What is TRIZ Matrix and How to Use it ?

TRIZ Matrix is a technique developed by Russian scientists to formalise the process of innovations. TRIZ is a Russian Acronym for Theory of Inventive Problem Solving. The English acronym is TIPS and is often used to refer to the same analysis. The TRIZ is a powerful tool that helps brings the insight of years of technological development to your Six Sigma project. It is for this reason that mega corporations worldwide rely on TRIZ Matrix to provide them with the solutions to the process problems that they face.

How it was developed ?

A Russian scientist started a study whose purpose was to evaluate the patents filed worldwide to see if there were any patterns. He discovered that there were indeed patterns that followed across industry. At different times, different industries had gone through the same technological cycle. It was found that there is remarkable similarity in the order that the patents were filed as well as the principles that were underlying these patents.

The Russian scientist documented all his findings and created the TRIZ matrix.

TRIZ Matrix Basics

In TRIZ Matrix terminology a problem is often called a contradiction. This is because the Russian scientist had found off that improving the product one one aspect leads to its deterioration in another aspect. Let’s assume that we improve the speed of a car by fitting a bigger engine, the mileage would take a hit. This creates a “contradiction”. The challenge that TRIZ addresses is how to get more of one feature without deteriorating the performance of other features. The Russian scientists found out that was at the core of all patents that were being filed. He also found that most of the “contradictions” faced by different industries are the same. For example: cost vs speed, accuracy vs speed etc.

Since the contradictions are more or less similar across the industries, so are their solutions. The makers of the TRIZ matrix documented their solutions in what is called the 40 inventive principles of problem solving.

When is the TRIZ Matrix Applied and How ?

The TRIZ matrix is applied to generate alternative solutions. The TRIZ is a systematic way to think about issues and get a hint about the most plausible solutions. These solutions are highly plausible because many of these solutions have been successfully implemented in the past and are therefore tried and tested with time.

With the help of the TRIZ Matrix, one can first develop multiple solutions. This will help with the rational process of evaluating all the possible solutions and then coming up with the most feasible one.

Using A TRIZ Matrix

The TRIZ matrix is at the heart of the TRIZ problem solving methodology. Therefore before we begin understanding the specific steps that apply to the TRIZ method, it is essential that we understand the logic behind those steps i.e. the TRIZ problem solving methodology.

TRIZ Problem Solving Methodology

The TRIZ method believes that all technological innovations that have occurred in different industries have been based on a set of “inventive principles”. TRIZ method states that every specific problem that an organization faces can be reduced to a general problem that has been faced before. This general problem then has a general solution based on one of the 40 inventive principles that the matrix contains.

Thus, the use of the matrix suggests the general solution. This general solution can then be used to come up with a specific solution to the specific problem that the organization is facing. The terminology can be confusing and hence an example in this scenario would be helpful.

Example: An organization faces an issue

  1. Identify Contradiction: The TRIZ method believes that for something that an organization wants to gain, it has to sacrifice something. This is what is called a contradiction in TRIZ jargon. For instance, if you want to build a faster engine, you lose fuel efficiency. This contradiction is the general problem that an organization faces and must be used as an input to the TRIZ matrix.

  2. Determine Improvement and Degradation: The next step would be to explicitly state the trade-off. In the above case one can look at speed as the improvement parameter while fuel efficiency as the parameter which must not be degraded.

  3. Design Parameters: The TRIZ matrix uses the above information as input. It will then cross verify similar problems that have been faced in the past. Then it will give a general solution an output. This solution could be something like using a lighter metal to build the vehicle, so that the weight of the vehicle is reduced and speed is increased without losing fuel efficiency.

  4. Examine Proposed Principle: One needs to understand that the TRIZ method is like an advisor. It proposes solutions. However the final decision whether the proposed solution must be implemented or not lies in the hands of the managers. For instance, in the above example using a lighter metal could compromise the safety of the vehicle being used. The management must then take a call whether this is the correct solution.

  5. Select Best Principle: The TRIZ usually gives more than one inventive solution to the problem. This solution is usually in the form of general solution. The TRIZ matrix is popular because it allows organizations to create alternative solutions before they actually decide to implement the best one.

  6. Apply Inventive Principle: Each proposed general solution must then be converted into a specific solution for the problem at hand. Thus at the end of TRIZ exercise, the management has multiple solutions which it can then provide as an input to the decision making process.

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