TRIZ IN THE
WORLD: HISTORY, CURRENT STATUS, AND
ISSUES OF CONCERN
Valeri Souchkov, ICG Training
& Consulting, The Netherlands
© November 2016
of this paper is available (2 MB)
was originally presented as a keynote lecture and published in the Proceedings
of the 8th International Conference “TRIZ: Application Practices and
Development Issues” on November 11-12, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Kudryavtsev A.,
Ed.: ISBN 978-5-906845-80-8, in Russian)
The year of 2016 was celebrated as first, the 60th
anniversary of foundation of TRIZ since the first paper on TRIZ “About Psychology of Inventive Thinking” was
published by Genrich Altshuller [Altshuller 1956]. Second, 25 years ago TRIZ started
its journey beyond the countries of former USSR where it was created.
In this paper, I attempted to summarize key factors which produced
impact on the of evolution of TRIZ during these 25 years of worldwide expansion
as well as its consequences which brought TRIZ and its global community to
where they are now. On the one hand, it is quite a long period of time, and a
lot of things have been achieved. On the other hand, TRIZ is a complicated
knowledge- and information-intensive discipline that requires significant time
and effort to be developed, understood, and implemented.
Note that this paper does not discuss internal details of TRIZ, it
focuses on how TRIZ has been interacting with its supersystem.
In the first part of this article, I tried to give an overview of
this 25-year period through the lens of personal experience. The limited format
of the paper does not allow one to mention and describe all the important facts
and list all the names. Therefore, I focused mostly on main issues and critical
aspects that created today’s situation.
The second part of this paper focuses on the analysis of the
current status of integrating TRIZ into business, science, and education. It
also summarizes relevant issues related to TRIZ development, distribution and
adoption that were identified during multiple talks and discussions with my colleagues,
business partners, and customers about further improvement and development of
TRIZ. Some ideas on how to overcome current challenges are mentioned.
HISTORY OF TRIZ DISTRIBUTION
BEYOND COUNTRIES OF FORMER USSR
STAGES OF TRIZ EXPANSION
Today, we can distinguish four conventional stages that
contributed to international spread of TRIZ from 1991 to 2016. Each of the four
stages is described in more details below.
Fig 1. Four stages of TRIZ distribution in the world, including
examples of key companies and organizations, participating in the process.
TRIZ was presented outside the USSR in 1980s for the first time in
several books by Genrich Altshuller, published in the English and German languages.
Though they didn’t spread widely back then, in some countries people became
interested in works of Genrich Altshuller, mostly, in the academic environment.
A pioneer in delivering a message about TRIZ was, undoubtedly,
Invention Machine Corporation that was founded by a company called Invention
Machines Lab from Minsk, Belarus, in 1991. The Minsk-based company released Invention Machine™ software, which had
been developed by joint efforts of software developers team, Minsk-based TRIZ
School headed by Nikolai Khomenko, and a number of TRIZ experts from St.
Petersburg, Kishinev, Krasnoyarsk. The company actively attracted the whole
Russian-speaking TRIZ community to its activity. The founder of the company was
Dr. Valery Tsourikov; I was one of its co-founders.
The opening of the company abroad was driven not so much by an
attempt to expand sales as by historical (or economic) circumstances: after the
dissolution of the USSR, the economy of the CIS countries began to fall into
decay rapidly, investments to industry were drastically curtailed, sales of
Invention Machine decreased, and the company had to survive. In 1993, the headquarters
of Invention Machine Lab moved to Boston, Massachusetts, the USA.
The sales of Invention Machine in the USA left much to be desired
for a while. As a matter of fact, the software was a good supportive instrument
of problem solving with the help of classical TRIZ tools, but it worked
efficiently only in the hands of those users who had already familiarized
themselves with TRIZ well enough. One of the problems was that TRIZ training
was not brought to a satisfactory level. The duration of the training on how to
use Invention Machine software package was only two days, which was enough only
to gain some insight into the product and understand which buttons to press and
when. We could not propose longer training, as American companies were not used
to invest too much time for software product training.
Simultaneously with the development of Invention Machine, the
company offered consulting services. In charge of such services was a
department created by attracting resources of St. Petersburg TRIZ School headed
by Dr. Simon Litvin.
Nevertheless, despite all the difficulties of a starting period,
Invention Machine Corporation acquired quite famous clients in the first years
of its activity: it suffice to name such companies as Caterpillar, Eastman Kodak,
Ford Motor Company, Motorola, Procter & Gamble, Xerox. In 1998, a
high-profile business magazine Fortune included
Invention Machine Corporation in the list of 12 most innovative companies of
the USA [Fortune 1998].
Adapting to the market requirements, Invention Machine has been
constantly developing throughout its history, and the titles of the product
changed as well: first, Invention Machine™
evolved to TechOptimizer™, then CoBrain™, then Goldfire™ Innovator. After 2012, when Invention Machine Corporation
was acquired by American company IHS Markit, one of the world leaders in
technical information analysis. Currently the software is known as IHS Goldfire™ designed primarily for the
market of large corporate clients. Though IHS
Goldfire™ still supports classical TRIZ tools, it focuses mostly on the
development of semantic search engine which finds relevant solution concepts
and ideas in various technical fields [IHS 2016].
Almost at the same time as Invention Machine Corporation was established
in the USA, one more company, offering TRIZ-based software products and
consulting services, was founded in the USA in 1992: Ideation International,
created on the basis of Kishinev TRIZ school, headed by Boris Zlotin and Alla Zusman.
Same as it was with Invention Machine, Ideation International had to overcome
problems and challenges related to a high barrier to entry the American market,
in order to develop the company and promote its products and services. The
company released its own framework called Ideation/TRIZ
(I-TRIZ) and software to support it called TRIZSoft™ that included problem solving system Innovation Workbench™, forecasting system Directed Evolution™, system of preliminary analysis of anticipated
failures Anticipatory Failure Determination™,
and some other software packages. Among the company clients were such companies
and organizations as BP Amoco, Boeing, Ford Motor Company, NASA, Xerox.
Ideation International still exists and continues to offer and deliver its
services and products [Ideation 2016].
At the same time, many TRIZ Masters – co-developers and students
of G. Altshuller arrived to the USA, such as Victor Fey, Isaak Bukhman, Gregory
Ezersky, and others, who founded their own companies to offer TRIZ-based
training and consulting services.
More details on the history of TRIZ development can be found in
have successfully expanded beyond the former USSR to the developed and
innovation-intensive countries without being promoted as a software product? I believe
the chances would be quite low. Especially, in corporate environment, where
there is no opportunity to invest much time in personnel training and where it
is necessary to assess the results in the shortest time possible based on
financial achievements only. Nevertheless, one of the resources back then was
that industrial companies allocated considerable budgets to invest to the software
tools for productivity increase. It was why a software product had much better
chances to penetrate into a company rather than a method or a practice being delivered
only in the form of training or consulting services. The competition is very
strong at this market, and the interest for any new method or tool may
disappear quickly if there are no large investments into its continuous advertisement,
promotion and update. Non-software based TRIZ products were absolutely not
ready for it. On the other hand, academic community rather than industry could
have been a channel of TRIZ distribution, but there were challenges in that area,
too. They will be described below.
Interest of Academic Environment
The information that big corporations had purchased TRIZ-based
software products and developed some successful cases began to spread at some
point, and the second stage of interest to TRIZ started: academic organizations
and universities became interested in learning more about TRIZ. Among them,
there were the University of Twente (The Netherlands), the Technical University
of Strasbourg (France), Ecole Polytechnique of Paris (France), Wayne State
University (USA), MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (Sweden), Brno
University of Technology (Czech Republic), Technical Universities of Bergamo
and Florence (Italy), Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (Australia), and
other. As a rule, technical universities actively cooperate with industries, so
the information about TRIZ began to spread through academic channels as well.
In 1993, being a coordinator of Invention Machine project, I came
to the Netherlands, where a joint project between the University of Twente and
Invention Machine Corporation was launched to further develop a fundamental
platform with the use of cutting-edge means of Artificial Intelligence. In five
years, in 1998, the project ceased to exist due to the changes in the strategy
of Invention Machine Corporation, according to which the funding of product
sales was strengthened by reducing investments to advanced research related to
TRIZ. Nevertheless, during those years, we managed to widely spread the
information about TRIZ in the academic environment by having access to
international knowledge exchange channels. In 1996, we founded the TRIZ European Research Network, which
later on partially evolved to the European
TRIZ Association (ETRIA).
Another important milestone of that time was the launch of the TRIZ Online Journal project [Journal
TRIZ 2016] by Dr. Ellen Domb (USA) which remains the main source of TRIZ
information spread in the English-speaking community till today. Access to any
article published in the journal has always been and remains free and
registration is not required. It is not a scientific but a technical journal,
and I must admit that the quality of the articles varies, but such “democratic
nature” of the journal gives everyone who speaks English an opportunity to have
access to free of charge information about TRIZ and to publish own results of
research or case studies.
Interest of Professional Community, Foundation of Companies, Offering TRIZ Services
The next stage of TRIZ expansion was related to growing interest
in TRIZ among consultants and professionals who dealt with the issues of improving
quality of engineering products and processes. They were attracted with an
opportunity to use TRIZ for accelerating of finding solutions to quality
improvement problems. Moreover, the necessary solutions were not of the highest
level from TRIZ point of view, but it was exactly what attracted them – TRIZ helped
to find solutions with quite a high degree of ideality, which in real life
meant quick implementation. In different countries, businesses emerged that
offered TRIZ-based services on their own without attracting Russian-speaking
It shall be noted here that exactly an opportunity to use TRIZ for
solving quality-related problems gave driving force to wider spread of TRIZ in
the world. Back then this field appeared to be far more interested in TRIZ than
other fields which require engineering creativity, for example, new product
development. It happened thanks to strong improvement of finding simple but working
solutions that could be implemented quickly. Quality management still remains one
of the main areas where TRIZ is demanded. Several global corporations such as
Samsung, POSCO, General Electric have implemented TRIZ in their quality
management processes built on the basis of Six Sigma and Lean methods.
Meanwhile, a problem related to distribution of TRIZ and its
mastering, and namely - necessity to invest significant time in the training of
theory and tools led to the foundation of dozens of companies, offering
simplified TRIZ versions: SIT, ASIT, CreaTRIZ, USIT, DreamTRIZ, and so on. The common
strategy of those companies was ordinary: to simplify TRIZ as much as possible,
to bring only a single tool to the market, that everyone will understand
easily, and promote it quickly, leaving competitors behind. It did not lead to
roaring success, because problem solving and innovation-related abilities of
such versions remain quite doubtful, especially when it comes to problems,
requiring high-level solutions. Nothing is heard of some of them today.
On the other hand, one of the leading companies on the global
market which offered consulting services and at the same time continued to
develop TRIZ, was GEN3 (Boston, Massachusetts, USA). Though the company also
worked with a modified version of TRIZ, its version was not a simplification
but an adaptation and further development according to the requirements of businesses
and organizations which are engaged to continuous innovation. GEN3 developed
and successfully launched such new tools as Function-Oriented Search, Main
Parameters of Value Discovery, and so on. Today TRIZ services are offered by
the spin-off of GEN3, a company GEN TRIZ headed by Dr. Simon Litvin, a former
student and colleague of Altshuller [GEN TRIZ 2016].
In the same period of time, the number of TRIZ publications began
to grow rapidly, especially publications of books in English and other
languages. Those were translations of books originally written in Russian and
published before, for example several books by Genrich Altschuller (“The Algorithm of Invention”, published
in English as “The Innovation Algorithm”,
and “And Suddenly the Inventor Appeared”),
the book by Dr. Yuri Salamatov (“How to
Learn to Invent”, published in English as “TRIZ: The Right Solution at the Right Time”), as well as new
books, written both by Russian- and non-Russian-speaking authors. Among
Russian-speaking authors of that time, the book by Boris Zlotin and Alla Zusman
“Tools of Classical TRIZ” and the
book by Dr. Dmitry Savransky (US) “Engineering
of Creativity” are worth mentioning. The book “Hand-on Systematic Innovation for Technology and Engineering” by
Darrel Mann (UK) published in 2001 had quite a big impact on TRIZ distribution.
Nowadays, the list of books about TRIZ is quite long. In 2012, my list included
over 200 titles of the books in 40 different languages about TRIZ. Nowadays,
the books in Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Arabic languages are being actively
1.1.4. Fourth Stage:
Development of TRIZ Networks and Associations
The next, fourth stage was the development of TRIZ networks and associations
at regional, international, and corporate levels. In 1998, the non-profit Altshuller Institute was established in
the USA. In 2000, the European TRIZ
Association ETRIA was established, which set the target to develop
cooperation between academic and industrial TRIZ communities. Since then,
associations began to emerge almost everywhere: TRIZ Association of France, Apeiron Italian TRIZ Association,
German-Austrian TRIZ-Kampus, Society of Systematic Innovation in
Taiwan, TRIZ Association in Thailand,
TRIZ Society of Japan, Korean TRIZ Association, TRIZ associations
were launched in India, Mexico, Malaysia, Poland.
Fig.2. MyTRIZ Malaysian
TRIZ Association organizes a conference about TRIZ biyearly. More than 800
participants attended the conference.
In addition to regional associations, corporate TRIZ associations
were established, for example at General Electric, Intel, Philips, POSCO,
Siemens, Samsung. Some of those associations have become and still remain the
members of the International TRIZ Association (MATRIZ).
Thanks to the creation and development of national and
international TRIZ networks, it became possible to organize large international
conferences annually. The most significant of them are:
· MATRIZ TRIZfest
International Conference, main organizer: The International TRIZ Association (MATRIZ).
TRIZ Future Global
Conference, main organizer: The European TRIZ Association (ETRIA).
Symposium in Japan, main organizer: TRIZ Society of Japan.
Innovation Congress, held annually in Latin American Countries and
focusing mostly on TRIZ.
Innovation Conference, main organizer: Society of Systematic Innovation in Taiwan.
Conference in the USA, main organizer: The Altshuller Institute.
In addition to that, annual national conferences and symposiums
are organized in Argentina, Germany, China, France, South Korea, and other
Fig. 3. Photographs taken at international TRIZ conferences in
GEOGRAPHY OF TRIZ EXPANSION
One cannot say that TRIZ has evenly spread around the world. At
some point, in some place people would become interested in TRIZ, then their
interest would fade away, then it could rise again. In general, the following
picture can be observed:
Fig. 4. History of TRIZ distribution in the world over the last 25
2.1. TRIZ IN
As it was mentioned before, Samsung Electronics has been so far
the biggest TRIZ user in the world. As of September 2015, 32881 employees of
the company received TRIZ training in the company (5581 of them – at the levels
higher than basic). Starting with 2012, 6 employees of the company were
qualified as Level 5 TRIZ specialists by the International TRIZ Association (MATRIZ)
and became TRIZ Masters [MATRIZ 2016]. It is sufficient to say that the total
number of people qualified as level 5 TRIZ specialists since 2012 till 2017 was
23. Some Samsung employees participated in 100 and more innovative projects
where TRIZ was used. In due time some other Korean companies took up Samsung’s
initiative and began to implement TRIZ as well. Among such companies we can
name Hyundai, POSCO, LG Group.
Today, we can name several thousands of companies around the world
that used or use TRIZ.
The list is quite long. Among them, there are both big global companies and
companies of medium and small size. Among global companies, we can name such as
BMW, Bombardier, Boeing, Continental, Daimler Chrysler, European Space Agency, Ford
Motor, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, Exxon Mobile, Intel, Mars,
Medtronic, Philips, Procter & Gamble, Shell, Unilever, Xerox. However, it
was by far not in every company that TRIZ was used on an on-going basis or
systematically. In the majority of cases, it was used on and off, on an
occasional basis. The reason is not so much in TRIZ itself, as in the way
innovative projects are organized in the companies. The majority of
organizations still do not view innovative activity as a process that shall be
on-going or they do not understand how to integrate TRIZ in their activity.
Back in the day, the growing market demand for TRIZ services,
especially on the regional markets, led to the growing number of companies
offering TRIZ-based services. The list of such companies in the world (excluding
the CIS countries), which was prepared in 2013, contained over 100
organizations [Souchkov 2013]. The country with the largest number of
companies, offering TRIZ-based services, was the USA (27), then South Korea
(18), then Great Britain (8), and Japan (7). However, it should be noted that
many of them offer TRIZ-based services as a part of a bigger portfolio of
consulting services in quality management, business process innovations, and so
It must be noted that TRIZ plays a special role in small and
medium enterprises. Global corporations have big budgets and a lot of resources
that can be allocated to resolve complicated problems when it is needed,
whereas smaller companies usually have no access to such resources. At the same
time they still have to solve inventive problems, especially when a company
works on implementing a high-level innovative idea. Today, the number of startups,
offering breakthrough ideas is constantly growing. But the vast majority of
them do not survive. One of the main reasons is lack of available resources to
solve numerous problems that should be tackled to ensure the implementation of
the main idea and bringing it to market. In such cases TRIZ can be an answer
thanks to its capability of providing quick search for most effective and
efficient solutions without too much internal and external resource spent.
TRIZ AND EDUCATION
Speaking about TRIZ in education, we should differentiate between
two education levels, each requiring its own methods and approaches. The first
one is teaching in the academic environment: at colleges and universities. The
second one is professional education, which is more commonly referred to as
“training”. The education at the universities focuses on theoretical basis
first and only then on methods and tools, whereas in professional education,
theoretical basis is usually explained very briefly because of the lack of time
and absence of necessity. Modern professional education requires teaching a
person how to use a tool in as short a time as possible. That is why, in modern
professional education, the ratio between theory and practice constantly moves
towards practice, and nowadays it is approximately 20 to 80.
Here comes a contradiction. On the one hand, TRIZ is not only a
set of tools. It is also a system of thinking, which is hard to master without
understanding of its theoretical basis. On the other hand, the time given to
education does not give an opportunity to learn theory to the fullest extent,
which would be enough to use TRIZ tools as efficient as possible. Such
contradiction can be eliminated, for example, by separation of conflicting
demands: a student can learn theory on his/her own, using books or
video-lectures before the workshop, and only then come to a practical training.
However, the experience shows that in such case there are sub-tasks: more often
than not students come to a workshop and say honestly that they did not have
enough time to prepare for it. They say: “Let me practice now, and I will read
about it later”. Usually, it happens so at professional training. The problem
is that by far not everyone actually reads after the training workshop. This
contradiction still waits to be eliminated.
The first TRIZ programs in Western European and US universities were
introduced in 1994-1995. In some universities, they disappeared; in some – they
remained; in some – they develop further.
Many universities implemented TRIZ introductory courses and
conduct them. At the end of 2013, we counted over 120 universities on all the
continents (except for CIS countries) registered in our database, where TRIZ
was included in the curriculum to a certain extent. In the vast majority of
cases, it was either an introductory elective course, or TRIZ was a part of a
wider course program, such as Innovation Management, New Product Development
and so on. Such courses include programs with duration from 8 to 32 hours. Of
course, the time is little but at least it gives students an opportunity to
learn that TRIZ exists and understand what it is about.
In 1998, I was invited by the University of Twente (The
Netherlands) to give an introductory 16-hour course once per year for master
students majoring in Industrial Engineering Design and Technology Management.
Since then, the situation has changed. Currently, I give several courses
annually: introductory courses (8-16 hours) for second-year and master
students, as well as an 82-hour course for master students called “TRIZ Basics:
Theory and Practice” that can be expanded up to 134 hours [Wits 2010].
Moreover, this course is partially open for professionals. Teaching is done in
the form of “full immersion”, which means that students are taught this course
for at least eight hours
a day, and continue next day during two weeks.
Such format allows professional engineers and scientists to participate in the
course as well. As approximately 60% of the course is practice, students use TRIZ to solve real-life problems and develop inventive solutions. Such an approach allows bringing together students and professionals in mixed groups.
Often students work on real industrial problems, which professionals bring
along, and find rather interesting solutions. There were cases when after the
graduation from the university, students found jobs in the departments of the
companies, with which representatives they had studied together at such course.
As far as the development of professional TRIZ education is
concerned, its introduction was a bit slow, too. The entry market barrier was
quite high due to the following reasons:
strong competition. In modern world, professional education is developing very actively,
which means that a lot of study subjects are being offered on the market.
Companies usually plan 20-40 hours for the training of a specialist per year.
It is not much, taking into account a huge number of professional courses available.
That's why TRIZ education has to compete not even so with trainings in different
invention and innovation methods, as with all kinds of training proposals in
general, including such course
as “How to Make a
Presentation”, for example.
method of training, which was used back in the USSR and was based on the
academic schedule «Day: theory; evening: homework», was not efficient in the
countries of Western Europe and in the USA. As I have already mentioned above,
modern professional education is based primarily on practice. To do so, all the
training material should be presented and structured very precisely and
clearly: all the tools should be described step by step, processes shall be
described with all entries and exits, focus should be made and special
attention should be paid to places, where “bottlenecks” might appear in the
process. Cases offered for training should be checked and worked through by the
teacher. Moreover, it would be highly advisable if these were cases come from
his or her own experience. Today, a teacher of professional courses acts more
like a coach, than a teacher in the academic environment: his/her task is to
teach students how to use processes, methods, and tools at the time when
students are studying cases. The goal is to master the skills of working with
processes and tools within a short period of time.
3. Lack of
understanding how to use the material learned in the future and how to
integrate new skills and knowledge in the activity of their organization. This
leads to a situation, when a trained specialist comes back to a working place
and continues to work in the same old way. So, new knowledge and skills
disappear and are never used again. In order to overcome this barrier it is
necessary to understand how TRIZ can be integrated in the existing business
processes of organizations.
4. Lack of
support from top management when it comes to corporate training. If the idea to
launch TRIZ training in the company is a grassroots initiative, then the most
probable scenario is that after several courses everything freezes, even if
trained specialists give high points to a course, its content and a trainer. In
order to vertically implement TRIZ in an organization, strong support of top management
5. Lack of
highly qualified TRIZ teachers and trainers. Unfortunately, sometimes I have to
«retrain» already trained students more than once. As classical TRIZ teaching
does not require a license, there appeared a lot of teachers back in the days
who developed their programs based on one or two books they had read, and one
or two problems they had solved or helped to solve. However, such teachers
usually disappear quickly, but sometimes they manage to create a stir.
I tried to list the key reasons only, though there are many other
smaller reasons: lack of a unified base for TRIZ teachers and trainers, inconsistencies
between different versions of the same TRIZ tools, lack of coordination between
TRIZ teachers, lack of a general training program.
One of the problems was that before 2007, trusted international
certification of trained TRIZ users was not available. But thanks to the
initiative of Dr. Mark Barkan, President of the International TRIZ Association
(MATRIZ) at the time, this problem was solved. Introduction of international
certification eventually led to a higher demand for professional certification TRIZ
training, especially in corporate environment.
Fig. 5. Growth of certified TRIZ users in the world on the basis
of MATRIZ data (with consent of B. Goldense) [Goldense 2015]
Among the most famous companies that trained hundreds and
thousands of their employees, there are Boeing, European Space Agency, Ford
Motor Company, General Electric, Hyundai, Intel Corp., LG, Procter and Gamble,
As it was mentioned above, Samsung Company achieved so far the strongest
results in corporate TRIZ training. The company founded a corporate TRIZ
university and introduced a position of TRIZ Engineer.
Fig. 6. History of TRIZ training at Samsung Electronics,
2001-2015. The slide is taken from the presentation of Vice-President of
Samsung Electronics Dong Seob Jang at TRIZfest
Public (open) certification training has not yet reached the level
of corporate education. The main problem is to gather people in a group for
training. The main issues of concern are: lack of sufficient publicly available
information about TRIZ itself (mostly in mass media: magazines, TV, websites)
and what TRIZ knowledge and skills give to a professional, as well as narrow
market segment. We will discuss it a bit
later in the paper.
In 2011, I started an experiment with online TRIZ learning. It
does not seem to be possible to make a fully automated TRIZ learning right now,
not because there are no technologies, but because TRIZ is a weakly formalized
discipline. Unlike learning math or physics where problems have one or at least
several solutions which can be calculated in advance and then the student’s
solutions can be checked against them, TRIZ deals with open problems and it is
not possible to predict a correct (or, “the best”) solution in advance. Thus, I
decided to choose a blended approach: students have access to all the lectures
in the form of video, perform homework, and all discussions and homework assessment
is done online individually with a trainer (or in a small group of students).
The online training is based on the training programs and curricula approved by
the International TRIZ Association (MATRIZ).
One of the main advantages of such method is time flexibility, as
time of online sessions is planed dynamically, when a student is going through
the course. The efficiency of such training method proved to be quite high, the
results were better than during traditional training organized in a classroom.
It is obvious: in the classroom, trainers do not have time to talk and work individually
to each student. One more advantage is that students analyze their real-life
problems or problems of their organizations in course of training, and
solutions found are often patented later. In 2015, one of my students from UK
made 7 patent applications during the course of training while 5 solutions were
later implemented. Summarizing, I can say that the experiment has proved to be
quite successful and it still goes on: more than 300 people from 40 countries were
trained over the period of four years.
Fig.7. Demand for various courses delivered by distance learning
at ICG T&C, 2012-2016 (Technology TRIZ Level 3 course was introduced in
Fig. 8. Number of people from different countries who took
distance training from ICG T&C, 2012-2016
TRIZ AND SCIENCE
As the majority of TRIZ specialists know, G. Altshuller positioned
TRIZ as a science of technical creativity. However, if we look at TRIZ from the
point of view of modern understanding of science and a broad range of demands
and requirements which are used to confirm scientific validity of research, method
or theory, we can say that at the moment, TRIZ is a well-developed science only
by a stretch of imagination. I personally spent many hours discussing this
topic with academic specialists, including professors of the universities who
took decision to get to know TRIZ better back in the days. The general outcome
of those discussions is that today, TRIZ may not be recognized as a science yet
from the Western European point of view (However, a note shall be made: in different
cultures and philosophic systems, the notion of science may have its nuances
and interpretations: for example, psychology is not everywhere regarded as a
Nevertheless, massive studies of big amount of technical data and
information with a goal to discover new, earlier unknown, patterns of invention
has been a truly scientific approach. Unfortunately, the authors of such studies
did not always publish the information about the quantity or categories of
analyzed information, about assessment criteria, they did not compare their
conclusions with already existing knowledge and methods, often avoided
quotations, did not specify boundary conditions for the use of methods and
tools, and so on. And even if we intuitively think that formulated principles
and methods are correct, anyway their applicability and workability shall be
proved for the results to be regarded as scientific. The fact that these
methods are often successfully used in real life is not yet a proof from the
point of view of modern western European system of scientific knowledge. At
least, as long as their applicability and usefulness are not proved by
For example, the majority of laws of technical systems evolution
formulated by Altshuller are heuristics. TRIZ does not define exactly under
which circumstances one or another TRIZ law would exhibit itself or fail to do
so. But the notion of a “law” in exact sciences means that it inevitably
manifests itself under specific conditions. For example, the TRIZ
Law of Increase of the Degree of Dynamics of a
technical system’s parts usually manifests itself when a technical system has
to meet increased demands but they may not be met by the existing physical and
engineering design of the system. If it was defined and described under which exactly
conditions the law would inevitably manifest itself, then the notion of using
the word “law” would be appropriate. But it has not been done yet except
definitions which are too general.
Modern scientific approach requires accurate argumentation based
on the statistical analysis of information, if it is hard or impossible to use
formal methods. In the majority of works by TRIZ authors there is nothing about
it. It was one of the reasons why, though initially the attitude of academic
environment towards accepting TRIZ as a science was positive, it was dissolved
partly by some degree of skepticism as the academic community is used to modern
way of describing and presenting scientific results.
However despite different views on the issue of how far TRIZ is
developed as a scientific discipline, TRIZ is present and studied in academia. The
first attempt to coordinate TRIZ-related research in European academic
environment was made by me in 1996, when the European TRIZ Research Network was created with the following
institutions becoming its members: the University of Twente (The Netherlands),
KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (Sweden), Norwegian University
of Science and Technology (Trondheim), the University of Strasbourg (France),
Technical University of Berlin (Germany). New partners joined it later, but progress
was slow because of the lack of financial support. Scientific funds
distributing the grants had lukewarm attitude towards TRIZ at the time – mostly
because TRIZ was too new, too unknown, and too ambitious.
At the moment, a number of European universities including the Technical
University of Strasbourg (France), Coburg University of Applied Sciences
(Germany), the University of Bergamo and Polytechnic University of Milan (Italy),
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (Australia) continue their TRIZ-related
research which tends to grow. For example, in 2012-2015, the funds of the
European Union were used to finance the «FORMAT»
project, which was coordinated by the team of Polytechnic University of Milan
under the leadership of Prof. Gaetano Cascini. The project set the target to
develop methods of forecasting manufacturing technologies and was executed by a
consortium which included the Wroclaw University of Science and Technology
(Poland), Whirpool and Innovation Engineering (Italy) and PNO (the Netherlands)
as well. The amount of project’s financing was 1.69 million Euro. Results of
the project are publicly available at www.format-project.eu
. [Format 2015]
Today, in the majority of cases, in academia TRIZ-related research
is conducted by postgraduates in course of their thesis preparation. Lately, the
number of scientific publications related to TRIZ research in South-East Asia
has also increased. Most often the topic of research is not so much the
development and improvement TRIZ theoretical background as either automation of
inventive process with the use of TRIZ or integration of TRIZ with other
methods of engineering design.
The paper by Prof. Leonid Chechurin «TRIZ and Science: Review of Index-linked Publications” [Chechurin
2015] presents a good overall picture of modern TRIZ scientific publications.
TRIZ IN NON-TECHNICAL FIELDS
Since the beginning of 2000s, there have been attempts to use TRIZ
in business and management. At the fundamental level, the main paradigms and
concepts discovered and presented in “technical” TRIZ are quite applicable and
workable for business systems and business processes. When a human brain solves
a complicated problem, it uses abstract models, and at the abstract level, the
models of technical systems, organizational systems, technical processes, and
business processes are almost the same. There are contradictions both here and
there, evolution development patterns seem to be very similar due to the common
principles of systems organization, and patterns of innovative solutions
through innovative system changes seem to be universally applicable.
The problem related to the development of TRIZ for business and
management most often manifests itself in blind copying of TRIZ created for
engineering. In the many cases, we can observe a situation when a technology
TRIZ expert teaches TRIZ tools to business people who do not possess technical background,
and he or she uses technical terms and technical inventions as illustrations
and cases. In fact, he or she teaches the same 40 Inventive Principles using
the same wording as in technical TRIZ. Though the content might be quite clear
for the students, such passive knowledge will not transform into active knowledge
because of the cognitive gap. As a result, such attempts to teach technical
TRIZ to business community often fail. The solution of the problem is to adapt
TRIZ to business terminology, re-think and rewrite TRIZ principles, create
collections of cases in business and management and so on. This work is ongoing
Another future-oriented field where TRIZ can be used is school
education. It was a surprise for me to learn about TRIZ distribution in the
Middle East countries, especially in Arabic region, where TRIZ is mainly used
not in engineering, but in the training of teaching staff of schools and
universities to use TRIZ to solve pedagogical issues. There is a number of such
courses in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar. Because of the language barrier it is hard
to estimate the scale of this activity, which predominantly refers to teaching
40 TRIZ Inventive Principles adapted for pedagogics, and also to such TRIZ
concepts turned to tools as Ideal Final Result and System Operator.
In Western Europe, there is also big interest in the use of TRIZ
in pedagogics. However, there are some problems. First, there are too few well-qualified
and certified TRIZ specialists in the field. Second, it is very hard to
introduce something radically new into the local system of school education
without support from state institutions. However, state institutions want to
see a proof in terms of many examples of success to make their decisions. As
clear, such demand creates a vicious cycle.
TOP CHALLENGES TODAY
Living behind the “iron curtain“ in Soviet Union, many people,
including me had an impression that developed countries of Europe, the USA,
Japan and similar countries were starving for new ideas, willing to invest everything
into them, to develop, stimulate, motivate with all possible means. However, after
the “iron curtain” collapsed and we got the opportunity to travel the world, we
soon found out that it was not exactly so.
When creating TRIZ, Altshuller dreamt of creativity
democratization, which meant to give everyone an opportunity to invent,
regardless of age, degree of creativity, and imagination. That wish was based
on a hypothesis that every engineer wishes to invent and create breakthrough
ideas. And not only engineer but each person with university background in
In fact, in the time of the most active TRIZ development, USSR lived
in the atmosphere of technology-related romanticism: technology and science
were booming, and almost every boy dreamt of becoming either an astronaut, or a
spaceship designer. It was barely possible to buy popular technology-related
magazines and science fiction books – they disappeared from the shelves so
quickly, often without reaching the shelves at all. However, at the moment when
TRIZ came out from the “underground”, it became clear that it was not exactly
like that or the world, or more precisely its needs, had changed.
Starting with 2007, I have always taken an opinion poll among
students, majoring in technology and engineering, asking them if they are
interested to have a job in the future related to inventing. Since then, I have
interviewed approximately 2000 students, and every year the number of those who
are interested in it, sadly decreases. In 2007, 15% of students said, “Yes”,
whereas in 2016 – only 6%. Such figures characterize the lack of motivation among
young specialists to invent. It means that the majority of people is not
interested in technical creativity, so the real market segment is not as big as
we thought at the beginning, or as it was, when TRIZ was born and started to
One of the reasons of such attitude may be the fact that many
students already know it is easy to invent something, however further promotion
and implementation of your invention in tough market conditions will require too
many efforts, not related to the main competence of an inventor. But it does
not mean that TRIZ and similar methods are not needed.
Still, even 6% is quite a big group, but it is more complicated to
reach out to them in the field. From my own experience of teaching TRIZ at open
public courses over the period of 20 years, I can say that usually people, who
come to such courses, strive for the top level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
They are interested in large amount of various knowledge, which among other
things leads to significant deficit of time for thorough mastering of new
knowledge and skills.
Today, we hear often that TRIZ has reached its saturation point
and began to lose its popularity, because it seems to many that it came to the
market long time ago and recent TRIZ developments are not too impressive. But
it is true only to a certain degree. TRIZ is neither an iPhone nor an iPad that
capture the market overnight. TRIZ is a new paradigm of thinking that cannot be
fully learned and absorbed over a week. And even the fact that today far from
everyone who could use TRIZ actually use it, does not mean that TRIZ is not
However, we can say that it is the way in which TRIZ was brought
to market all these years, has probably reached its point of saturation. Oleg Abramov
[Abramov 2016] and Len Kaplan [Kaplan 2016] write about it in more details.
There is no doubt that there is a number of key reasons which slow down TRIZ
distribution, I would like to try to present them in a structured way below.
Reasons, related to TRIZ positioning at the market, TRIZ market
and market segments:
1. Narrow market niche. Market niche where TRIZ is
demanded appeared to be significantly narrower than we thought at the
beginning. The majority of engineers do not deal with solving inventive
problems. Moreover, invention is not regarded as a part of daily engineering
activity. Nevertheless, as it was mentioned above, this niche is not extremely
narrow. Having said this, we shall not forget about TRIZ development in
non-technical fields, which can significantly expand TRIZ distribution.
2. Depreciation of interest in search for new ideas due to the
stereotyped attitude towards the process of innovation. Till today,
the market understands the word “innovation” as implementation of an idea which
has already been produced. It is why very little time is given for finding new
ideas. It happens because it seems to be quite easy to generate many ideas with
the help of brainstorm. Probably it is correct, but what about value of these
ideas? At the beginning of my career, I met with top managers of different
companies and often heard a phrase “Ideas? Why should we need new ideas? We
already have hundreds of ideas. The question is not how to find new ideas, but
what of the existing ideas should we choose and implement?” Usually such
statement means that there are no breakthrough ideas but plenty of ideas of low
or average value. But the situation changes, when it comes to solving critical
problems, especially if an organization already produced a lot of ideas which do
not help. Main attention is paid to value of the ideas rather than to their
3. Not clear or not complete value proposition presented by TRIZ
vendors. Potential clients do not always see how TRIZ may impact their
businesses in both short- and long terms. TRIZ is often understood as a quick
fix to one or several customer problems. But learning and practicing TRIZ also
develops such personal skills as critical thinking, systemic view, and
systematic creativity. The point that TRIZ can considerably enhance
intellectual capital of an organization often remains invisible.
4. It is stated imprecisely and incompletely what TRIZ does.
If you ask
people a question «What do you need TRIZ for?», you will mostly hear the
following answer, «To solve a complicated problem or a problem that seems
insolvable». But this is only one part of the right answer. Complicated
problems were solved without TRIZ in the past. The main value of TRIZ with
respect to practical problem solving is that TRIZ allows to dramatically speed
up the process of finding solutions to complicated problems and increase the
accuracy of forecast of systems evolution.
TRIZ positioning. TRIZ is often seen as an
instrument to receive large and breakthrough ideas. There is nothing wrong
about it, but such positioning also makes potential market niche smaller. These
days big corporations with large budgets are not very optimistic about
permanent production of breakthrough ideas. As a rule, many of such companies
prefer to avoid risky investments into the development of high level ideas;
they just wait when the next startup with a breakthrough idea appears on the
market and acquire it, if it is proved that the idea can be implemented
successfully. Nevertheless, TRIZ works perfectly with low-level inventive tasks
that still give quick and significant economic effect. Such tasks are mostly
related to improvement of manufacturing and production processes, decrease of
process- and product related costs, improving consumer experience and so on.
Such inventions can be called “incremental”, but an overwhelming number of
companies are in critical need for such solutions particularly. In addition to
that, solution of such problems quickly proves economic efficiency of TRIZ.
Results from using TRIZ. In modern
world, consulting services mean not only search for solutions but also
implementation of final solutions. However, the majority of TRIZ consultants neither
offer this part of the service nor provide customers with follow-up services on
solution implementation. Resolving this challenge means finding a business
model which would satisfy the requirements and expectations of the client to
the greatest possible extent, for example, by establishing partnership with
solution implementation service providers.
Incorrect advertisement wording. You can
often hear a phrase «TRIZ will solve your problem» in advertisements, but it is
not true. A person solves a problem; while TRIZ ensures process navigation and
offers recommendations for the choice of solution search strategy.
8. Different interpretations of TRIZ as a term. In
advertisement and publications, you can often come across phrases like «TRIZ is
science», «TRIZ is a method», «TRIZ is an instrument». In reality, TRIZ is a
combination of all three levels today: TRIZ is a theory of inventive problem
solving and innovative technical systems development (evolution), a set of
methods based on this theory, and a set of practical tools realizing these
9. Oversimplification. Because a lot of «simplified
TRIZ» versions emerged, TRIZ is often perceived as another variant of
brainstorm and not taken seriously. On the other hand, simplification is needed
to make entry barrier for TRIZ lower. Any simplification is welcome unless “a baby
is not thrown out with a bathwater”. And there are only few proper
10. Different perception of TRIZ in different cultures. Different
cultures and systems of thinking perceive TRIZ differently. TRIZ is not based
on simple following each step of the guidelines, but it is based on the synergy
of systematic approach to thinking and creative imagination, which can have
different basis in different cultures. Because of that, TRIZ may perfectly fit
one culture, but be poorly perceived in another culture at the same time. I
have faced this problem many times personally, when teaching TRIZ in different
countries. It is a separate big topic for research. There is a wonderful book
by Professor of sociology Gert Hofstede “Cultures
and Organizations: Software of the Mind” about the differences between
cultures and their perceptions [Hofstede 2005].
The book does not
mention TRIZ but is very useful to understand the differences between cultures.
directly related to TRIZ:
1. Not ready to be implemented into business processes, lack of
business practices. Classical TRIZ was not ready to be implemented in the business
processes of organizations. It consisted of a set of isolated tools. In that
form TRIZ was and sometimes still is being brought to the market.
Correspondently, the effectiveness of TRIZ implementation was low. Processes
with specific incomes-outcomes were not described clearly. That was why a TRIZ
user without long training would quickly get lost among TRIZ tools and could not
understand what to use and where.
Lack of analytical instruments. In
classical TRIZ, there were no problem and situation analysis instruments,
except for Function Analysis. However, situation decomposition, problem
identification, its structuring and statement are the most important parts of
modern innovation process. Over the last years, this task has been solved by
creating a number of new methods and instruments for problem and situation
analysis. For example, my TRIZ training courses include 50% of material,
developed within the framework of classical TRIZ, the other 50% is represented
by material and instruments, developed over the last 10-15 years.
Weak connection between TRIZ and analysis of market demands. The
majority of TRIZ instruments deal with technical issues only and little
attention is paid to market . There is no doubt that the laws of technical
systems evolution help “predict” the next great leaps, but invention tasks
appear at every stage of system evolution: let it be technical systems or
business or social systems. It is why it is crucially important to ensure interaction
between marketing research and instruments that ensure quick and proper
reaction to changes and new requirements.
4. Complexity. Complexity of modern TRIZ tools for analytics and solution
finding and necessity to invest quite a lot of time in education also decrease
TRIZ availability for wide market segments. Nevertheless, TRIZ needs not so
much simplification, as gradual development and implementation. It is already
being done today with development of TRIZ educational programs for different
Insufficient motivation in the development of thinking skills and
creative imagination, absence of structure of applied and psychological TRIZ
parts. It leads to a situation when TRIZ tools are mastered simply
mechanically; a user is not willing to think on his/her own in the process of
problem solving and expects that if he/she follows the steps of this or that
method, the answer will come itself. One can often see that TRIZ teachers do
not explain about such TRIZ concepts as Ideal Final Result, Multi-Screen scheme
of powerful thinking (System Operator) or make a passing mention about them
without exercises. The result is like a user gets a car without fuel.
6. Absence of high-quality TRIZ textbooks. Although
many of books about TRIZ were published, in most cases they are just popular
descriptions of some parts of TRIZ or author’s interpretations of TRIZ. A group
of authors has been recently created to write proper textbooks.
7. Insufficient quality of scientific publications. Low quality
of scientific and research publications about TRIZ, especially written by
authors from non-academic environment increases a gap between scientists and
practitioners in course of TRIZ development. In the majority of cases, it
happens because the authors without scientific experience are not willing or do
not have time to get familiar with the rules of writing scientific publications.
Such approach leads to the emergence of insufficiently thought-out and poorly tested
methods and instruments.
Reasons, related to TRIZ integration into a modern business
1. Lack of financial assessment methods of results obtained with
using TRIZ. It is especially relevant for the projects where TRIZ is used to
develop the concept of a new product, and where TRIZ is used at the very
beginning of innovation process. Thus, the results obtained in this phase may become
“invisible” in the process of further design and implementation especially if
they take longer time. Here is an example: in 1999, I consulted a company producing
medical equipment on the forecast of future evolution of their products. The
work was going according to a principle “No cure no pay”, which meant that the
payment should have been done only when the results were accepted. During
assessment of the final report, an R&D department manager concluded that the
development options proposed were for remote future, and my report looked more
like science fiction rather than a document addressing the company near future
needs. The payment was not done. In 2006, I found out that the company patented
and launched new product line based on those ideas which I offered in my
report. I could have tried to “restore the justice” but it would have been a
waste of time. In addition to that, it was a good lesson for me to avoid such
situations in the future.
2. Low level of TRIZ integration with other innovation supporting
methods. Today, ways of integration of different but complementary
methods are being explored primarily by the academic community. Sometimes,
companies introduce teaching TRIZ to personnel and try to find such opportunities
of integration on their own; but at the end of the day they just have no time
for it. It means that a project «freezes”. The problem can be solved if
simultaneously with TRIZ training, we find critical points in already existing
business processes and company practices, where it is possible to integrate
TRIZ for a particular client.
The age of the main category of TRIZ users is high. Visiting
3-4 large international TRIZ conferences per year, I always pay attention to
the absence of young people. TRIZ barely attracts young people, young
specialists. It is a pity. Of course, we can continue to ride an old train
using a new rail track, but it is unlikely that we go far. We need to create
new formats of TRIZ content presentation and its distribution that suit the
4. Lack of coordination between the members of global TRIZ community. Over the
last 20 years, so many different TRIZ versions and TRIZ-based tools have been
created, that TRIZ beginners often feel lost when trying to make sense of the
chaos of the alternatives offered. I constantly come across such situations.
Today, The International TRIZ Association (MATRIZ) and the European TRIZ
Association (ETRIA) offer such coordination on global scale, and further
development of such coordination is needed.
Genrich Altshuller was undoubtedly one of the most outstanding
thinkers of the 20th century. He not only laid down the basics of a
new discipline of technical creativity which has a large potential to become a
new field of science, but also created tools that can significantly strengthen
thinking potential in the process of finding solutions to complicated practical
problems. Numerous cases of successful TRIZ application in diverse industries
prove its effectiveness and efficiency to support the tasks of innovation
front-end and create new knowledge and new value. Moreover, fundamental basics
of TRIZ successfully go beyond technical field, which has been proved more than
once. TRIZ methods help efficiently solve open innovative problems in
engineering, business and social sphere.
Yet some of the ideas and conclusions discovered and made by Genrich
Altshuller have not been fully absorbed and have not found application yet. I
am convinced it will happen in the future. He was a person who went ahead of
his time. His findings related to understanding patterns and a process of systematic
creative thinking can be further developed and implemented at a greater scale.
Although modern society invests considerable efforts and resources to the
development of physical means of technological innovation, it does not provide
enough support for the development of our problem solving and creative thinking
skills which are, perhaps, most critical ingredients to create successful
innovations. Thinking goes first, and technology follows up. The reasons of
such inefficiency is that there are not much methodological and scientific
support to teach and develop pragmatic creative thinking. At the same time, the
ideas and concepts developed in TRIZ may be a solution to building and teaching
a new paradigm of innovative thinking.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2016, a list of skills
that will be mostly demanded in 2020 was presented [Davos 2016]. Top three places were taken by:
TRIZ complies with this list better than anything else, especially
because it has overlapping of all the three skills. It is why it would be
strange if TRIZ disappeared in the time, when there is such a big demand for the
thinking skills that it helps develop. Nevertheless, because of the reasons
listed above, the use of TRIZ in its classical version is limited. So, today we
can observe how TRIZ moves to a new curve of evolution, which is reflected in
new and updated tools, organization and structure of TRIZ processes, a broader
use of TRIZ in non-technical fields.
Fig. 9. Transition of TRIZ to a new S-Curve where such important
parameters of value play role as performance, universality, adaptability as
well as automation and integration with business and social environments.
It is very important to keep in mind that such fundamental disciplines
as TRIZ do not develop and are not accepted quickly, because they require
long-term studies which lead to gradual improvement. Time is needed for academic
community, teachers and businesses to understand and accept the new paradigm
and reconsider the existing theories, methods and practices.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mark Barkan and
Simon Litvin for their useful comments during writing this paper.
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[Fortune 1998] “Invention Machine: Software for Geniuses” by Carol
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[Forbes 2013] “What Makes Samsung Such An Innovative Company”. In Forbes.com by Haydn Shaughnessy, 2013.
[MATRIZ] MATRIZ web-page: List of certified users and
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[Hofstede at al 2005] Hofstede, Geert & Hofstede,
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[Davos 2016] The Future of Jobs. Report by the World Economic
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Valeri Souchkov, TRIZ Master, co-founded Invention Machine Lab
(later Invention Machine Corporation) in 1989 and the European TRIZ Association
(ETRIA) in 2001. In 2003, he founded ICG Training and Consulting. In total, he
trained TRIZ to more than 6000 professionals and students from over 60
countries and participated in more than 100 innovative projects. His customers
list consists of more than 300 organizations, including such companies as 3M,
ASML, ABB, BASF, Canon, Danone, Fujifilm, LG Electronics, Microsoft, Orange,
Philips, PepsiCo, Siemens, Shell, TNT, Unilever. He is author of several
modern TRIZ tools and over 100 publications on TRIZ and Systematic Innovation. Currently,
he also teaches TRIZ at the University of Twente and TIAS Business School. Valeri
Board Member of the European TRIZ Association and Vice President of the
International TRIZ Association (MATRIZ).