Writing TRIZ for Dummies

Posted on March 24, 2016
Archive : March 2016
Category : Triz Blog

Writing triz for dummies

I had been thinking about writing a TRIZ book for a while before I started “TRIZ for Dummies”; I knew that I had a lot to say (I always have a lot to say) and I thought there was a gap in the market of TRIZ books - there didn’t yet exist the kind of book about TRIZ that I really wanted to read. Something that explained TRIZ simply, without any technical examples.

 

One of the things that gets in the way of TRIZ being more widely known and adopted is its engineering background. The TRIZ community is rightly proud of the strong engineering and scientific pedigree behind the TRIZ tools and processes – and TRIZ has traditionally been used more on engineering problems than any other. As a result, most of the literature about TRIZ is written by engineers, for engineers – using the language of engineering. Engineering can form the lens through which TRIZ is described and explained – even in books aimed at a more general audience – which might be clear for engineers but can be off-putting (and a bit intimidating) for the rest of us.

 

When I was just starting with TRIZ I struggled with most books as the examples used to explain the TRIZ concepts were technical and I often didn’t understand them; even if they were very simple I worried there was some technical detail or assumption I was missing. I tried reading a couple of books aimed at TRIZ for management but still found them heavy going – the language used still bore a lot of the trademarks of engineering thinking, because the authors had a technical background, and that language made sense to them (and other engineers) – but not to me. I only understood TRIZ books once I had understood TRIZ (and I now enjoy them – particularly Altshuller’s books). I thought that a simple introduction to TRIZ that anyone could read and understand (regardless of their background) could be really valuable to help make this powerful problem solving approach better known, and I thought perhaps I might be the right person to write such a book.

 

I am a bit of an anomaly in the TRIZ world, in that I have absolutely zero technical, scientific or engineering experience. Yet despite my lack of technical background I am able to use TRIZ successfully, and help others use TRIZ; I have first-hand experience of the power of using TRIZ on all kinds of problems – from highly complex engineering issues, to strategic issues where it’s difficult to see to the wood for the trees, right down to simple everyday problems where TRIZ has delivered not only great clarity of thought but also the triggers for fantastically inventive solutions.

  

So I know TRIZ is useful for everyone – if only they know it exists, and that it can be useful for them! That’s why a “TRIZ for Dummies” book makes sense – the “For Dummies” title is familiar to everyone and a fantastically useful introduction to a wide range of topics (I own several – on topics as diverse as patents, owning dogs and playing the ukulele!).

 

TRIZ isn’t hard to use, but it can be hard to describe in simple terms, with general examples; my aim for the book was to explain TRIZ without using a single engineering example but I found that for some the technical tools (such as the Trends of Technical Evolution and the Effects Database) this was impossible: the tools come from technical systems and are most useful when applied to technical problems. As a result, where I had to illustrate the tools using something technical I used simple consumer products that I hoped most people would understand and be familiar with, such as a cheese grater or a toilet brush.

TRIZ for Dummies

I also tried to use as little TRIZ jargon as possible: this is one of the ways that having a team of editors with no knowledge of TRIZ - but a passion for clear and simple explanation – was so useful. Every discipline has its own language (and it was the engineering language which was the most off-putting aspect of the TRIZ books I had read) and TRIZ is no exception. The “For Dummies” team pointed out every time I used “TRIZ-speak” and ensured I made things as simple as possible (but no simpler) to create a guide that would be clear to any reader.  

I hope that my brief introduction to TRIZ through this book will excite and inspire people to learn more and explore the fantastic and in-depth literature that currently exists with confidence – and also to join me and write more general TRIZ books in the future!

Buy the book


Lilly Haines-Gadd

TRIZ teacher, facilitator, author and MD of Oxford Creativity - a TRIZ company based in Oxford, United Kingdom. www.triz.co.uk

Lilly Haines-Gadd


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