A review of TRIZ, and its benefits and challenges in practice
TRIZ (the theory of inventive problem solving) has been promoted by several enthusiasts as a systematic methodology or toolkit that provides a logical approach to developing creativity for innovation and inventive problem solving. The methodology, which emerged from Russia in the 1960s, has spread to over 35 countries across the world. It is now being taught in several universities and it has been applied by a number of global organisations who have found it particularly useful for spurring new product development. However, while its popularity and attractiveness appear to be on a steady increase, there are practical issues which make the use of TRIZ in practice particularly challenging. These practical difficulties have largely been neglected by TRIZ literature. This paper takes a step away from conventional TRIZ literature, by exploring not just the benefits associated with TRIZ knowledge, but the challenges associated with its acquisition and application based on practical experience. Through a survey, first-hand information is collected from people who have tried (successfully and unsuccessfully) to understand and apply the methodology. The challenges recorded cut across a number of issues, ranging from the complex nature of the methodology to underlying organisational and cultural issues which hinder its understanding and application. Another contribution of this paper, potentially useful for TRIZ beginners, is the indication of what tools among the several contained in the TRIZ toolkit would be most useful to learn first, based on their observed degree of usage by the survey respondents.