(April 7, 2008) — Innovation is something every company not only wants but needs. It is a key strategy for survival, not only in the plastics industry but for every organization, regardless of business sector.
I agree with Ken Robinson on his statement that the key to innovation is fostering imagination and creativity, but only as a beginning point [“Speaker offers keys to unlock creativity,” March 24, Page 16]. He is correct that most of us take imagination for granted and ignore its power.
We often hear, “They should make something that fixes that problem.” Who are “they” if it is not us? That mentality is a signal most of us believe innovation and creativity are gifts that only a select few possess.
In his saying that management can cultivate divergent thinking to find solutions to a problem, Robinson was pointing in the right direction, but failed to provide any further thought. How can management foster this? People need encouragement, but they also need tools, techniques and methods — in short they need a system for innovation.
TRIZ (pronounced trees) is such a system that people around the world are using.
In TRIZ, you take a specific problem then convert it to a generic problem. Find the generic solution, then apply it to your specific problem. Somewhere, somehow, someone has already solved your problem or one that is so similar you will be able to modify it to fit your situation.
TRIZ teaches the methodology and discipline to find those generic solutions and solve problems this way. Frequently, completely unexpected solutions are found because a central concept is to find ideal solutions. A concept called ideality.
TRIZ is the Romanized acronym of a Russian phrase that translates “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving.” It was first conceived in that country in the 1940s.
With TRIZ, we find an innovative solution that does not depend on the “innovation guy.” Now we have a method for creating solutions to problems that is not dependant on those “gifted few.” Instead, it is available to everyone. There is much more to TRIZ than the solution matrix. Much of the method teaches users to analyze the problem so it can be seen as a generic problem and how to recognize resources that can be applied to the solution.
If our industry and our companies are to survive, innovative thinking must prevail. Robinson's statements are all true and well-founded.
TRIZ is a method that will walk industries, companies, teams or individuals along a well-defined road map to breakthrough innovations.
I encourage Plastic News readers to seek out TRIZ and learn how to use this powerful tool. There are many resources available in books and on-line.
There are an emerging group of companies that provide consulting and problem-solving services based on TRIZ as well. It is a given that we must innovate.
The central question is how to innovate? TRIZ provides one solid answer that removes the mystery of being innovative and creative.
Blue Water Automotive Systems Inc.