OXFORD STUPIDITY

Y. B. Karasik

Thought Guiding Systems Inc.
Ottawa, Canada
e-mail: karasik@sympatico.ca

I read the home page of "Oxford Creativity", a sponsor of the TRIZ-journal, with a mixed feeling of disgust and indignation: "The Russians' brilliant work on TRIZ", "The Russians developed TRIZ", "TRIZ, the Russian technique for creative problem solving", etc. etc.

When did the English have time to become the Russian nationalists ? - I initially wondered. But then I understood: the people at "Oxford Creativity" were probably facing the contradiction: the Russian Jews created TRIZ but they should not be mentioned (for whatever reasons). And they applied the British art of compromise to resolve this contradiction. As a result, everything was credited just to the Russians ! Exactly in the spirit of the Soviet era anecdote: "the Jews in Russia are subdivided into the filthy Jews and the great Russian scientists."

As is well known, TRIZ was born in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan. The founders were Altshuller and Shapiro. Afterwards, many other people in Baku joined them. Some of the people were Russian, some Armenian, some Azerbaijanian, but the vast majority were Jews. For the very simple reason: the Jews in the Soviet Union were prohibited from enrolling into the best universities and were discrimanted in all possible ways when they tried to make career in the traditional sciences. That is why, for many of them TRIZ turned out to be the only accessible outlet for their energy and talent. For these Jews, the claim that "the Russians developed TRIZ" is all but adding insult to injury.

But not only Jews may voice objections against the above claims by "Oxford Creativity". The Azerbaijanians, which also contributed to TRIZ, may take offence too.

That is why, a few month ago I sent a letter to that effect to the TRIZ-journal. But the editor refused to publish it and replied that by the Russians "Oxford Creativity" meant all Russian speakers. Suppose it is true. Then what is about the Azerbaijanians ? For them Russian was a second language and they would not accept such an excuse.

Nevertheless, after my protest, the mentioning of TRIZ as the Russian technique disappeared from the web site of "Oxford Creativity". It reappeared again after Igor Vertkin joined the company. Definitely not without his blessing or may be even on his initiative. Now nobody will any longer claim that the so called TRIZ-master contributed nothing to TRIZ.


Post Scriptum of August 2004: since the above article was first published in April 2002, "Oxford Creativity" expelled Mr. Vertkin and changed its web site to meet the above criticism.