TRIZ as the Last Resort of an Irrelevant Boss !

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

Recently I received a letter from a vise president of a very well known company that develops software for wireless devices 1:

I ... realised that we were inexperienced in the management and practice of innovation. We have a director of research so I left the management to him and the newly appointed Research Manager. I decided to look into the practice of innovation. I discovered TRIZ and ordered some books for the library. ... Someone else pointed out that software writing is a bit like the construction phase of a civil engineering project ... So now I need to do research in how software is made and how quality levels are raised and maintained. ..."

Then he proceeded with a request for help with TRIZ training suitable for software engineers.

I was astonished at the fact that at the helm of such a reputable software company is the man who believes that developing software is similar to civil engineering. It reminded me the old Soviet joke: The newly appointed boss of a semi-conductor research facility asks subordinates how long they have been working on the problems of semi-conductors. "What, 10 years ? It is too long for semi-conductors" - he rebukes them, - "Switch immediately to the problems of conductors !"

The joke goes back to the 1950s. But such bosses did not cease to exist since then. Moreover, they apparently proliferated.

The paradox, however, is that being, naturally, the biggest obstacle to innovation at their companies, such bosses turn out to be the biggest champions and promoters of TRIZ in their organizations !

1 I omit the name of the company in order not to damage its reputation.