The Nanny McPhee School of Facilitation

Posted on March 16, 2017
Archive : March 2017
Category : Triz Blog

I am being ignored in a TRIZ problem solving workshop and it is wonderful.......

Neil Sherry and I are with a team of engineers in the US, and are on the second day of a two-day TRIZ problem solving workshop. This workshop is part of a programme to embed the use of TRIZ in day to day engineering work, so we are running a series of TRIZ training and problem solving workshops – this is the third with this client.

What we have found is the greatest success comes from not only teaching people TRIZ, but showing them how to use it on a real, pressing problem.

As a result, if we have three days we can spend with a team, we won’t spend all three days teaching them the tools in a traditional training workshop; instead we’ll spend one day teaching then two days showing them how to apply the TRIZ tools and processes on a problem to which they need a solution.

Nanny McPhee - why TRIZ is similar to the way of the McPhee teaching

This results in much better transfer of training, as people have seen how they can apply the tools on the products they are designing and developing every day. 

We also help them with their first baby steps of putting the tools into practice, showing them how to use them and helping them if they get stuck.

learning TRIZ - brick building of learning


My colleague Neil said to me we are a bit like Nanny McPhee: when we first start, they don’t want our help (even people keen to apply new thinking can default to their tried and tested methods when under pressure) but they need it. We are there to show them which tools to use, to guide them in putting them into practice and to keep all discussion and debate within the constraints of the task at hand.

Then comes the stage when they know they need us, and they appreciate having us around. 

I prefer to be quite hands-off at this stage – I will step back and allow them to work independently, but be available if I see they have a question or are getting stuck.

And then, finally….they ignore us. 

They still like having us around (I had some nice discussions about our website and the TRIZ community in the break) but they don’t need us anymore. 

They are working confidently – I am watching the teams uncover, define and solve contradictions, a skill none of them had on Monday morning – and if I wander up to any group they ignore me – they are too busy working and having fun.

Nanny McPhee silhouette - why TRIZ is similar to the way of working

And as Neil said, like Nanny McPhee, their solutions started off quite ugly – but as the workshop progresses, they are getting more and more beautiful.

Lilly Haines-Gadd

Lilly is the author of 'TRIZ for Dummies', an easy-to-read introduction to TRIZ and part of Wiley’s successful 'For Dummies' series.
Lilly Haines-Gadd

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