Triptych by Darrell Mann

Y. B. Karasik,
Thought Guiding Systems Corp.,
Ottawa, Canada.

In April Darrell Mann made the world happy with not one but already three articles at once [1, 2, 3]. He providently praised Anti TRIZ-journal in advance. After this it is somehow uncomfortable for me to criticize them. But I will try nevertheless.

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

The first article of the trilogy, or rather triptych, is concerned with how often that or another of 40 principles occurs in contradiction matrix. Truly speaking, this issue is as important as that of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin (the topic hotly debated by medieval philosophers).

Indeed, firstly, 40 principles is not the latest word in TRIZ. Even back in the beginning of the 1970s Altshuller proposed 10 more principles before he abandoned collecting principles of resolving technical contradictions altogether. This fixation on just 40 principles is beyond comprehensible. Especially taking into account that authors of Anti TRIZ-journal time and again pointed out the transient character of 40 principles in Altshuller's work.

If Darrell Mann were a serious researcher, he would at very least include new principles in his matrix. But he did not do so. He looks like rather a worshipper of the matrix and 40 principles than a real researcher.

Secondly, it is not clear what is the practical value of such a fact as, say, principle 35 occurs more often in the matrix than principle 20. Darrell Mann claims that such facts give people indication of which principle is most likely to help. What logic led him to such a conclusion is hard to understand.

Trees with curved trunks occur in forests more often than trees with straight trunks. Does it mean that the former are more useful in shipbuilding than the latter ? Fools occur everywhere more often than clever people. Does it mean that fools are "most likely to help" in solving problems ? Darrell Mann should disclose the axioms of his logic to better appreciate the value of his research.

Thirdly, Darrell Mann attributes change in frequencies with which 40 principles occur in his matrix, as compared to Altshuller matrix, to some shift in the maturity of technology over the past 30 years. This shift to be sure happened in accordance with trends of evolution, especially Darrell Mann trend of complexity evolution. For example, Principle 5, Merging, occurs in his matrix more often than in Altshuller matrix. To Darrell Mann this means that most systems passed the point of "maximum viable complexity" on his complexity trend. That is why Merging prevails. In Altshuller's time, he believes, all systems were younger and there was less need in Merging.

In fact the difference in frequencies is due to other reasons. It seems to me that Darrell Mann compiled his matrix based on the analysis of inventions of all kinds, whereas Altshuller compiled his matrix based on the analysis of "strong" inventions only. He ignored all inventions of the 1st and 2nd level, where, by the way, Merging prevails. "Strong" inventions usually happen in system's youth. Altshuller wished to give inventors a tool of making strong inventions. What tool does Darrell Mann want to make the world happy with ? With a tool of making incremental inventions of the 1st level ?

The rest of the triptych can be safely flushed.

Indeed, the other two articles are pretty dull accounts of Darrell Mann's attempts at solving some problems and can be completely ignored. One of them has a peculiar title "Is TRIZ Useful For Generating Ecological Mitigation Solutions?" It is in vain to search for answer to this question in the article. Even the authors probably realized it. That is why they cunningly addressed the question to the readers.

R E F E R E N C E S:

  1. Darrell Mann, "Comparing The Classical and New Contradiction Matrix - Part 1- Zooming Out", April 2004 issue of TRIZ-journal.
  2. Darrell Mann, Ian Mitchell, Tom Pellereau, Narendra Nadha Reddy, "Limiting Contradictions In A Photographic Paper Manufacturing Process", April 2004 issue of TRIZ-journal.
  3. Frances Stuart, Darrell Mann, Dr David J Hill, "Is TRIZ Useful For Generating Ecological Mitigation Solutions?" April 2004 issue of TRIZ-journal.