The first systematic Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) was developed by G.S. Altshuller between 1946 and 1985. It is based on the study of patterns between problems that need to be overcome and the eventual solutions that follow. More than three million patents have been analyzed to discover these patterns and systematic innovation has become a widespread international science.
The three primary findings of the research in this field over the last 60 years are (*):
- Problems and solutions are repeated across industries and sciences.
- Patterns of technical evolution are repeated across industries and sciences.
- Creative innovations use scientific effects outside the field where they were developed.
In short, for almost any problem you face, somebody (or something) has solved it somewhere before. The challenge is to find the solution that already exists and apply it to your new challenge. By understanding and classifying the contradictions inherent within each problem, it is possible to predict the creative solutions to that problem.
(*) With thanks to Katie Barry, Ellen Domb and Michael S. Slocum for their summary