When I remarked to my husband that the whole Oxford Creativity team were working very hard, his (extremely annoying!) response was "work smart not hard". After 44 years of marriage I know such infuriating comments need logical reactions, so I calmly pointed out that TRIZ delivers the ultimate world beating way of ‘working smart’.
Since Covid changed the world, the Oxford TRIZ team, working both smart and hard, have also learned how to work effectively online by making it fun and engaging. TRIZ is such a joy to us all that we aim to share this enjoyment in both our teaching and problem solving.
We all know that online interaction has its downsides but we hope we have overcome them all by applying TRIZ Trimming (to achieve the cleverest simplicity, getting the most benefits while eliminating all downsides). We try to ensure that everyone is engaged when learning TRIZ. This helps us all to reach the much greater pleasures of enhanced brain power, getting to the best answers fast, and consequently ‘working smart’ in everything we do.
Removing Distractions (Eliminating Downsides)
Our efforts to make learning as engaging as possible includes the simple TRIZ techniques of removing the snags that annoy and distract us. 'Screwtape Letters' (a famous comedic novel by CS Lewis) is about the apprenticeship training of a young devil and cites the devil’s best strategy to harm humans as distraction using annoyances and trivia.
We all know that losing concentration on important issues destroys not just learning but also our good intentions and limits our potential to achieve important and useful work. I have always been easily distracted when working on anything complicated, and it was only in middle age that TRIZ helped me get efficient, achieve focus and more quickly reach clear understanding of essential issues.
TRIZ taught me that by keeping detail in its place I could stay on track and resist wandering down the side-roads of the unessential. TRIZ logic has also helped me subdue distracting, emotional annoyances and actually understand and like people better. TRIZ has shown me that everyone is a contradiction – and to focus on the good not the bad.
Using TRIZ to Change Habits
As well as helping me appreciate the better side of everyone, TRIZ helps me deal with annoyances rather than rage at them. One professional annoyance I face a lot is when someone ignorantly dismisses TRIZ because they believe the tools and techniques they already know and love cover the same ground. Violently disagreeing and banging on about the unique power of TRIZ does not win friends or influence people or change their minds - rather the reverse.
Instead, I remind myself that this person has discovered for themselves the power of the systematic and they just need to travel further and somehow be encouraged to try the ultimate step by step and algorithmic toolkit, TRIZ. One way we do this in Oxford TRIZ is to mobilise the essential ingredients of humour, succinctness and proven success often with our signature cartoons. This gets even the most closed minded people to look at and take in at a glance the essential positive message.
TRIZ & Other Problem Solving Tools
This method helps me when I want to persuade the reluctant that more can be achieved by simply adding TRIZ to their favourite ‘problem solving ‘ techniques like SWAT, SCAMPER, FISHBONE. PEST, Thinking Quick & Slow and Diverge/Converge’. Although these are valuable and useful they are small lumps of logic and could be thought of as in the TRIZ foothills (and you learn most of them ‘in passing’ as they are all part of TRIZ). Their wonderful simplicity covers the beginnings of problem solving but that is all they are – a good start – to be truly systematic, and get the best innovative solutions we all need to travel much farther – and TRIZ shows us the quickest routes to the right places.
Good problem solvers also learn how TRIZ is an essential addition to the other rigorous toolkits including LEAN, Six Sigma, Systems Thinking etc. It doesn’t replace them but complements their power and fills in their gaps by going far beyond brainstorming to find the best answers.
Oxford TRIZ faces one challenging problem of how to consistently embed TRIZ in companies. We have big famous successes but we would like many more, so that TRIZ helps us all our increase good outputs everywhere. Perhaps I am being impatient but I hope that every TRIZ success is like lighting a small fire, and that the decades of work of everyone in TRIZ has created sparks and smoulderings in every industry all over the globe. With the right atmosphere if they all burst into flame then innovative, sustainable, high productivity might become the TRIZ norm everywhere.