a physical contradiction involves a conflict between the same characteristic, either at different times, at different places, under different conditions, or in different interrelated systems.

These conflicts can all be resolved by 40 inventive principles extracted from the patents analysed.  All technical systems evolve toward an ideal state and eight patterns of evolution have been observed.

For more information on the main TRIZ tools, select one of the hyperlinks below: