Article Review:
Book Review: TRIZ: Through the Eyes of an American TRIZ Specialist, by Ralph Czerepinski

G. L. Filkovsky,
Nomura Securities International,
New York, USA

This book review ([1]) is interesting by itself because it is about the reviewer's ideas as much as, or even more then, about the book reviewed. These ideas touch some important points.

The reviewer starts by describing a TRIZ marketing problem. He says, "It's not the theory of TRIZ which is exciting; it is the euphoric experience of discovery of solutions to difficult problems." I fully agree with this statement. Then, I go a step farther: It's not the theory of TRIZ which is beautiful; it is a beauty of solutions. And farther: It's not TRIZ which solves the problems; it is the experience. And farther: It's not learning TRIZ which helps to solve problems; it is experience of solving problems. Finally: It's not TRIZ which is taught; it's problem solving. TRIZ is not a theory, laws, method, science, etc. of problem solving, but rather a way to organize and present for teaching the experience of problem solving. It is just a didactic solution for practicing problem solving in preparation to solving real problems.

The reviewer's analogy with swimming goes very well with this didactic view on TRIZ: to swim, one doesn't learn a theory of swimming but rather practice swimming, gradually developing his/her swimming skills, "preferably under the guidance of a good TRIZ [swimming] teacher who is considerably more experienced with it than the student".

This didactic view would answer the questions of the reviewer regarding "need for a good book that introduces TRIZ", "convincing in the value of TRIZ", "explaining TRIZ value", "examples of how TRIZ solved problems and how TRIZ predicted products". TRIZ has no value to a manager or to a student; it is only a teacher's tool. What should be introduced, explained and valued is, good problem solving skills. TRIZ did not solve problems or predicted products; people who learned and developed good problem solving and analysis skills, did. TRIZ helps to learn and develop these skills, but it's a means not a result, a process not a product, a tool not a benefit.

Hence, the marketing effort should be re-focused from marketing of TRIZ to marketing of good problem solving skills. Then, market TRIZ to the teachers of these skills.

In the second part of the review, the reviewer explains some problems of the reviewed book by difficulties of translation of some original TRIZ words and concepts from Russian. Here he is plain wrong: being myself a Russian speaker and a participant in the original TRIZ development, I can tell that these problems are genuine. The term "field" is used quite freely in the original TRIZ, pretty much for anything that has a potency to act or to cause an action. Its use is not consistent with "field" in physics and even not consistent inside TRIZ. Often, it actually means "potential energy", like in "mechanical field", which explains the physically awkward phrase, "Field (energy)". Being a science fiction writer rather than a scientist, Altshuller felt himself quite free in using scientific terms, and he was very creative in broadening their meaning and imaginative in making new ones. Hence, "Spheroidality", "Anti-weight", etc. Also, using of word play instead of logic is genuine to the original TRIZ, being often applied to "laws" and "principles" formulation and explanation as well as to case-studies interpretation and examples presentation.

Is it good or bad? The answer depends on one's view. In a "theoretical" view, it is very bad and should not be allowed in the theory of TRIZ. In the "didactical" view, who cares, if it helps to learn and develop the problem solving skills. I believe the latest was the Altshuller view.

R E F E R E N C E:

  1. Ralph Czerepinski, Book Review: TRIZ: Through the Eyes of an American TRIZ Specialist, The TRIZ-journal, May 2003.