TRIZ (pronounced /ˈtriːz/) is a romanized acronym for Russian: Теория решения изобретательских задач (Teoriya Resheniya Izobretatelskikh Zadatch) meaning "The theory of solving inventor's problems" or "The theory of inventor's problem solving". It was developed by a Soviet engineer and researcher Genrich Altshuller and his colleagues starting in 1946. It has been evolving ever since.
Today, TRIZ is a methodology, tool set, knowledge base, and model-based technology for generating innovative ideas and solutions for problem solving. TRIZ provides tools and methods for use in problem formulation, system analysis, failure analysis, and patterns of system evolution (both 'as-is' and 'could be'). TRIZ, in contrast to techniques such as brainstorming (which is based on random idea generation), aims to create an algorithmic approach to the invention of new systems, and the refinement of old systems.
Some TRIZ is in the public domain. Some TRIZ resides in knowledge bases held by commercial consulting organizations. A complete and open TRIZ development process is not yet evident. Various camps vie for control of TRIZ and interpretation of its findings and applications.
Since childhood, Altshuller showed his talents as an inventor. When he was just 15 years old he received his first certificate of the authorship of invention for an underwater apparatus. In 1946, at the age of 20, Altshuller developed his first mature invention - a method for escaping from an immobilized submarine without diving gear. In the late 1940s he worked in the "Inventions Inspection" department of the Caspian Sea flotilla of the Soviet Navy in Baku. Altshuller's job was to inspect invention proposals, help document them, and help others to invent. By 1969 he reviewed about 40,000 patent abstracts in order to find out in what way the innovation had taken place. He eventually developed 40 Principles of Invention, several Laws of Technical Systems Evolution, the concepts of technical and physical contradictions that creative inventions resolve, the concept of Ideality of a system and numerous other theoretical and practical approaches; together, this extensive work represents a unique contribution to the development of creativity and inventive problem-solving.
By examining a large database of his own and other people's inventions, Altshuller soon arrived at his most important observation:
To develop a method for inventing, he argued, one must scan a large number of inventions, identify the contradictions underlying them, and formulate the principle used by the inventor for their removal.
His results are being applied to solve creative invention problems not just within all branches of engineering, but within many other technical and non-technical fields as well.
The effectiveness of TRIZ is in dispute in many Engineering circles. Claims by some inventors that they arrived at their inventions with the help of TRIZ cannot be independently verified. Very often managers try to introduce TRIZ into their organizations in order to not be blamed for failures (a kind of "due diligence" and a means of preventing such accusations as "why have you not used TRIZ ?")
Frequently, TRIZ is also sold to people outside of engineering disciplines as a way to 'produce' creativity in any field of human activity without any grounds for that and ignoring the fact that traditionally TRIZ has grown up in the domain of engineering.
According to commercial promoters of TRIZ, as a collage of concepts and tools TRIZ has been employed by many Fortune 500 companies in the United States and other countries to solve manufacturing problems and create new products. These promoters claim that companies such as BAE Systems, CSC, Procter & Gamble, Ford Motor Company, Boeing, Philips Semiconductors, Samsung, LG Electronics, and many others have used TRIZ concepts to systematically solve complex technical and organizational problems. They also claim that the use of TRIZ has been expanding into other areas, and that TRIZ has been used successfully in biomedical research, medicine, computer programming, business management, etc. These claims have not been independently confirmed.
ARIZ consists of a program (sequence of actions) for the exposure and solution of contradictions, i.е. the solution of problems. ARIZ includes: the program itself, information safeguards supplied by the knowledge base (shown by an arrow in fig.1.1), and methods for the control of psychological factors, which are a component part of the methods for developing a creative imagination. Furthermore, sections of ARIZ are predetermined for the selection of problems and the evaluation of the received solution.
Su-Field Analysis (structural substance-field analysis) produces a structural model of the initial technological system, exposes its characteristics, and with the help of special laws, transforms the model of the problem. Through this transformation the structure of the solution that eliminates the shortcomings of the initial problem is revealed. Su-Field Analysis is a special language of formulas with which it is possible to easily describe any technological system in terms of a specific (structural) model. A model produced in this manner is transformed according to special laws and regularities, thereby revealing the structural solution of the problem.
Classification of a system of standard solutions for inventive problems, as well as the standards themselves, is built on the basis of Su-Field Analysis of technological systems. Su-Field Analysis is also a component part of the program ARIZ (shown by arrows in fig. 1).
The use of different elements of TRIZ for specific functions are shown in Table 1: "Functions and Structure of TRIZ." A system of laws for the development of technology, a system of standards for the solution of inventive problems, and Su-Field Analysis are used to forecast the development of technology, to search for and select problems, and to evaluate the received solution. For the development of a creative imagination, all elements of TRIZ can be used, although particular stress is given to methods for developing a creative imagination. The solution of inventive problems is realized with the help of laws for the development of technological systems, the knowledge base, Su-Field Analysis, ARIZ, and, in part, with the help of methods for the development of a creative imagination.
By means of TRIZ, both known and unknown types of problems could be solved. Known (standard) types of inventive problems are solved with the use of the knowledge base, and unknown (nonstandard) – with the use of АRIZ. As experience grows, solutions for a class of know types of problems increase and exhibit a structure.
At the present time, computer programs have been developed on the basis of TRIZ that try to provide intellectual assistance to engineers and inventors during the solution of technological problems. These programs also try to reveal and forecast emergency situations and undesirable occurrences.
Altshuller believed that inventive problems stem from contradictions (one of the basic TRIZ concepts) between two or more elements, such as, "If we want more acceleration, we need a larger engine; but that will increase the cost of the car," that is, more of something desirable also brings more of something less desirable, or less of something else also desirable.
These are called Technical Contradictions by Altshuller. He also defined so-called physical or inherent contradictions: More of one thing and less of the same thing may both be desired in the same system. For instance, a higher temperature may be needed to melt a compound more rapidly, but a lower temperature may be needed to achieve a homogeneous mixture.
An inventive situation might involve several such contradictions. The inventor typically trades one contradictory parameter for another; no special inventiveness is needed for that. Rather, the inventor would develop some creative approach for resolving the contradiction, such as inventing an engine that produces more acceleration without increasing the cost of the engine.
Altshuller screened patents in order to find out what kind of contradictions were resolved or dissolved by the invention and the way this had been achieved. From this he developed a set of 40 inventive principles and later a Matrix of Contradictions. Rows of the matrix indicate the 39 system features that one typically wants to improve, such as speed, weight, accuracy of measurement and so on. Columns refer to typical undesired results. Each matrix cell points to principles that have been most frequently used in patents in order to resolve the contradiction.
For instance, Dolgashev mentions the following contradiction: Increasing accuracy of measurement of machined balls while avoiding the use of expensive microscopes and elaborate control equipment. The matrix cell in row "accuracy of measurement" and column "complexity of control" points to several principles, among them the Copying Principle, which states, "Use a simple and inexpensive optical copy with a suitable scale instead of an object that is complex, expensive, fragile or inconvenient to operate." From this general invention principle, the following idea might solve the problem: Taking a high-resolution image of the machined ball. A screen with a grid might provide the required measurement.
Altshuller also studied the way technical systems have been developed and improved over time. From this, he discovered several trends (so called Laws of Technical Systems Evolution) that help engineers predict what the most likely improvements that can be made to a given product are. The most important of these laws involves the ideality of a system.
One more technique that is frequently used by inventors involves the analysis of substances, fields and other resources that are currently not being used and that can be found within the system or nearby. TRIZ uses non-standard definitions for substances and fields. Altshuller developed methods to analyze resources; several of his invention principles involve the use of different substances and fields that help resolve contradictions and increase ideality of a technical system. For instance, videotext systems used television signals to transfer data, by taking advantage of the small time segments between TV frames in the signals.
ARIZ (Russian acronym of Алгоритм решения изобретательских задач - АРИЗ) - Algorithm of Inventive Problems Solving - is a list of about 85 step-by-step procedures to solve complicated invention problems, where other tools of TRIZ alone (Su-field analysis, 40 inventive principles, etc.) are not sufficient.
Various TRIZ software (see Invention Machine, Ideation International...) are based on this algorithm (or an improved one).
Starting with an updated matrix of contradictions, semantic analysis, subcategories of inventive principles and lists of scientific effects, some new interactive applications are other attempts to simplify the problem formulation phase and the transition from a generic problem to a whole set of specific solutions.
(see External links for details)
There are several other approaches that purportedly help develop inventive power.
In the last year of his life Altshuller established a two-level form of certification:
Some of the TRIZ-masters interpreted their title as a confirmation of their outstanding contribution to TRIZ, whereas others claimed that it was not exactly Altshuler's intent.(rus) The latter claim is based on the fact that the original list of masters  did not include the well known outstanding contributors to TRIZ such as his wife Valentina Zuravliova, the co-author of SuField Analysis, Irina Flikstein and many others simply because they had not been teaching TRIZ and thus required no certification.
After Altshuller's death some of TRIZ masters started promoting the first interpretation of the title and claiming to be heirs to TRIZ with a right to pass their diploma to their disciples (possibly saving an overall number of masters) and even claiming their entitlement to financial support from International Association of TRIZ (V. V. Mitrofanov is the most outspoken representative of such claimants (rus).) Others considered these claims as a devaluation and discreditation of the TRIZ-master title.
To counter the inflation of a prestige of the TRIZ-master title and to foster the real TRIZ research, Anti TRIZ-Journal established the Altshuller Prize for outstanding contribution to TRIZ in 2006. The Altshuller Prize winners for 2007 were Mr. Perelstein and Mr. V. Gutnik. The Altshuller Prize winners for 2008 were Ms. Irina Flikstein and Mr. Yuri Khotimlyanski.