Elects a President
Proseanic and Svetlana Visnepolschi
(First published in the April 2000
issue of the TRIZ Journal.)
Problem 1 – The Poster
Problem 2 – What to do with too many VIPs?
Problem 3 –
Too many VIPs, again
Problem 4 – Undesired Meeting
About the Authors
This paper presents selected examples of
the authors’ experiences in applying TRIZ to politics.
In 1996 a presidential election campaign
took place in a republic previously belonging to the former Soviet Union.
A team of TRIZ specialists were involved in the campaign as a system
analysis group and to provide decision-making support. The team dealt with
strategic and tactical concepts, short-term predictions, ideas and text
for campaign material, and solving of all non-trivial problems that arose
in the management, technical, or communication areas.
During the first stage of the election
campaign the group consulted for two competing candidates (this was
possible due to a two-stage election system). Having parallel consulting
projects allowed us to apply TRIZ tools and methodologies more effectively
and to compare the results.
The first client (which we shall refer to
as candidate "A") was an experienced politician and strong
centrist leader. His goal was to win. The second client (candidate
"B") was a new figure in the political arena. He wished to
present himself and his party as a new political force. According to
pre-election surveys he could achieve, at best, sixth place in the
As a result of the 1996 elections,
candidate A became president. Candidate B finished in third place and
became a political sensation.
Below are several examples of applying TRIZ
to the solving of election problems.
Problem 1 – The
Candidate A's main opponent, candidate C
(the former president), issued a poster that was widely distributed. The
poster, which included a large portrait of C along with various political
slogans, delivered a strong impression: candidate C looked like a true
Father of the Nation – one of the common people, but smart and wise. The
poster was printed on high quality paper in quantities that allowed it to
be seen all over the country. No other candidate (including A) could
afford to print so many expensive posters. Our assistance was vitally
The poster provides a positive impression
due to its overall high cost . . . but should make a negative impression
because it is so expensive (the average citizen was very poor).
Applied TRIZ tool:
- Ideal Ultimate Result: The poster itself
should make a negative impression.
- Main Resource: Lack of money.
- TRIZ operator “Counteract the harmful
effect” (partial): Neutralize the harmful effect with a
countering effect [1, 2].
The following suggestions were made:
- Print a leaflet on poor-quality,
inexpensive paper (it should look handmade or as if it were
manufactured on a primitive printing machine), to include:
– three short expressive phrases describing the terrible results of
C's political activity during his presidency
– three illustrations (simple drawings or photos) depicting the
– on the bottom of the paper, in the middle, one large word –
"ENOUGH!" – visible from a distance
- Paste the leaflets near C's posters (the
best position is underneath the poster).
- It is not necessary to print a large
number of leaflets – if the leaflets
are relatively scarce they will prompt more active discussion.
- The entire operation (printing and
pasting) should be done very quickly, while the impression engendered
by C's poster is still in effect.
The authors observed not only the
implementation of their solution, but its consequences as well. The most
touching was a sample of the leaflet presented to the authors by their
neighbor as evidence of the real "voice of people."
Problem 2 – What to
do with too many VIPs?
Candidate A's staff had accumulated an
excess of VIPs. Most were high-ranking bureaucrats with powerful,
longstanding connections. They wished to play an important role in making
decisions for A but with no responsibility for the consequences, of
These VIPs could not be discounted as
they held a certain amount of influence on the electorate. However, their
propositions were ridiculous and thus unusable.
Applied TRIZ tool:
- The main resource of the VIPs was their
ability to create documents.
- The classical way of resolving a
contradiction "in space" is to insulate the undesirable part
within the system.
It was recommended that a "political
council" be created for the VIPs, to be implemented as an element of
the staff structure. The impressive title was aimed at the sensitive egos
of the VIPs, who would submit their suggestions to the National Program
for Economic Development. The political council was not
subject to time constraints or any other restrictions. Suggestions, if
provided, would be accepted into the program on a selective basis. The
VIPs were completely occupied by this "important" activity and therefore
did not hinder the work of others.
Problem 3 – Too many
A similar situation to problem 2 appeared
in the camp of candidate B. This time, however, it involved a group of
meticulous party veterans who were highly critical of the younger staff
members (i.e., everyone else on the staff). This situation added tension to the already stressful environment of the election
campaign. Contrary to the VIPs in problem 2, most of these people were not
motivated by selfish ambition – they were simply active and honest
citizens trying to do their best.
- The main resources of the meticulous party
veterans: honesty; political activity.
- TRIZ operator "Redirect the effect
at another object": Focus the source of a negative effect on
another object; this will protect the object previously exposed to the
effect. For this purpose, try:
– placing the source closer to the object
– transporting the effective part of the source to the object
– turning the source in the required direction
The party veterans were assigned a
"critically important” task – to be on hand in all electoral
districts in order to reveal any activities prohibited by the election
laws. This way everyone could be completely assured that the law would be
observed! The punctilious veterans would not forget their duties and, of
course, would never be late. Their careful scrutiny would ensure that
every voting slip and every transporting ballot box was safe from
In a post-communist country whose
democratic traditions were young, this was a serious task. And because it
was not an ordinary procedure but rather a single-party initiative,
time-consuming preparations were required to create and disseminate
instructions for identifying voting offenses and handling them as
prescribed under the law.
Problem 4 – Undesired
The staff of candidate C (candidate A's
main opponent) decided to call a meeting of C supporters at the Square of
The Square of National Agreement is the
country's main square. In the memories of its citizens this square is
associated with the country's most important historical events, in
particular, with the announcement of independence. The candidate who holds
a meeting in the Square of National Agreement therefore makes a deep
impression on the people – it will appear as if the entire nation
supports him. Clearly, this event was undesirable for candidate A.
The following information also needed to be
considered: holding a meeting at the Square of National Agreement required
permission from the appropriate municipal authorities. According to the information we received, C's
application was submitted in time for permission to be granted. In
addition, the municipal authorities were among C’s supporters.
A meeting was to take place because it had
been approved by the municipality and was organized appropriately.
The meeting should not take place, however, because it could harmfully
impact candidate A's popularity.
Applied TRIZ tool:
Anticipatory Failure Determination (AFD)
method, part 4:"Prevent/Eliminate the Failure" .
Solution concepts (partial):
The resulting recommendations were arranged
into three main scenarios:
A. Preliminary measures
B. Direct measures
C. Measures for reducing
A. Preliminary measures
- The following question should be posed
at the next session of Parliament: The Square of National Agreement is
a sacred place in the eyes of the nation. Should activities to
support a particular party or politician be permitted there?
- The following resolution should be
submitted for approval: Any political activity held in the square,
with the exception of All-National meetings, should be forbidden.
- Candidate A should announce an
initiative to organize a United National meeting with all candidates
present, to be held at the same place and time (or earlier) than the
meeting of C supporters. Should C eschew the United National meeting
it would appear as if he were opposed to national unity.
- Leak information concerning the above
preliminary measures, and prevent any action by C's staff related to
the meeting of C supporters.
B. Direct Measures
Should the preliminary measures prove
ineffective, the following recommendations should be carried out:
- Organize a meeting of retired, poor and
disabled people to be held at the same time near the presidential palace
(C’s residence). Demand C's presence at the meeting as the
politician responsible for the country's current situation.
- Invite independent reporters to C's
meeting at the Square of National Agreement in order to obtain
pictures and interviews.
C. Measures to reduce harmful
In addition to direct measures, the
following recommendations were made:
- Publish in newspapers and broadcast on
television the reports from C's meeting, for the purpose of alerting
the electorate’s attention to the following:
– the meeting included only C's supporters
– the meeting was not well attended
– the speeches included aggressive statements
– aggressive actions or intentions were demonstrated by C's
- Publish and broadcast reports of the
A few selected examples of the authors’
experiences in applying TRIZ to the area of political consulting have been
presented. The following conclusions can be drawn:
- Our colleagues I. Kholkin, L. Novickova,
V. Sibiriakov and others started applying TRIZ to politics in the
early 1990s, collaborating with candidates who became Parliament
deputies, future mayors and governors. The consulting project provided
by the authors during the 1996 election campaign was the first
application of TRIZ to support top-level politicians – i.e.,
- Due to the systemic nature of most TRIZ
tools and methods (AFD, ARIZ, operators, separation principles,
resources, etc.), TRIZ is as effective in politics as it is in
industry. Moreover, it provides a powerful antidote to psychological
inertia while stimulating creativity.
- A distinctive feature of election
consulting is the quick application of solutions and visibility
of results. The "solution providers" can see how their
recommendations were used and estimate their effectiveness in a real
- Even when recommendations are
implemented only partially or in a less suitable fashion effective
results can occur. The reason for this is that TRIZ solutions
are highly reliable; furthermore, the competition lacks the same
or even similar solutions.
The authors would like to thank their
colleagues, Dr. Victor Timoschenko and Dr. Vladimir Oleinikov, who were
members of the consulting team and also worked on this project.
We also wish to offer our special thanks to
Dr. Iouri Belski of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, for his
interest and helpful suggestions.
- Altshuller, G. S. 1984. Creativity as
an Exact Science. Translated by S. Williams. NY: Gordon and Breach
- Faer, S. 1998. Methods of Strategy
and Tactics of Election Campaign. (In Russian.)
- Kaplan, S., S. Visnepolschi, B. Zlotin,
A. Zusman. 1999. New Tools for Failure and Risk Analysis. Southfield,
MI: Ideation International Inc.
Proseanic received an MS in
mechanics from Kishinev Polytechnic Institute, Moldova in 1979. He became
a student of Genrich Altshuller, the founder of TRIZ, in 1981, and was
later one of the founders of the Kishinev TRIZ school. He was CEO of the
Kishinev company Progress, the first company to provide professional TRIZ
services. Mr. Proseanic has solved more than 1000 innovative problems for
various industries and is one of the most experienced TRIZ professionals
in applying TRIZ to business and management problems. Mr. Proseanic
managed several projects involving the application of TRIZ to solving
problems in banking (including information protection systems and
decision-making support for revealing prospective investment directions).
He was the manager in the application of TRIZ to decision-making
consulting in an election campaign. Mr. Proseanic is a winner of the
Soviet Union's National awards in science and innovation; he has 15 SU
author certificates and has authored numerous publications. He is
currently a project manager and one of the leading consultants for
Visnepolschi received an MS in
electronics from the Leningrad Institute of Precision Mechanics and Optics
in 1976. She became a student of Genrich Altshuller, the founder of TRIZ,
in 1983. One of her early contributions to TRIZ is the creation of a
working algorithm for TRIZ resources (together with B. Zlotin). She later
pioneered various projects in the application of TRIZ prediction methods
to the development of both industrial systems and businesses, including
the Moscow Stock and Commodity Exchange and the election campaign. Ms.
Visnepolschi has taught TRIZ for more than 15 years and has authored a
book and numerous publications. Since 1985, she has developed and applied
the TRIZ-based Anticipatory Failure Determination (AFD) methodology. Since
1997, she has been a project manager for Ideation International and the
designer of Ideation's AFD System software.