Content By Akhilesh Gulati

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By: Akhilesh Gulati

Editor’s note: This article continues the series exploring structured innovation using the TRIZ methodology, a problem-solving, analysis, and forecasting tool derived from studying patterns of invention found in global patent data.

The monthly council meetings continued as different members shared their issues and experience in using the TRIZ structure to accelerate their innovation efforts. Some council members, however, had doubts about how it could apply to their industry or specific situations. At first they all assumed that innovation was something that applied to high-tech industries or research and development departments. But the applications discussed so far had been  practical and useful.

Akhilesh Gulati’s picture

By: Akhilesh Gulati

Editor’s note: This article continues the series exploring structured innovation using the TRIZ methodology, a problem-solving, analysis, and forecasting tool derived from studying patterns of invention found in global patent data.

T

he monthly innovation meeting commenced with Joyce, one of the council members and an executive in the insurance industry, reporting that her team was excited about the TRIZ solution the group had suggested to deal with the increase in claims processing.

Akhilesh Gulati’s picture

By: Akhilesh Gulati


Editor’s note: This article continues the series exploring structured innovation using the TRIZ methodology, a problem-solving, analysis, and forecasting tool derived from studying patterns of invention found in global patent data.

Coffee cups filled, the council members sat down, interested to hear how Joyce, an executive in the insurance industry, had been able to use the ideal final result (IFR) to find a solution for the increase in claims processing that resulted from a government regulation change.

Joyce restated the definition of IFR—a description of the best possible solution for the problem situation, regardless of the original problem’s constraintsand went on to say the initial remedy of training new people to handle the extra work was far from satisfactory. She and her team agreed that their IFR was to maintain quality work with no or reduced additional training. Their contradiction had come down to:
• They want more trained/excellent employees
• They don’t want more trained/excellent employees

Akhilesh Gulati’s picture

By: Akhilesh Gulati


Editor’s note: This article continues the series exploring structured innovation using the TRIZ methodology, a problem-solving, analysis, and forecasting tool derived from studying patterns of invention found in global patent data.

As the executive council got down to business for the day, Belinda summarized from last month’s session that the ideal final result (IFR) is a description of the best possible solution for the problem situation, regardless of the original problem’s constraints.

The council members recalled that last month’s structured innovation session highlighted the concepts of IFR and the contradiction matrix. As they had experienced, they could focus on a solution enabled by the IFR rather than pursuing the frustrating traditional route of brainstorming, then compromising on an “optimum” result. The IFR allowed them to think about what they would like to ideally achieve vs. why something could not be achieved.

Akhilesh Gulati’s picture

By: Akhilesh Gulati

Editor’s note: This article continues the series exploring the TRIZ methodology, a problem-solving, analysis, and forecasting tool derived from studying patterns of invention found in global patent data. TRIZ identifies 40 principles, of which the ideal final result is one.

After seeing the successes achieved by Belinda and Josh from using the problem-solving methodology TRIZ, members of the executive council wanted to learn more about the 40 principles that made up the process and the structure it provides for innovative solutions. They wanted to know how this approach differed or aligned with lean. So, true to their commitment, they brought in Henrietta, a TRIZ consultant, for their next monthly meeting.

The council members listed the reasons they were interested in creativity and innovation:
• Reduce time to market
• Improve return on investment
• Improve quality
• Solve problems

Akhilesh Gulati’s picture

By: Akhilesh Gulati

Editor’s note: This article continues the series exploring the TRIZ methodology, a problem-solving, analysis, and forecasting tool derived from studying patterns of invention found in global patent data. TRIZ identifies 40 principles, of which separation is one.

In an earlier article from this series, we learned that Belinda had heard about TRIZ, a tool for structured innovation. After learning more about the topic, she decided to try out one of the 40 principles: segmentation. It was the first principle and seemed doable. Now that Belinda had begun to understand the TRIZ approach to “structured innovation” and had her first validation, she wanted to start applying the methodology to other areas of her organization.

Akhilesh Gulati’s picture

By: Akhilesh Gulati

Editor’s note: This article is the first in a series exploring the TRIZ methodolgy, a problem-solving, analysis, and forecasting tool derived from studying patterns of invention found in global patent data. TRIZ identifies 40 principles, of which segmentation is one.

Faced with increasing competition in a market where reverse engineering is an everyday occurrence, Belinda realized her company would have to embrace innovation as a strategy, if it was to stay ahead of the competition. It was not enough to introduce new products every few years, where the cost of failure could be rather high. Rather, innovation had to become a way of life at her company. Easier said than done.

Belinda had heard about TRIZ—a problem-solving, analysis, and forecasting tool derived from studying patterns of invention found in global patent data—at an American Society for Quality (ASQ) meeting and found the concept interesting. After learning more about the topic, she decided to try out one of the 40 principles: segmentation. It was the first principle and seemed doable.

Akhilesh Gulati’s picture

By: Akhilesh Gulati

Brian had been running his machine shop as a third-tier supplier to the aerospace industry for more than 15 years, and it had been successful as a small shop. Over the years he had learned the importance of ongoing training and continuous improvement. He contracted with trainers and encouraged his people to take on quality improvement projects. He also partnered with the local professional development center to ensure his people could continue to hone their skills.

As the company grew, he brought in additional professional staff to handle operations and manage his supply chain better. Picking up on lean concepts, he held 5S events and supported setup reduction and other process improvement projects. Lately, he’d even put together an annual strategic plan.

However, Brian was troubled. He had begun to notice that results were not being sustained. He and his executive team were familiar with lean tools and concepts, and facilitated their employees through problem-solving sessions, but there were setbacks. The company leaders seemed to know what was wrong and the tools they could use to overcome the problems, but getting sustained results was proving to be a challenge.

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By: Akhilesh Gulati

Jerry, the president of a company that manufactured precision machine parts, noticed that the business environment had changed dramatically during the past four years. Although his company had done reasonably well in the aerospace industry, customers were taking longer to make buying decisions. When customers did commit to making purchases, they placed smaller orders and pushed for rock bottom prices.

Competitive pressures were felt throughout the company. Jerry was busier than ever meeting with customers, old and new, and trying to showcase products and services to domestic and international prospects. At the same time he was also trying to reduce costs, improve processes, provide innovative solutions, and motivate employees. As president, Jerry’s challenge through this changing customer behavior and the associated employee frustration was to ensure that his actions were consistent with his intended strategic direction and corporate mission.

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By: Akhilesh Gulati

Terry had been using lean techniques to improve his company for quite a while now. He’d held kaizen events, reduced inventory, provided training for his employees, and was quite pleased with the progress his organization had made.

However, he felt it was time move beyond this type of transformation—which was to provide his products and services more efficiently and effectively. While Terry and his organization were busy reducing nonvalue-added activities and increasing efficiencies, his competitors were busy rolling out an improved product by adding more value to it. He wanted his organization to be more innovative and constantly seek ways to improve or augment solutions for customers. Immediately, Apple came to mind; he wanted his people to exceed clients’ expectations by adding more value than expected. He had to get his organization to eliminate not only nonvalue-added work, but also act in ways that would significantly benefit clients’ businesses.