Move to spark innovation through use of Triz


  • Technology
  • Friday, 15 Oct 2010

KUALA LUMPUR: Innovative minds are the element that will save the country from being stuck in a middle-income rut and chipmaker Intel wants to introduce a new way of thinking to encourage more innovation.

Intel wants to introduce an old Russian problem-solving method, called Triz, which can promote innovative thinking among its practitioners.

Triz is a problem-solving analysis and forecasting method, derived from the study of patterns of invention in global patent literature. The acronymn is gleaned from the Russian language and means the theory of inventive problem-solving.

According to Dr T.S. Yeoh, president of the Malaysia Triz Innovation Association and Intel Malaysia’s principal engineer, Triz is a more effective problem-solving method than other conventional ones.

“Others such as ‘thinking outside the box’ or ‘engaging your creative side’ are very philosophical at best and they don’t offer you the tools to solve problems. Which is why people can take years solving a problem,” he said.

With the Triz method, Yeoh said, organisational problems — be they business or engineering related — have been known to be solved in hours instead of months.

He explained that this is possible because Triz encourages systematic brainstorming, instead of blindly diving into the problem.

“The method has more than a dozen tools which can be used to effect structured brainstorming. This helps break down the problem into small manageable parts, so that thinkers can come up with more elegant and less complex solutions,” he said.

It is this structured approach, which when applied properly can help bring about innovative ideas, he added.

Already in use

Yeoh said Triz is used at Intel by engineers, as well as business executives, to help them come up with innovative solutions to their problems. “It is practiced across the board to help us come up with a better mousetrap (so to speak),” he said.

While it sounds like a viable method to foster innovative thinking, mastering Triz will require passion and effort, and it cannot be done overnight, he said.

Yeoh, who is also a certified Triz trainer, said he often follows up with his students and other Triz trainers in order to make sure the method is being taught correctly and used right.

“In the future, we’d like to present our students and trainers with national problems so that they can apply Triz to solve them,” he said.

With the help of the Multimedia Development Corp (MDeC) and the Ministry of Higher Education, Intel plans to spread this method of problem-solving to local universities.

“It is already being applied in western universities, so its time we caught up with them to remain competitive. We will show that this method works,” Yeoh said.

MDeC chief operating officer Ng Wan Peng said that introducing Triz as part of the curricula in our universities can help create more well-rounded individuals to fill the country’s knowledge-based talent pool, and will help with national aspirations to have a high-income economy.

She said the current system puts technical skills in high regard but graduates will also need soft skills, such as critical thinking and problem-solving expertise, to boost the nation’s economic growth.

“Triz helps with creative thinking which is just as important as having good technical skills,” she added.

Conference call

In order to encourage more organisations to apply Triz, MDeC, in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education and Intel, will hold the first myTriz conference from Oct 26-28 at the Empire Subang Hotel in Subang Jaya.

Ng said the organisers have received overwhelming response from universities and about 100 people from various institutions of higher learning have signed up.

“I believe people are hungry for this type of knowledge, especially now that the country is talking about economic transformation and becoming a high-income nation. Triz is a good tool to help us achieve this,” she said.

At the coming conference, speakers will discuss Triz in more detail, as well as share tips on how it can help derive new ideas from old ones.

The speakers will also give tips on how to navigate around a patent in order to come up with a different version of an existing product.

“An already patented idea should not prevent anyone from taking it apart or building upon it,” Yeoh said.

For more information on the conference, go to www.mytriz.com.my.

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