Simple systems have clear purposes. The main function of a hammer is to hammer. But the main function of a complex system is often blurred and difficult to determine. Take, for example, the TRIZ community. Its purpose is not immediately obvious.
There are two concurrent views on it. The first one assumes that the TRIZ community is a system which ultimate function is to increase the ability of people to solve problems. The second one cynically believes that the main function of the TRIZ community is to make money for its functioners. Although making money does not necessarily contradict to making something else, TRIZ provides a litmus test for determining what the main function really is. This litmus test is patterns of evolution.
Let us assume that the main function of the TRIZ community is to help people to solve problems. Then the degree of ideality of such a system is given by the ratio
(the number of problems solved by TRIZ)/(the size of the TRIZ community)
According to TRIZ, the degree of ideality of any system has to increase over time. However, with respect to the above ratio, the opposite happens. The TRIZ community swells, whereas the number of problems reportedly solved by TRIZ drops. (Actually it was always zero despite the claims to the contrary but this is already another story.) Hence, either the TRIZ law of ideality is incorrect, or enhancing the ability of people to solve problems is not the main function of the TRIZ community.
Let us now test the hypothesis that making money for the TRIZ consultants/practitioners is the main function of the TRIZ community. Then ideality of such a system is measured by the ratio
(the amount of money earned by the TRIZ consultants and bureaucrats)/(the size of the TRIZ community)
According to the declarations of the TRIZ consultants themselves, they are flourishing. The revenues of the TRIZ organizations are growing up too. Especially from selling indulgences (a.k.a. TRIZ certificates) to the various sinners against the reason. Now they are proudly called certified TRIZ specialists, TRIZ level 1,2,or 3 experts, etc. It is widely believed that the growth in revenues outpaces the growth in the number of TRIZ practitioners. Hence, the above ratio is increasing, which confirms the view that making money is the main purpose of the TRIZ community.
The ideality litmus test turns out to be an indispensable tool of determining the real intentions. I predict that the time will come when it will be accepted in courts as a proof. But in the meantime it is interesting to apply it to other systems, not just to the TRIZ community. For example, to the contemporary economy. But this is already the topic of another editorial.