From:Valeri Souchkov (valeri@xtriz.com)
To:karasik@sympatico.ca
Sent:March 19, 2009 9:52:19 PM
Subject:your article: response

Dear Mr. Karasik,

Referring to the recent publication at your website where you mentioned my name, I never received a letter from you, therefore how could I reply? Probably, you used a wrong address or did not resend a letter after some time; I receive about 400 letters each day. I checked it but I did not find your message. I trust you sent me a message but it could be easily lost due to a huge volume of traffic.

And once again, at the Business Week website I gave some examples on the ideas born directly during a training session, and I do not know how they were used by my customers afterwards. These were customers of training and not of patent projects, I hope you can see the difference. In fact, the problem with a surgical tool was proposed by someone from a hospital, so I could foresee they wanted a better tool without intention to patent it. The point was that the customers felt happy at that time. My training sessions have other goals than making patents. I do not train people in applying for patents, but I do train in effective ways to solve problems and generate new ideas. Patents can only be considered as one of the metrics to evaluate success, and as we all know, a vast majority of patents have never been implemented, so it is quite a subjective metrics. In addition, I do not feel comfortable to discuss specific details in open publications unless I have permission from a customer, even if it was during a public training session. Do my customers find TRIZ effective? Let me cite one of my recent students:

Regarding specific success cases, you might read the article "ideLAB: THE DUTCH TRIZ EXPERIENCE". Definitely, you can immediately discard all these solutions as trivial, stupid, or whatever else. But alas, they all were found new and useful by our customers and all of them were successfully implemented. Regarding your statement that you could solve all the problems without TRIZ, I do believe that you have a capability to immediately solve any problem without any TRIZ. And I must admit - yes, I met a few such people throughout my life - they did not need TRIZ. They all were brilliant thinkers whose experience had come from a huge volume of diverse knowledge they absorbed and whom I used to call "natural born inventors". But the point is that the rest of the world is not like you or them, and many people really find TRIZ useful.

Millions of patents were made without any TRIZ. Rejecting a popular opinion, I have to say that TRIZ is not a tool for patents but a tool to help (it is important - to help!) solve problems and produce ideas. And not only for inventions. I know a number of cases where TRIZ was used to solve manufacturing problems without any intention to patent these ideas to avoid disclosing information for competitors. And probably you know that most of technical problems addressed by TRIZ have been from manufacturing areas. If you look at Russian TRIZ literature you will see that approximately 80-90% of TRIZ solutions address manufacturing.

However, does using a pencil should be mentioned to help making inventions? Sure, we can draw a new concept with the pencil, so why not? Or reading a book on creativity which might trigger thinking and lead to a great idea? The difference is, that TRIZ is, first of all, an analytical and a thinking tool. It does not offer solutions in form of patentable ideas. Who said that? These ideas are produced by people, and a role of TRIZ is to boost and enhance their thinking process, first of all. TRIZ will never replace professional knowledge. Thus in many cases, TRIZ does not have to be directly linked to patents obtained with the help of TRIZ because TRIZ is only a part of a process which involves much broader set of tools and activities. I observed many times as TRIZ helped to relax mental constraints to help come up with a totally new idea which was not based neither or 40 principles or 76 standards - so can we say, a solution was based on TRIZ? Probably not, but TRIZ played a crucial role to start thinking in a new direction.

The real power of Altshuller's approach is not in solutions, but in the analytical part. Once we understand what causes a problem, what exactly should be changed, we can solve the problem. Once we recognize and understand a blocking contradiction, or a network of contradictions, we can deal with them. We can cope with what we understand. Another advantage of TRIZ is introduction of a holistic approach to seeing things, as it is done in System Operator. Let's say, while western (European) way of thinking used to focus on objects, the eastern (Asian) way used to focus on relationships between objects rather than on the objects themselves. TRIZ managed to introduce an integral approach, that's why it outperforms other competitive tools and techniques based on brainstorm or other ideas.

I wish you good luck with further studies if TRIZ is effective. But probably, to do it you should speak directly with people who uses TRIZ, not with TRIZ trainers or consultants who are mostly interested to promote themselves. That's why do not ignore major TRIZ events, a number of which are conducted annually. So far I have not noticed that you participated in any of them, but there you have a chance to meet quite a number of TRIZ users who might be willing to directly share their experience with you in a personal way without any distortion. Still, all my experience shows that TRIZ is a niche discipline and can only be effectively used by those who are willing to expand their horizons, learn hard, and be open enough to adapt new ways of thinking. What is a percentage of such people? Right, too little.

Please do not write me personally by e-mail, I know your policy to publish private communication at your website so I will not reply. It is not my fear, I am ready to participate in open and sincere discussion but to me this particular case does not seem to be appropriate - especially, when labels are put straightforward without knowing additional information. And I do not think it is necessary: I am sure we have all points clear and have a lot of other more useful things to do. I do not need to prove or discuss if TRIZ is effective: I have 160 customer companies most of which already defined if TRIZ is effective or not.

Best regards,

Valeri Souchkov

PS. If you wish, you can publish this letter in your journal, I have no objections.