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Innovation Key to Competitive Advantage and Growth

 by Tomasz Arciszewski and Boris Zlotin



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Executive Summary
Design Research and Innovation
Engineering Inventive Problem Solving
TRIZ Evolution
Ideation/TRIZ Technology
Engineering Design Knowledge
Ideation/TRIZ Methodology and Tools
Inventive Engineering – the Bridge to the 21st Century
A View of the Future
About the Authors


Executive Summary

This report is intended for business executives and engineers concerned about the future and about the competitive advantage and growth of their organizations. It is the first in a series of publications intended to educate the public about innovation and about new technologies supporting it. In this report, the reader will learn how the progress in our civilization, and in engineering in particular, led to Design Engineering, and how Inventive Engineering is emerging now. In this context, Ideation/TRIZ, a new inventive engineering technology, is presented.

Inventive Engineering is an emerging science dealing mostly with engineering design processes when innovation is a critical factor. The present research in this area, conducted at Ideation International Inc. and at several universities, addresses three fundamental issues:

  • how to design novel engineering systems (Ideation/TRIZ Methodology)

  • how to eliminate their failures (Ideation Anticipatory Failure Determination process)

  • how to predict their development (Ideation Directed Evolution process)

Addressing the triangle of these interrelated issues will ultimately result not only in new generations of inventive products, but also in acquiring priceless intellectual capital. Both results will lead to building the competitive advantage and growth for the companies which first embrace methods and tools of Inventive Engineering.

"The Power of Invention" is a strong and meaningful title of the first special issue in Newsweek’s series entitled "A New Millennium," which was published in December of 1997. The series will be devoted to several critical topics which have made the strongest impact on our civilization, and on the history of this country in particular. It is no coincidence that the first special issue is on inventions. There is no other kind of human activity more important than inventing for the well-being of nations and for their future. Inventions, based on innovative concepts, have been the driving force behind all changes in our lives, including social, political and technological changes. The history of our civilization has always been driven by innovation, and its importance can never be overestimated. It is ever growing, particularly now, when modern societies evolve and gradually move into the age of Information Technology. The next age will be the Innovation Age. Its emergence can be easily inferred when the evolution of engineering is considered, as discussed in this report.

The Renaissance brought us humanism and progress in fine arts. It also brought us the emergence of military engineering from the domain of fine arts, from which gradually came about the branch of civil engineering. Next, civil engineering developed into a number of domain-oriented engineering sciences, including structural, mechanical, electrical, and other engineering sciences. During the last several years, the progress in information technology stimulated the development of a number of interdisciplinary engineering sciences, for example, Design Engineering, and, as discussed in Section 3, Design Research. Subsequently, a new sub-area of Design Engineering is emerging now, and it is called Inventive Engineering. Its emergence is driven by the importance of innovation in design, and in engineering in general, and by the progress in design research. Inventive Engineering will be an engineering bridge to the next millennium, to a new renaissance in which Information Technology and Inventive Engineering will be the driving forces changing our civilization. Also, it will allow engineering sciences to evolve and to satisfy the needs of our civilization in the next century.

Manufacturing industries, including the software industry, are crucial for the survival and growth of countries and entire continents.  These industries are presently in a period of strong domestic and international competition for the market share. Therefore, they are trying to improve their competitive advantage and thus stimulate their growth. Innovation of products and manufacturing processes is the most important and crucial aspect of competitive advantage, decisive for the growth of engineering organizations. For products, innovation is a major feature of new yet feasible design solutions, also called design concepts, providing a clear competitive advantage in terms of novelty, quality, and cost with respect to other competing solutions/concepts. Obviously, innovation is born in the early stages of the design process, called "conceptual design," when the design concepts are being developed. This process is the subject of interest in Design Engineering and in Inventive Engineering, when innovation is the focus.

For all the reasons discussed above, innovation and Inventive Engineering are becoming extremely important in engineering. Therefore, any progress related to them will have a tremendous impact not only on the industries using innovation, but also on the future of various countries and on our own lives. Also, in this case, at stake is not only our own level of comfort and our survival as a civilization, but also the future of our children.

Design Research and Innovation

When the engineering design process is considered, two main stages can be distinguished. The first is usually called "conceptual design," while the second  is referred to as "detailed design." The entire design process ends with the development of a description of a future engineering system, called the "design," or the "final design solution." Such a description has two major components: an abstract (qualitative) and a numerical (quantitative) component. The abstract component is usually called a "design concept," or an "initial design solution." A design concept is an abstract description of a future engineering system which contains all necessary information for the development of the final and detailed design of this system. Respectively, a numerical component of the final design solution is a numerical description (dimensions, weights, etc.) of the system, containing all numerical information necessary for the realization of the system.

The relationship between the competitive advantage of American manufacturing industries and the innovation of their products in the context of conceptual design was realized in the mid-eighties. Consequently, a significant effort has been made to study the conceptual design process and the issue of innovation in design. The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Advanced Research Programs Administration (ARPA) have supported a number of research projects in this area, which were conducted at the leading research universities in this country. As one of the results of this research, a new engineering science was established: Design Engineering. This interdisciplinary science deals with engineering design processes and with the development of design support tools. At present, as the importance of innovation in design becomes more apparent, a new sub-domain of Design Engineering is emerging: Inventive Engineering. This deals with the engineering design processes when innovation is a crucial factor, and is pioneered by research conducted at Ideation International Inc. in cooperation with several universities.

During the last several years, the design-related research and development within the manufacturing industries have been concentrated on concurrent design and on simultaneous engineering. In both cases, the focus is on the timing factor in the design and manufacturing process. Design for X, where the main focus is on X, became the subject of research recently. The most successful research, in terms of its industrial impact, is focused on Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA), which was initiated at various car manufacturers in this country, in Europe and in Japan in the early 1990’s.

DFMA has been particularly successful at Chrysler Corporation, where it was pioneered. DFMA has been used for major new vehicle launches and for the continuous improvement of current models. It is attributed to the significant reduction of the time necessary to introduce a new model. For example, in the case of the compact car Neon, the reduction was from about five to three and a half years, with appropriate savings and with the gain of a significant competitive advantage.

The success of DFMA at Chrysler Corporation led to more research on design and to the realization of the importance of innovation and of other factors in design. Therefore, the development of a new methodology, called Proactive Design, was initiated. Proactive Design is a class of related design methods, which should be used in a coordinated way to produce a proactive design concept, or a class of such concepts. A Proactive Design Concept of a given engineering system satisfies all imposed product innovation, life cycle, quality and cost requirements, including manufacturability, assembly, serviceability requirements, etc., and it can be produced in a single design cycle.

There are several major reasons why innovation and, subsequently, Proactive Design, are becoming crucial for the competitive advantage in manufacturing:

  • It provides the opportunity to design products of desired innovation, quality and manufacturability.

  • It offers a good chance to reduce the time and costs necessary to introduce new products to the market.

The first reason is particularly important from the industrial perspective, because it gives the manufacturer control over all aspects of the final products in the early stages of the design and manufacturing process. In practical terms, this means that the traditionally sequential and repetitive design and manufacturing process is transformed into a much shorter but complex concurrent process. Also, Proactive Design is becoming important because the impact of avoiding wrong decisions and developing products of an undesired quality can not be measured simply in terms of financial losses. Very often, the reputation of manufacturers depends on the quality of their products, and failing to meet expectations may badly damage this reputation, resulting in losses of market share.

Proactive Design is believed to be the most advanced and promising design technology to improve the competitive advantage of a manufacturing organization which embraces it first. Innovation is the crucial aspect of Proactive Design. Therefore, Ideation/TRIZ Technology should be considered in this context, as the ultimate Inventive Engineering technology complementing and advancing Proactive Design. In fact, it has already been used by the car manufacturing industry for dealing with various difficult and important problems, such as general noise reduction, the elimination of braking noises, corrosion protection, and the development of an evolution line for car steering systems.

Engineering Inventive Problem Solving

Engineering has a long history (Table 1). Until the end of the 17th century, decision making in engineering was based on experience in the form of rules of trade which were gradually and empirically developed over centuries of successful and failed projects. Therefore, this period is called the Age of Experience. In the 18th century the Age of Reason began. The progress in mathematics, in particular in the area of logic, resulted in attempts to rationalize the understanding of the behavior of engineering systems and to use this improved understanding for practical purposes. In the 19th century, the progress in analytical methods resulted in the development of various mathematical models describing the behavior of engineering systems. This Age of Mathematics, which focused on mathematical modeling, ended in the early 1950’s with the introduction of a digital computer allowing computer implementations of complex mathematical models and their complete analysis. The Age of the Computer lasted until the 1980’s. For the present, the progress in Information Technology (IT) has led to a shifting of focus in engineering from the computer analysis of problems to the use of IT for the acquisition, processing and utilization of knowledge about those problems. These changes are usually referred to as the Information Technology (IT) revolution. In this way, the IT Age has been born, with knowledge as the crucial commodity. IT provides the means for engineers to concentrate on innovation instead of on complex analytical work in order to improve the competitive advantage of their organizations. Therefore, the next stage in the evolution of engineering will be the Innovation Age.

Table 1. Evolution of Engineering

Time Period Name Focus
up to the end of 17th century Age of Experience Empirical experience
18th – 19th century Age of Reason Conceptual understanding
19th century – 1950s Age of Mathematics Mathematical models
1950s – 1980s Computer Age Computer modeling
1980s – now Information Technology Age Acquisition and utilization
of knowledge
now – 21st Century Innovation Age Innovative products

Inventive problem solving in engineering also has a long history – dating back to the fifteen century, to the beginning of the Renaissance, to the inventions and innovative designs of Filippo Brunelleschi, Mariono di Iacopo and, obviously, of Leonardo da Vinci. In this country, an extensive line of inventors and scientists created inventive solutions and contributed to the wealth of the nation. Many eighteenth- and nineteenth-century engineers and giants of this century, including Thomas Edison, Graham Bell and others, changed engineering. In the process, they also changed the society and increased its wealth, securing its future in this way.

In the evolution of inventive problem solving, at least four major periods can be distinguished (Table. 2). Until the 1950’s, the Classical Era can be identified. During that time period, a descriptive approach was used to present various inventive problem solving methods, and these methods were intended for manual use. The progress in mathematical modeling and the introduction of the computer changed the situation, resulting in the building of mathematical models describing various inventive problem solving methods, and the implementation of these methods in computer programs. The period from the 1950’s to the 1980’s can be called the Computer Age. The introduction of Information Technology in the 1980’s led to the widespread use of the knowledge-based approach in building computer design support tools for conceptual design and for problem solving. Therefore, this period can be referred as the Information Technology Age, and it has not ended yet. However, the emergence of Network Computing Technology will have an impact on inventive problem solving, as is clearly demonstrated by the rapidly growing research in this area. In this context, it is not difficult to predict that during the next several years a new generation of inventive problem solving methods and tools will be developed and implemented. This will lead us into the Age of Network Computing, in which problem solving will be conducted using a virtual world approach, over computer networks, by teams with members located in different places and using intelligent agents for problem solving.

Table 2. Evolution of Problem Solving in Engineering

Time Period Name Focus
up to 1960s Classical Era Prescriptive and descriptive methods
1960s to 1980s Computer Age Building mathematical models and their computer implementation
1980s to present Information Technology Age Knowledge-based approach
Late 1990s to the next century Network Computing Age Virtual world approach

TRIZ Evolution

The development of TRIZ is rooted in engineering, not in psychology, as with the majority of other inventive problem solving methods (for example, brainstorming or synectics). It spans a period of more than 50 years, two continents, three political systems, and is based on the efforts of a large group of talented engineers and inventors. It started in the mid-forties when Genrich Altshuller, a young and talented inventor, was working as a patent agent for the Soviet Navy. His responsibility was to help inventors to file their patent applications. However, many inventors also asked him for help in solving their inventive problems in various domains. Therefore, he was motivated to find a universal method useful for that purpose. Unfortunately, such a method was unavailable at that time and thus he decided to develop it. He soon began comparing patents from various domains, looking for similarities. Surprisingly, he found many inventive patterns underlying inventions in engineering. This discovery led him to a vision of the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ), which would allow engineers to solve inventive problems in a systematic way. During the next four decades, he worked to implement this vision.

TRIZ is based on three fundamental concepts, which were formulated in the context of conceptual design: 1) Ideality, 2) Contradictions, and 3) System approach. These are briefly discussed below.

The Ideality Concept is crucial in the development of inventive concepts. An ideal concept is a concept of an ideal system which is virtual, provides the required functions, and produces no undesirable side effects.

Contradictions are interrelated pairs of features of an engineering system. When one feature is improved, the second one is worsened – for example, stiffness and weight. In this context, inventive problem solving requires the identification and elimination of contradictions.

Using the System Approach is crucial for arriving at inventive solutions. In this case, a given engineering system must be considered within the context of its supersystem (for example, a plane within the context of a transportation system), and of its subsystems (individual components). Also, it must be analyzed taking into account its predecessors and successors, i.e. considering the process of its evolution.

In the evolution of TRIZ, three stages can be distinguished (Table 3). The first period is usually referred to as the Classical Era (1946 – 1980’s). During this period, the conceptual foundation of TRIZ was formulated, and many methods and tools were developed, but not integrated. Also, a large body of engineering knowledge was accumulated. However, all results were produced in a descriptive form appropriate only for the manual use of TRIZ. For this reason, as well as the general state of apathy in the Soviet Union which resulted in a reluctance to change and resistance to innovation, TRIZ had only limited practical application.

Table 3. Evolution of TRIZ Technology

Time Period Name Features
1946 – 1985 Classical Era Formulation of fundamental concepts, descriptive approach to knowledge presentation, development of independent tools for concept generation.
1984 – 1992 Kishinev Era Systematic approach to knowledge integration, attempts to build an integrated system of methods and tools for the entire conceptual design process, attempts to develop prototype software.
1992 – present Ideation Era Knowledge-based approach, advanced research to build an integrated systems of methods and computer tools for the entire conceptual design process, advanced software development.

The second period, often called the Kishinev Era (1982-1992), started when Boris Zlotin, an accomplished inventive problem solving expert, established, along with Alla Zusman, a TRIZ technical school in Kishinev. This school provided various forms of training, but also continued research on TRIZ. The school’s objective was to integrate the individual TRIZ methods, tools, and accumulated knowledge, and to present TRIZ in a form acceptable for an international audience and for computerization. Also, they wanted to develop TRIZ as a technology for dealing with all stages of the inventive problem solving process, since the original TRIZ was focused mostly on the concept development stage. Their pioneering research, its rapid progress, and the initial prototype computer tools, caught the attention of Zion Bar-El, an entrepreneur in the areas of high technology and innovation. He immediately realized the potential of TRIZ and decided to build a company to utilize it in the American industrial environment. Ideation International Inc. was born. Consequently, the entire TRIZ Kishinev School team was relocated to the United States, becoming part of Ideation International Inc.

The third period, called the Ideation Era, started in 1992. This period can be characterized by several major developments. First, TRIZ was used to solve a number of complex and difficult inventive problems in this country for the car manufacturing, aerospace, textile, wood and petrochemical industries. For example, a novel containment ring for an airplane engine fan was invented for Allied Signal, and a new type of brake system for a golf cart was invented for the automotive division of Rockwell International. The entire evolution of TRIZ is shown in Fig. 1, which clearly demonstrates the individual eras and their major accomplishments.

Figure 1. Evolution of TRIZ

The impressive results of using TRIZ, mentioned above, have established the credibility of Ideation International Inc. within the engineering community and allowed them to start offering various TRIZ-related courses to industry engineers. The research initiated in Kishinev has been also continued. Its ultimate objective is to adapt and develop TRIZ for the American engineering environment, including all recent design research developments. The specific objectives are to develop an integrated system of methods and tools for the entire conceptual design process, and to develop a new generation of analytical and knowledge-based computer tools containing the accumulated engineering knowledge. All these objectives lead to an integrated system, which is called here the Ideation/TRIZ Technology, and which will also include an educational component. The present research and developments are rooted in Information Technology and they mostly utilize the knowledge-based approach. The development of Ideation/TRIZ Technology reflects the paradigm shift from the purely analytic to an IT-based and knowledge-driven approach to inventive problem solving. In its present form, this technology is intended to become the 21st-century standard in inventive problem solving, as Finite Elements Analysis is the standard analytical technology in mechanical or structural engineering.

Ideation/TRIZ Technology

Technology is understood here as a complete system available for practical applications containing a methodology, various computer support tools, instructional materials, etc. In this context, Ideation/TRIZ Technology is an emerging technology for dealing with the evolving engineering systems. It is applicable in all situations when inventive solutions, or concepts, are sought, existing systems have to be improved, or the evolution of engineering systems is to be analyzed and predicted. The technology has already achieved an advanced level of development justifying its practical use. It has three interrelated components, including Methodology, Tools, and Educational Support. The core component is Methodology, and therefore its assumptions and extend are discussed here with some details. The remaining two components are only briefly mentioned in the context of the Methodology.

The development of TRIZ has been based on the four key findings. These findings have become the main assumptions for this technology and are therefore listed below and then briefly discussed:

  • Inventive problem

  • Levels of inventions

  • Patterns of inventions

  • Patterns of evolution

An inventive problem is a problem that contains at least one contradiction. A contradiction occurs when attempts to improve one feature of the system lead to the degradation of another feature. For example, in the case of members which undergo bending, there is a contradiction between stiffness and weight.

Based on the analysis of tens of thousands of patents, a classification of levels of inventions, or levels of inventive solutions (concepts), was proposed by Altshuller. It is the following classification with five categories:

Apparent solutions are simply selected from a class of known solutions in a given engineering domain.

Improved solutions are modified solutions from a given engineering domain or are obtained as a combination of known solutions from this domain.

Inventions inside a paradigm are solutions produced as combinations of known solutions from different but related domains. (for example, structural and mechanical engineering)

Inventions outside a paradigm are solutions produced using knowledge from at least two much different domains (for example, structural engineering and electrical engineering).

Discoveries are solutions based on new scientific principles (for example, an x-ray machine based on the recently discovered principles of radiation)

Ideation/TRIZ Technology can be effectively used when inventive concepts of levels 2 through 4 are sought. Its use is particularly recommended when inventions inside or outside a paradigm are desired.

It has been discovered that the same contradictions have been addressed by a number of inventions in various areas of engineering. Therefore, there is methodological and technical knowledge about inventions which may be extracted, compiled and generalized enabling future inventors to use it. This knowledge is called here Patterns of Inventions.

When evolution of various engineering systems is considered, similar changes can be observed, even when compared systems were developed in entirely different domains. For example, parts of a car, of an airplane, of a machine, all gradually become dynamic, that is flexible, capable to change. Obviously, engineering systems do not evolve randomly, but their evolution follows Patterns of Evolution. These patterns can be revealed and used for the directed system improvement without numerous blind trials.

Engineering Design Knowledge

The TRIZ-related engineering design knowledge has been accumulated as a result of more than 50 years of research. It represents a significant amount of the human inventive experience and it has been acquired from patents and from other sources documenting the history of engineering evolution. This knowledge is structured into four levels considering its impact on the conceptual design process:

Level 1 – Selected Examples of Inventions

Level 2 – Inventive Principles, 76 Standard Solutions, and "Effects"

Level 3 – System of Operators

Level 4 – Patterns and Lines of Evolution

Selected examples of inventive solutions, which are representative for a class of problems from various domains, are the simplest form of knowledge. They can be used for inspiration in conceptual design, directly utilized in the case-based design, or used in various forms of analogical reasoning.

Inventive principles are rules for system transformations. Each principle is intended to eliminate a single contradiction or several contradictions. Also, these principles can be used simply to stimulate, or initiate, the inventive conceptual design process. A Standard Solution represents a frequently used solution for a specific type of problem which is not necessarily formulated as a contradiction. It can be also interpreted as a specific rule for system transformation. Seventy six such Standard Solutions have been identified and organized into five classes for their future use.

Effects is a structured collection of various pieces of fundamental knowledge which were found particularly useful in conceptual design.

Operator is the general name given in the IDEATION/TRIZ Methodology to an inventive principle or/and to a Standard Solution. All Operators have been divided into three classes, including Universal, General, and Specialized Operators. They are organized in blocks, created for addressing different types of problems, and they form a net-like structure with numerous interconnections. Connections create associative chains, guiding a user in the direction towards increasing the system’s Ideality.

For a given class of engineering systems, eight Patterns of Evolution can be identified. Each pattern represents a description of the process of possible changes of these systems and a collection of rules governing this process. For example, Pattern of Evolution Toward Increased Dynamism and Controllability states that in the course of development, engineering systems evolve from inflexible systems into flexible ones. (A rigid chair becomes a folding chair or a chair with moveable components).

Ideation/TRIZ Methodology and Tools

A methodology is understood here as a collection of related methods to solve a class of problems. Ideation/TRIZ Methodology is mostly intended for dealing with engineering problems. However, recent applications in the area of business management were successful and clearly demonstrated its feasibility in this area.

In the case of engineering design, Ideation/TRIZ Methodology can be used in the conceptual design process, which produces design concepts. By this term are meant various abstract descriptions of a future engineering system which contain all necessary information for the development of the final and detailed design of this system. The major stages of the conceptual design process are provided below:

  • Problem identification

  • Problem formulation

  • Concept development

  • Concept evaluation

  • Concept implementation

Within this process, Ideation/TRIZ Technology provides methods, tools and educational support to deal with the first four stages. In addition, during the concept implementation stage of the design process, TRIZ Technology can be used for dealing with secondary problems.

At present, Ideation/TRIZ Technology contains two classes of tools, called "Analytical Tools" and knowledge-based "Concept Development Tools," respectively. The first class provides methods and computer tools for Problem Identification and Problem Formulation. It contains Algorithm for Inventive Problem Solving (ARIZ), Substance-Field Analysis, and recently developed Innovation Situation Questionnaire and Problem Formulator. The second class of tools is intended for Concept Development and it includes several knowledge-based tools, for example, tools utilizing selected examples of inventions, inventive principles, effects, or a system of operators.

Innovation Situation Questionnaire is an analytical tool for documenting the problem. It helps to organize the knowledge about the problem including the identification of the desired improvements, of the available resources and of limitations.

Problem Formulator is an analytical tool for revealing exhaustive set of Directions for Innovation. It helps build a functional model of the problem and generate a set of problem statements based on revealing relationship between useful and harmful functions.

Substance-Field Analysis is an analytical tool for developing functional models of a given problem.

Algorithm for Inventive Problem Solving (ARIZ) is an analytical tool for modeling the inventive problem, including revealing, formulating and resolving contradictions in the context of concept generation process.

Inventive Engineering – the Bridge to the 21st Century

The history of our civilization has clearly demonstrated that progress and paradigm changes are driven by new developments in science and technology. Today, we are living on the brink of the 21st Century and we are looking for directions and inspiration to move our society into this next century. At the same time, we witness significant transformations in the way engineering and innovation are perceived in the process of building wealth of modern societies and how progress in engineering sciences immediately leads to the improved competitive advantage and growth. In this situation, it is becoming crucial to identify and rapidly develop the engineering sciences with the greatest impact on our future.

Considering the proven importance of innovation in engineering as its driving force, as well as the entire process of engineering evolution, the natural conclusion of this report is to identify the Inventive Engineering as one of the engineering sciences decisive for making the transition from the First to the Second Millennium. This science can be considered as a an engineering bridge to the 21st Century, a bridge to be build in order to enter the age of Innovation, as described earlier in the Report.

The design and Information Technology research should soon result in a development of a new generation of design methods and tools, absolutely necessary to fully establish the Inventive Engineering and to build our bridge to the 21st Century. In particular, the research on innovation in design, on the intelligent agents, on the automated knowledge acquisition, or on the logical foundations of design, should lead in the near future to a merger of engineering and Information Technology in the context of design. This process has already been initiated and its rapid progress is expected.

The Inventive Engineering is an emerging area of design engineering. It is an engineering science dealing with design processes when innovation is a critical factor. Within this science, three major areas can be distinguished, including 1). Fundamental Methodology, 2). Methodics, and 3). Tools development.

The subject of interest in the first area are all the fundamental methodological issues related to innovation in design, including the general models of the design processes, the integration of various design methods and tools in a given design process, the evolution of design processes, the issue of novelty and its formal measures, etc. Methodics is understood here as a study of the individual innovation-oriented design methods, including their development, mathematical modeling and experimental verification. Tools development area is self-explanatory, but in this case the use of advanced programming languages and tools is much more dominant than in the other engineering sciences, for example, in structural engineering.

The research leading to the development of Inventive Engineering has been initiated at a number of universities. In the industrial environment, Ideation International Inc. is a pioneer of such research, mostly based on TRIZ. It is expected that this research will be intensified, particularly and more design researchers and engineers will discover the importance of innovation in building a competitive advantage leading to the growth of their organizations.

A View of the Future

The Ideation/TRIZ technology is a living technology. It has been developed by experts in the analysis and predictions of evolution of engineering systems. Therefore, the existing technology can be considered as a part of an evolutionary line of inventive engineering technologies. At each stage of this line, the technology reflects the state of the art of the original Ideation International Inc. research on inventive engineering as well as the state of the art of design research and computer science in this country.

The present Ideation International Inc. research is concentrated on the improvements of the methodological foundation of IDEATION/TRIZ Methodology and on the development and integration of various computer tools. Also, the progress in collaborative design and in computing is closely monitored. Therefore, it can be predicted that the new generation of the technology will be developed for collaborative design using network computing and the new advanced technology of intelligent agents.

The research is specifically focused on the three fundamental engineering processes of inventive problem solving, anticipatory failure determination, and of directed evolution. These three processes will become gradually integrated creating a foundation for the future engineering design practice combining the generation of inventive solutions, predicting and avoiding failures, and expanding engineering knowledge through learning evolution of engineering systems. All three processes have been developed as five-step processes which are relatively easy to conceptualize and to use. For example, an outline of the Ideation Structured Process for Inventive Problem Solving is shown below in Table 4.

Table 4. Ideation Structured Process for Inventive Problem Solving

Step Action Content


Document the problem

Complete and analyze the Innovation Situation Questionnaire (ISQ).


Formulate the problem

Develop an exhaustive set of directions for innovation using the Problem Formulator.


Prioritize directions for innovation



Develop concepts

Develop an exhaustive set of Solution Concepts using various knowledge-base tools.


Evaluate results; plan implementation

Select Solution Concepts and develop an Implementation Plan.

Ideation International Inc. is involved in providing an integrated support for its inventive engineering technology. It includes short term courses and publishing various books, reports and teaching materials for the general public interested in IDEATION/TRIZ. Finally, Ideation International Inc. has developed several computer software tools which are continuously being improved. In the future, the continuation of all these activities is expected, but the advanced Information Technology will be incorporated in the new products and they will be most likely oriented toward collaborative design utilizing the emerging technology of network computing.

The purpose of this Report was to provide an initial outline of Ideation/TRIZ Technology in the context of the state of the art. Also, the authors wanted to initiate a dialog among design researches and the other professionals interested in innovation in design, and ultimately in the competitive advantage and growth of their organizations. Therefore, all comments and suggestions regarding the Report would be highly appreciated and they will hopefully lead to building a community of Inventive Engineering experts who will become innovation leaders in their organizations.


Competitive Advantage: a combination of innovative products of better quality and lower costs and of shorter design and manufacturing cycles, when compared with competition.

Design engineering: an interdisciplinary engineering science dealing with engineering design processes and with the development of design support computer tools.

Inventive engineering: an emerging area of design engineering dealing with engineering design processes when innovation is a critical factor.

Innovation: a major feature of a new yet feasible design solution, or design concept, with clear competitive advantage when compared to known concepts.

Design solution/concept: an abstract description of a future engineering system which contains all necessary information for the development of the final and detailed design of this system.

Methodology: a collection of related methods to solve a class of problems.

Technology: a complete system available for practical applications containing a methodology, various computer support tools, instructional materials, etc.

About the Authors

Tomasz Arciszewski is the Associate Professor of Urban Systems Engineering in the School of Information Technology and Engineering at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He received his MS (Summa Cum Laude) and Ph.D. degrees from the Warsaw University of Technology in 1970 and 1975, respectively. He taught at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, at the Warsaw University of Technology, and at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka. Over the last two decades he has also gained practical design experience in Poland and Switzerland. His research interests include design and inventive engineering, and applications of information technology, including network computing and machine learning, to engineering. His research has been supported by various grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, the State of Michigan, and by industry (Chrysler Corporation). He has authored or co-authored over ninety publications in the areas of structural engineering, engineering design and artificial intelligence, including several book chapters. His research on inventive engineering led to the development of a conceptual design method which was implemented in a computer program, and its use produced three inventions in the area of structural engineering which were patented in Canada, Poland, and the United States. He is one of the two Editors of the recently published monograph "Knowledge Acquisition in Civil Engineering" and the Technical Editor of the American Society of Civil Engineers Journal "Computing in Civil Engineering." Presently, he is the Chair of the Expert Systems and Artificial Intelligence Committee of the same society.

Boris Zlotin is the Chief Scientist and the Vice President of Ideation International Inc. He received his BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering from the St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, where he prepared three theses in theoretical electromechanics. He became involved in teaching, researching, and consulting in TRIZ in 1974. In 1981, he began working with Altshuller. Together, they conducted fundamental research on TRIZ and participated in numerous seminars throughout the Soviet Union. During his long professional career, he has been successfully involved in solving more than 4,000 engineering and business problems in Russia and the United States. In the research area, Mr. Zlotin is credited with development of Lines of Technological Evolution and Patterns of Evolution in various engineering domains. His original results have been presented in nine books, including three books co-authored with Altshuller.


The authors would like to thank Ms. Alla Zusman of Ideation International Inc. for providing invaluable comments and input which were used in writing this report. Also, they would like to recognize the support of Ideation International Inc. for the preparation of this report.

Submitted March 13, 1998.


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