My Year with TRIZ: I no Longer Remember how I used to Problem-solve

Posted by Dr. Heather Kitts on 28 Aug 2019


In the summer of 2018 I came away from an IT conference with only one take-away, and that was the word 'TRIZ'. It hadn’t been explained and that had piqued my interest. I quickly discovered Oxford Creativity and after listening to one of their webinars I knew I was hooked...

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I read 'TRIZ for Engineers' by Karen Gadd and then quickly followed that with 'TRIZ for Dummies' by Lilly Haines-Gadd. Over the years I had studied all the standard IT and management frameworks, yet TRIZ was something “new”. (I now know that TRIZ has a long and rich heritage.)

TRIZ seemed unique

TRIZ seemed unique in that it focused on creative problem-solving, but did it with a structure that enables you to push beyond the point where you may have previously given up.
I knew that TRIZ was useful to me, but I was also convinced that my IT colleagues would benefit. In particular, I wanted my team of architects to have a common language and a shared set of tools to go to when faced with tricky problems.

I engaged with Oxford Creativity

I engaged with Oxford Creativity and Karen (Gadd) designed a three day workshop that was right for us, and delivered just before Christmas when colleagues would find it easier to attend. The presenters were very experienced, and also knowledgeable of IT which had a positive impact on the attendees. Not a single colleague had heard of TRIZ, but they were all keen to come on creativity training; they found it relevant and helpful.

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Earlier this year, as a member of our Women in IT Steering Group...

Earlier this year, as a member of our Women in IT Steering Group, I was developing a strategy to get more women into the profession. Confident that TRIZ could help, but unconfident of running my own workshop, I turned to Karen for advice. I wanted to work with a team of men and women, some technical, some Human Resources subject matter experts; some TRIZ-trained, others not.


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Karen came to the rescue and ran a half-day problem-solving workshop on how to create a more diverse and innovative IT workforce. The attendee engagement was intense and the outputs were extensive. Spurred on by that success I then organised a 70 minute mini-workshop with a much larger group of women in IT. The focus and productivity was incredible. Both sessions really helped to consolidate our collective thinking and therefore shaped our strategy.

A year on, I can't remember how I solved problems before TRIZ...

At some point I internalised TRIZ thinking and blended it with my previous practice.

At intervals I come back to the Oxford Creativity content and refresh my understanding, each time gaining a deeper insight and becoming a little more skilled.


Dr Heather Kitts
Head of Business Application and Data Architecture
IT Services
University of Oxford


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Topics: TRIZ, Problem Solving, IT, Training