Michel Lecoq,
iTER Innovation Management Consultants,
Oupeye, Belgium

Before starting solving any problem (in the incubation phase, at the first steps of ARIZ) it is interesting to try to understand the causes of the problem. It is especially important when dealing with a subject that one does not master completely, in order not to make wrong decisions (not everybody sailing to India discovers America).

At first sight, one could fear that searching root cause will lead to a costly data acquisition process. It is true if during the process of root cause finding, we unconsciously change our objective of solving the problem into an objective of gathering more data "to better understand". It is only once solved that we understand a problem.

In a certain number of TRIZ workshops, I observed that, if we had better known the root causes, the solution process would not err in unproductive directions. (There is sometimes nothing to do with the cause itself: better understand that early.)

I recently bought from "Thought Guiding Systems Corp." a nice program conducting the mind thru the "Root Cause Finding" with heuristics leading rapidly to clarify the causes of the problem. This program conducts the questioning with a clever heuristic system. The classical questions:

are organized in a way that triggers your mind and quickly brings you to useful conclusions

This program is really a missing part in the TRIZ computer assisted tools. It works on my PC and my Mac Intosh (with some restriction on OS9) I expect this program to grow to more heuristics and can only recommend it to every problem solver.