Heinrich Altshuller is a scientist who had to literally conquer an audience of skeptics who believed that the creative process is absolutely impossible to predict and calculate. Moreover, to develop an algorithm for creative achievements and discoveries. Well, it turns out that at the end of the twentieth century, the public, including the scientific community, believed that a creative act is something if not given “from above”, then covered in mystery, and therefore not amenable to the influence of human consciousness.
The development of the theory of solving inventive problems by Heinrich Altshuller made it possible to take a completely different look at the creative process, avoiding time and financial losses, with the deepest attention to this amazing human resource.
What is TRIZ?
This is a theory of solving inventive problems, which helps to focus on what is needed in scientific discoveries and in ordinary life. The concept is based on an interdisciplinary approach, which was a real breakthrough for the 80s of the last century. The principles of TRIZ are as follows:
- teaching skills to overcome inertia in the thinking, consciousness and behavior of the researcher;
- rejection of compromise decisions;
- the desire to achieve the goal without loss;
- continuous self-improvement;
- use of patterns of development of a technical system;
- an algorithm for solving inventive problems;
– a table of the best techniques (which appeared as a result of the long-term study of thousands of inventions of the patent fund) and the algorithm for its use for solving inventive problems.
Altshuller sees the main task of the researcher as overcoming the contradiction – this result is interpreted as an indicator of the success and effectiveness of a particular scientific concept. That is why standard solutions, the search for a compromise – this, according to the author, is always stomping on the spot. Choosing a compromise, the researcher thereby immediately blocks a number of potentials and possibilities. However, a compromise solution does not eradicate the contradiction. The TRIZ technique is based on exacerbating the contradiction, even artificially complicating the task. And it is precisely this paradoxical method that subsequently leads to the successful resolution of goals.
TRIZ in historical aspect
How did mankind make scientific discoveries? The systematization of these various methods is given in the book of G. Altshuller. And the first of them is the notorious trial and error method for each of us. In this case, the percentage of chance is high, many assumptions are simply speculative and not supported by empiricism. Moreover, the process of technical creativity, the author of the book believes, is not just what is happening in the mind of the researcher. This is a predetermined transition of the system from one of its hypostases to another. Thanks to an understanding of the laws governing the development of a technical system, a researcher can well predict its transformations, set clear objectives, and also overcome internal psychological difficulties.
The second method is going beyond one discipline, which today, in the second decade of the 21st century, is more than justified.
The morphological method is the building of patterns in certain schemes and tables, in which the whole abundance of possible solutions and options will be concentrated. This is comparable to creating a matrix.
Brainstorming is a powerful psychological method that activates creative abilities; it has long been widely known. The basis of this method is a clear distinction between evaluation and ideas. No matter how crazy the idea may seem, it is always taken into account, and this protects the researcher from possible ridicule and misunderstanding. However, this method is applicable mainly in advertising, organizational processes, but as for technical inventions, it can hardly be considered truly effective. The rejection of possible criticisms did a disservice here: without understanding the flaws of the idea (and they always exist), it is impossible to recreate an objective view of it.
Analogies as means of a new look at the idea
To such varieties Altshuller includes:
- direct analogies – based on any objects of the surrounding world;
- personal – created by identifying oneself with an object (or its individual component);
- symbolic – through mediation by abstractions, symbols;
- fantastic – involving allegorical methods – parables, legends, fairy tales, etc.
Features of the problem statement
According to TRIZ, the task should concern only one specific problem, but then it should be pivotal, fundamental. The formulation of the problem is usually called the inventive situation within the framework of this approach.
According to Altshuller, there are so-called mini- and maxi-tasks. The former do not imply any significant change in the system, they are aimed simply at optimizing the solution, at mastering, for example, some additional function or, conversely, rejecting the function if it is redundant. The statement of the maxi-problem involves a radical change or the creation of a new technical system, naturally, with overcoming the existing contradiction. Based on the objectives, Altshuller identifies research tasks at various levels.
What are the main problems of researchers?
First of all, this is the lack of systematic thinking (or scale). Standard thinking involves operating with stable concepts: if it is, for example, a “house”, then a person imagines a house of any variation. A creative approach involves the vision of supersystems (architectural construction), the system itself (home), its subsystems (separate rooms).
The second problem voiced by Altshuller is the neglect of the law of increasing dynamism, according to which the development of technical systems takes place: “… technology is material, and its development is dialectical. From here … the decisive conclusion for the inventive methodology follows: there are objective laws for the development of technical systems, these laws can be known and used to consciously solve inventive problems without blindly searching through options.
There is also the psychological side of creativity – the fear of going beyond the limits of the stereotype, modeling of reality and the commitment of the created model.
In any case, TRIZ today is actively used not only in narrow areas – technical disciplines, it is also in demand as an example, as a successful method for new approaches to the education and training system, and also as the basis for stimulating the creative process in any industry.