Highways england - ROAD CONES case study

The case study has been set out below to show how the TRIZ process is followed.  

The left hand column is the Oxford TRIZ Tool step-by-step process – with no problem details, and the right hand column shows how Highways England followed the process and the results that were uncovered.


Oxford TRIZ Fast Ideal Problem Solving 

Cost effective answers by Mobilising Available Resources

This Fast 4 Step TRIZ tool locates strong, practical solutions by first defining the IDEAL and then the functions to deliver its top benefits, and cuts straight to a RESOURCE Hunt for pragmatic answers.

1.  What is the Problem?

2.  What do we want? 
    Define the Ideal Outcome
   (teams complete worksheet below).


Where are the Road Cones? 

In the right places at the right times?
Highways England TRIZ Solution cost £50 thousand instead of £10 million

It was uncovered by the Highways England (HE) Lighting Specialist Team based in Bristol. They tried Oxford TRIZ tools on some of their most pressing problems, including Fast 4 Step TRIZ on the challenge of knowing where all ROAD CONES are on major roads - to help ensure that they are only out when needed. The team’s task was to come up with a system which dynamically maps all locations of road cones on major roads - and tracks where and when they are in place including times when they are being laid down and removed. 

The workshop was given the problem - Detect and map road cones 

  •  Where are they on the major roads? 
  •  When they have been put out and when they have been removed?

Define the Ideal Outcome
Defining the Ideal Outcome - Highways England Road Cones case study

3. How do we get it?
    Define the essential functions which deliver principal
    benefits defined via the Ideal in the
Resources Exercise’ worksheet

4. Identify Solutions from Resources
    - which are fully identified in 9 Boxes.
    We find Resources to provide essential Functions
    which deliver Solutions.

Identify resources worksheet for TRIZ

Resources ~Exercise worksheet - Highways England Road Cones case study    

SOLUTIONS include using Road Cones app (like old Cones phoneline to help map cones) and track changes by monitoring cones-laying & removal by self-tracking (instrumentation) of vehicles plus other available resources.

Basis for solution is like a police investigation. We know nothing for certain but we can collect evidence and see what it points to (should understand more about how police do this).


Oxford Creativity is known for making TRIZ easy to learn and apply – it developed Oxford TRIZ to maximize idea and knowledge sharing. This ensures that everyone participates and contributes by working in teams of 3-5 people with carefully designed teaching exercises and problem solving materials and despite mostly working with teams of engineers Oxford Creativity illustrates all teaching and with commissioned TRIZ cartoons

Why Oxford Creativity for TRIZ learning

With these methods and by keeping the TRIZ rigour and logic whilst jettisoning its complexity it has achieved success helping many teams solve their most difficult engineering and management problems. In almost 20 years Oxford Creativity says it has never seen its TRIZ problem solving fail and has shown major organisations how to tackle and quickly resolve even their most ‘unsolvable ‘problems, accessing relevant knowledge and accelerating pragmatic creative problem solving from their project teams. Offering ‘proof through problem solving’ - widespread corporate adoption of Oxford TRIZ aims to establish an innovative culture, effective teams and faster new product successes. 


Report prepared by:

Karen Gadd 
Oxford Creativity 

Full Highways England Road Cones Case Study (PDF)