TRIZ marriage with TOC delivers improved product

TRIZ Future 2011, Dublin, Ireland TRIZ marriage with TOC delivers improved product

Rony Manna, Gregory Frenklachb

A system’s performance is limited by at least one constraint at a time. System performance improvement can be achieved if we identify the constraint/limitations and provide a stable solution. The methodology called the “Thinking Processes” is part of the Theory of Constraints (TOC TP). It provides tools to identify system’s constraints, define properly the conflict that causes the constraints and exposes “hidden assumptions” in our understanding of the conflict. Conflict’s resolution eliminates the constraint and improves system performance. TRIZ provides effective proven tools to resolve technical conflicts (contradictions). We use the common object of both methods to resolve contradictions/conflicts as a coupling point. Using a combination of TOC TP with TRIZ in synergy provides powerful toolset, enabling us to improve product and system performance for systems consist of both technical elements and human factors.
Keywords: TRIZ, TOC, TOC TP, System, Constraints, Conflict, Puzzle, Problem Situation Mapping, Cloud, CRD, CRT, PSM, MUST
  1. 1.       Glossary
TOC – Theory of constraints TOC TP – Theory of constraints thinking processes CRT – Current Reality Tree CRD /CLOUD – Conflict Resolution Diagram FRT – Future Reality Tree UDE – Undesired Effect PSM – Problem Situation Mapping TC – Technical contradiction DTC – Dimension, Time, Cost
  1. What is TOC TP?
The Theory Of Constraints (TOC) is a management philosophy for the improvement of system performance, created by Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt [1]. It   applies the thinking processes and logic used in the hard sciences (sufficient cause, necessary condition) to understand and improve systems of all types as well as to enable people to think creatively and to have high quality interpersonal communication. TOC consists of three parts: 1) A set of problem-solving tools – called the TOC TP (Thinking Processes- to logically and systematically answer the three questions essential to any process of on-going improvement: “What to change?”, “To what to change to?” and “How to cause the change?”. 2) A set of daily management tools – taken from the TOC TP - that can be used to significantly improve vital management skills, such as communication, effecting change, team building and empowerment; strategic planning and problem analysis and conflict resolution. 3) Innovative, proven solution sets created by applying the TOC TP to specific application areas, such as Production, Marketing and Sales, Project Management, and Setting The Direction of The Company, and many other applications. An extraordinary benefit of the TOC TP tools is that they provide the ability to recognize the paradigm shifts which occur when environment and external rules are changed but our assumptions and rules don’t. Those of us who continue our patterns of operation, regardless of the changing reality, will suffer when the effects of our actions are not those that we expect. We cannot constantly monitor every assumption to be sure we are in line with constantly evolving reality, so practicing of TOC logic tools can be a real advantage.  
  1. 3.       What is TRIZ?
TRIZ [2] is a problem solving methodology scientifically based on logic and data based on which relies on the study of so called “transition patterns” from problems to inventive solutions, as opposed to spontaneous or intuitive creativity. TRIZ is based on the hypothesis that there are universal principles of creativity that are used as a base for innovations which advance technology. These principles could be identified, classified, and used in the application of TRIZ process to mimic the innovation/problem solving process. The generic flow of the innovation/problem solving applies TRIZ general patterns (problemèsolution) to specific situations in order to find a solution (Fig 1)
Fig 1 Fig 1
  1. Previous attempt to “marry” TRIZ and TOC are reported since 1999. Ellen Domb and H.W Dettemer [3] discussed the use of separation principles and the contradiction matrix to solve the cloud conflict. David Bergland  and Alla Zusman [4] used the functional tree instead of the CRT, they defined the “Must” part of the TOC “Cloud” tool as Technical Contradiction (TC) and the “Pre requisite” part as Physical Contradiction (PC) and used separation principles to resolve the conflict. We will show a comprehensive approach for TOC TP synergy with TRIZ, developed using “system approach”.
  2. Comparison between TRIZ and TOC TP analyzed by Multilevel Universal System Thinking (MUST) [5]
Result:  Both TRIZ and TOC TP are intended to achieve similar result: leap improvement of a system. Method:
  • TRIZ obtains the result by resolving contradiction using “patterns” that were revealed on basis of the world’s patent fund analysis.
  • TOC TP obtains the result by identifying and elimination of the system constraint (key-problem).
  • TRIZ – method is based on the technical system development laws and regularities.
  • TOC – method is based on releasing team knowledge during discussion, and applying
existing -  but hidden – team members intuitions. Means:
  • TRIZ tools that are applied to analyze problem situation, define the problem, choose problem solving direction, find and evaluate the solution concept.
  • TOC TP tools that are applied to consolidate a team, identify key-problem (constraint), analyze the problem, resolve it and evaluate the solution concept.
  • Both TRIZ and TOC TP have well-described tools and work procedures.
In order to check “synergy” possibilities let’s write down drawbacks of TRIZ and TOC TP. Methods: 
  • TRIZ isn’t intended to find key-problem (constraint).
  • TOC TP does not provide “solving patterns”.
  • TRIZ does not provide “team dynamic” to release hidden team knowledge and intuitions.
  • TOC TP does not leverage system development “regularities”.
  • Classical TRIZ tools are procedural-wordy and insufficiently visual.
  • TOC TP tools do not provide “smooth” transition path between the stages of “problem selection”, “problem definition” and “solution generation”, or “direct connectivity” between the tools (from CRT to Cloud and from Cloud to Injection)
A “synergy” of TRIZ and TOC TP should overcome the above mentioned drawbacks of the two methods.  
  1. 5.       The synergetic process
Synergy between TOC TP and TRIZ is done using a number of elements of TOC TP and TRIZ plus additional components. These are the components of the synergy:
  • “Current Reality Tree” (CRT) is a TOC-TP causality tree to examine problem holistically and determine system constraint. Dominant system constraint or a minimum set of constraints prevent the system from achieving its goal.
CRT logically connects and organizes the Undesired Effects (UDEs) of the system. The highlighted root of the tree is the “key problem” or system’s dominant constraint. Adding “X factor” connect the CRT to the system resources: “X factor” indicates an unknown factor which is a part of the “if then” logic statement. “X factor” is similar in meaning to “X element” of ARIZ. Advantages of the “X factor”: The team recognizes their lack of knowledge in this area and they would look for it. One way to deal with it is to replace it by one of the system resources and then re evaluate the statement. (Fig 2).
Fig 2
  • Problem Situation Mapping (PSM)  [6],[7] – what is it and how it works
PSM is a method based on “puzzle thinking”: the ability to see the pieces and the big picture simultaneously, and to connect the pieces to one another properly. It provides a multi-screen mapping tool of the problem situation and a “moving cross-hair” to lock onto the “right problem”. The horizontal axis of the multi-screen is a causality axis: Cause-Effect relations, the vertical is “Problem level” axis. All screens are formulated in same format to enable smooth movement of the “cross-hair”. Each screen includes a UDE, which represents its associated “correctly stated problem” (Fig 3a). Each UDE in center row interacts with the one below it and the one above it – which are at different problem level. These pairs create six contradictions as described in Fig. 3b Fig 3a Fig 3b  
  • Evaporating Cloud: “Conflict Resolution Diagram” (CRD) is a TOC-TP tool to resolve system conflicts, in order to reach the system goal. Cloud identifies the conditions necessary to reach a goal, reveals conflict between the terms, exposes hidden assumptions in the system, and provides the path to resolve the conflict (Fig 4).
“Injection” is a solution which removes assumptions or one of the necessary conditions thus leads to conflict resolution and therefore allows achieving the goal (Fig 5). Injection generation is improved by operating the Inventive principles on the “Must” area and the Separation principles on the “Pre requisite” area [3], [8]. During PSM process problems are formulated correctly and connected to UDEs, which makes it easier to apply TRIZ tools to Clouds that are derived from PSM. Hidden assumptions are sometimes based on psychological inertia. Therefore some of TRIZ tools that are intended to overcome the psychological inertia like DTC [9] and exercises for creative imagination development [10] could be used to break the hidden assumptions.



  • Generate clouds from PSM: There are hidden contradictions between 2 neighboured UDEs. In order to expose and solve them we generate clouds where the “MUST” part of the cloud is made of the UDEs. In this paper we cannot describe this process in details.
Fig 6 describes the process. Fig 6
  1. Case study
This is a case of Communication Company. The goal of the work was to create a concept of solution for system that was crashed down few times a week and caused disconnection of big areas from all communication services. This work was performed over few months. The case study presents consequence of the process only and does not explain all the issues. The problem as described was:  “System is unstable, we are fire fighting”. The intention of the pictures is to illustrate the process flow, the details of the specific case is less important. Steps of the process:
  1. Create a team that represents all parts of the system (technical, customers, sales etc.).
  2. Create CRT and identify the “key problems”
    1. The team raised UDEs. Each team member raised UDEs from his prospective of the system..
    2. We built the CRT top to bottom by connecting the UDEs using “If Then” questions.
    3. Identify the points of entrance to the tree – the root cause (the constraints of the system).
    4. Define priority to solve the constraints.
    5. Create PSM for the “key-problems”
      1. Enable turning of the constraint into several sets of undesired effects (UDEs) on different levels, connected to each other by causality chain. Then conflict pairs of UDEs are transformed into clouds.
      2. Choose the cloud we want to attack – the PSM provides options for few clouds (see diagrams of steps 4 and 5).
      3. Choose the right conflict to solve: We need to decide which conflict we would like to attack based on few criteria’s. The main criteria is the location of the conflict. The conflict of “Limit amount of users” vs. “Do not limit amount of users” is located at the main roots of the CRT thus solving it will provide the most effective solution.
      4. Solve the conflict: Applying of TRIZ tools for problem solving and overcoming of psychological inertia as injection support to evaporate the Cloud(s).
In this case we applied separation principles to the “Pre requisites” hidden assumptions (the connections between B-D and C-D’). The final solution modify some of the system internal processes so that pre requisite D achieved (“Limit amount of users”) without avoiding D’ (“Do not limit amount of users”). Note: Inventive principles may be applied on B and C, however it is better to solve the problem through the conflict resolution rather than change the “MUST” boxes.
  1. Summary
The described synergy path builds TRIZ tools into TOC TP process to improve problem solving capability of TOC TP process while preserving its advantages for team work. The key advantages are listed below:  .  
  1. CRT building process has been accelerated and it leads to better understanding of the situation and the system’s constrains: usage of “X factor” ties CRT to system resources.
  2. PSM enables building a set of Clouds that are connected with the system’s constraints, thus transition from CRT to Cloud is smooth, accurate and fast.
  3. PSM process formulates problems correctly, therefore it is easier to implement TRIZ tools to Clouds that are derived from PSM.
  4. Injection generation process is systematic and accurate because it is based on TRIZ tools for problem solving and breaking of psychological inertia.
  1. References
[1] Eliyahu M. Goldratt. It’s Not Luck. 1994 [2] G. Altshuller. Creativity as an Exact Science. Translated by Anthony Williams. NY. Gordon & Breach Science Publishers, 1988 [3 ] Ellen Domb, H. William Dettmer Breakthrough Innovation In Conflict Resolution: Marrying TRIZ and the Thinking Process 1999 [4] David Bergland , Alla Zusman An Accelerated Process for Creating Breakthrough Inventions [5] Gregory Frenklach, Some thoughts about TRIZ feature transfer into other field of human life 2006 [6] Gregory Frenklach, Efficient Use of the System Operator 1998 [7] Gregory Frenklach, Multi-level Problem Solving 2007 [8] Darrell MANN, Roy STRATTON Physical Contradictions and Evaporating Clouds 2000 [9] Gregory Frenklach, Efficient Use of the DTC Operator 1998 [10] Gregory Frenklach, Creative Imagination Development 1998