From patterns of evolution to patterns of questioning

I was a member of the research laboratory on inventive creativity (OLMI) headed by G.S. Altshuller from 1973 to 1980. Under his guidance I learned to successfully solve problems by ARIZ (and TRIZ). The problem which Altshuller used to give, of course. However, I never learned to apply TRIZ to problems from my field of expertise. Whenever I tried to, TRIZ schemes led me nowhere.

Not that I was unsuccessful problem solver in my area. I did solve problems. And did it even better than others. But not by TRIZ. Eventually I started to wonder: how do I solve real problems, not those which Altshuller proposes ? Self-observation yielded some results: I was asking myself various questions. There were patterns in questions I asked. However, at that time I have not gotten ripe to document these patterns.

Once, about 1980, Altshuller again gave me a problem to solve. That was the first time that I started to search for a solution in the manner I got used to in my area of expertise. Altshuller angrilly interrupted me: "You are trying to solve it by trials and errors," - he said, - "I do not need it. I need the search for a solution to be conducted by TRIZ". I gave up.

The label of "trials and errors" was attached and I did not dare to start documenting my way of thinking for another 10 years. Then freedom came. Freedom from Altshuller labels included. I started to analyse the patterns of questions I asked myself when searching for a solution to a problem.

From this investigation a project was born: to program these patterns into a thoughts guiding software. Each pattern is a thread of thought. Multiple therads run in the brain of problem solver concurently. Some interrupt others. Some are put on hold until something triggers their resumption. Etc., etc., etc. (Programmers, do not confuse threads of thought with threads of execution, though !)

The entire software that emulates such multi-threaded patterns of questioning is still not for sale. However, some particlular stand alone threads were recently transformed into commercial products. One of them is "Root Cause Finder", which emulates patterns of questions, which good analysts ask themselves when searching for root causes of problems.

Another one is "Undesired Effect Modeller". Thought Guiding System Corp. is planning to launch it later this year. After that the first bi-threaded product incorporating both "Root Cause Finder" and "Undesired Effect Modeller" patterns of questioning will be made available commercially. To the disapointment of the fans of "mono-bi-poly" trend, though, "Thought Guiding Systems Corp." currently does not have plans to commercialize poly-threaded products in the foreseeable future.

The above should give some pointers to the numerous spies and agents of other companies that design and sell TRIZ based software. They bombard the corporation with questions about what principles its software is based on, etc. The answer is this: not those, which you are familiar with, and not those, which you would be able to easily reproduce.