• Rowan Norrie


Innovation is about understanding patterns, looking how other sectors, industries, technologies have solved a particular problem and applying the new knowledge to your situation.

Once you start to understand the underlying patterns associated with innovation, you start to see innovation in situations across all aspects of your life – developing new technologies (of course), business situations, your immediate environment and stories you read in the wider world.

TRIZ, the structured approach to innovative thinking, is the perfect introduction to understanding the underlying patters. And TRIZ can even be used to solve situations that arise across all aspects of your life, including home life. It was a joke in our house that I would frequently ‘TRIZ the kids’.

An example is when my son came home one day and announced he didn’t want to learn saxophone anymore. This was a shock as he had been so very keen to start leaning this instrument, he was already playing piano and guitar. He was quite adamant that he was finished with lessons. On closer discussion, I found out that the reason was that he was being teased by other boys when carrying the case through the school to the music class.

The response might have been, well, you just have to accept that or stop lessons. However, looking to TRIZ, I used the contradiction matrix to help come up with an answer. This tool uses millions of patents to understand the generic parameters involved in innovation and to see patterns emerging over time. It then points to the most likely Inventive Principles involved. There are 40 Inventive Principles and I liken them to shining a spotlight on the most likely area where a solution will be found. It’s then a matter of brainstorming around this area ideas.

In the saxophone example, the first Inventive Principle that was highlighted was Principle 13 The Other Way Round. What if the teacher could come to my son to teach saxophone? What if they could go to a different part of the school that didn’t involve going through the main building?

Another principle was 24 Intermediary, using a temporary intermediary in the process. Immediately, I could see that one good solution was to have my daughter take the saxophone case to the music room; no-one would be teasing her for that.

Simples! TRIZ and innovation can help ALL sorts of problems and challenges!

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