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TRIZ toolkit

There are ten tools in the Oxford Creativity TRIZ toolkit:

1. Thinking in Time and Space

This simplest and most powerful tool works on all problem types both technical and management. The nine-box tool is applied in three different ways at various stages of the problem understanding and solving process. Initially it is used to accurately capture the history of each problem and the problem context.

When we have a system to analyse we use nine boxes to set the system context, define its environment (super-system) and all the details (subsystems). The nine-box solution map is used when we are sorting possible places to solve the selected problem.

This simplest and most powerful tool works on all problem types both technical and management. The nine-box tool is applied in three different ways at various stages of the problem understanding and solving process. Initially it is used to accurately capture the history of each problem and the problem context.When we have a system to analyse we use nine boxes to set the system context, define its environment (super-system) and all the details (subsystems). The nine-box solution map is used when we are sorting possible places to solve the selected problem.

Download nine-box solution map [PDF 10KB]

2. Eight Trends of Technical Evolution

Trends of Technical Evolution show us how to predict new markets and new products. In this way TRIZ offers us ways of seeing how all products and industries develop. The Trends of Evolution map the general directions of system development. Once we have a system the TRIZ Trends will fairly reliably give us the future developments of that system.

TRIZ Trends help you

  • Predict future technologies, new products and improvement of current systems
  • Define what you want – Ideality
  • Understand where you are using S-Curves and seeing the next steps and future possibilities using simple patterns of the eight TRIZ trends
  • See the most promising directions of your products and those of your competitors
  • Choose/evaluate the most promising of the ideas being developed and help you develop those products

3. Contradictions

The concept of Contradiction is central to the TRIZ toolkit and gives immediate confidence in finding successful and powerful solutions. We learn how to uncover contradictions (often the heart of the problem) and then eliminate them using the relevant tools.

Problem solving often involves understanding and resolving conflicting requirements eg improvement in one part is at the expense of something else getting worse (Technical Contradiction), or we may want the same thing in opposite states but at different times or places eg an umbrella needs to be small and large (Physical Contradiction). Once we understand the conflict in our requirements then we can use TRIZ processes for uncovering contradictions and the tools for solving them.

Understanding all the benefits we want, getting those in the right order of priority, and seeing where these benefits conflict is the first stage in solving contradictions. This needs structure and practice for successful problem solving.

4. Forty Principles

The distillation of knowledge in these 40 Principles is a guide to powerful solution triggers. Familiarity with all 40 Principles is essential for effective future problem solving.

The 40 Principles are accessed for problem solutions by defining Physical and Technical Contradictions and using the Separation principles to solve Physical Contradictions (opposite requirements), and the TRIZ Contradiction Matrix to solve Technical Contradictions (different but conflicting features such as strength versus weight).


1) Separating Requirements

In Space

1 Segmentation
2 Taking Out
26 Copying
7 Nested Doll
30 Flexible Membranes & Thin Films
4 Asymmetry
3 Local Quality
24 Intermediary/Mediator
13 The Other Way Round
17 Another Dimension
14 Spheroidality- Curvature
40 Composite Materials

In Time

15 Dynamics
16 Partial or Excessive Action
10 Prior Action
18 Mechanical Vibration
19 Periodic Action
11 Cushion in Advance
20 Continuity of Useful Action
21 Rushing Through
24 Intermediary- Mediator
27 Cheap Short-Living Objects
9 Prior Counteraction
29 Pneumatics & Hydraulics
34 Discarding & Recovering
7 Nested Doll
37 Thermal Expansion

On Condition

35 Parameter Change
32 Colour Change
36 Phase Transition
39 Inert Environment
38 Accelerated Oxidation
28 Replacement of Mechanical
29 Pneumatics & Hydraulics

2) Alternative Ways

a) Transition to Subsystem

1 Segmentation
27 Cheap Short Living Objects

b) Transition to Supersystem

5 Merging
22 Blessing in Disguise

c) Transition to Alternative System

25 Self-service
6 Universality

d) Transition to Inverse System

13 The Other Way Round

View the Contradiction Matrix [PDF 30k]

5. Seventy-six Standard Solutions

This is a simple and general list of all recorded solutions in the patent database. It is in five sections and shows all the ways the world knows to solve a problem

  • How to do something we want to do
  • Dealing with harm (prevent, transform, block)
  • How to improve something (or an action) we already have
  • Detecting or measuring something
  • Simplifying and making cheaper

Oxford Creativity’s Standard Solutions are a simpler but equally powerful alternative to the traditional TRIZ tools of Altshuller’s Substance-Field Analysis (also known as Su-Fields / S-Fields) and the 76 Standard Solutions. Altshuller’s Substance-Field Analysis offers innovative solutions to inventive problems, but many people find the method tedious, hard to understand and difficult to remember when solving problems.

Standard Solutions are very simple and general lists of all the ways to solve problems recorded by science and technology, particularly in patents. We use the Standard Solutions once we have identified the problem type. We might, for example, have identified a harmful interaction.  We can then step through all the ways to stop harm:

  • prevent that harm happening at all
  • transform it so it is no longer harmful (perhaps even useful)
  • block, or prevent the harm so it no longer causes a problem

Where more detailed technical knowledge is required, we show you how to use the effects database and the patent database to find powerful solutions.

6. Resources

Identification of available resources around any problem is essential for finding good, cost-effective, environmentally friendly solutions. Unlike any other problem-solving technique, the TRIZ definition of a resource is all-encompassing and focuses even on apparently negative or harmful resources. Thinking about symmetry, smell, colour or surface finish as resources rather than just things that exist in the system helps you learn how to identify, transform and then use all the resources to focus on cost reduction and produce elegant, clever solutions.

7. Ideality

Defined as the end point, the purpose, the main function we are seeking:

All functionality/benefits
Everything we want (must haves/nice to haves)
Everything we don’t want
Where & when we want our functionality
The real functionality- Why do we want this?
Ideal Outcome
Everyone’s Ideal Outcome
Identify conflicts in Time and Space

Ideal Outcome – a vision of the perfect end result- no constraints – no “we can’t have this because…” Think like Leonardo da Vinci who said, “Think of the end before the beginning.” Thinking about what you want rather than what you currently have. The underlying philosophy of TRIZ is to deliver more for less, finding solutions to problems for a minimum of cost and harm. The concept of an Ideal Outcome frees thinking away from constraints and why something can’t be done, to what might be possible and how to achieve it. 

Ideal Outcome & Everyone’s Ideal Outcome – makes you look at the problem from everyone else’s point of view (whoever is relevant, customer, manufacturing engineer, designer, shareholder etc). Understanding the conflicts between all stakeholders and resolving conflicts/contradictions is one of the great powers of TRIZ. Altshuller said, “Every great invention is the result of resolving one or more contradictions”. Delegates will understand the challenges of solving contradictions in order to meet all requirements from all points of view. Once everyone’s input is considered we can then look at how to reduce conflicts between stakeholders for your company’s problems.

8. Functional Analysis

This is the TRIZ discipline and process for describing the system containing the problem(s) in all its detail by listing all the components and all their interactions. TRIZ Functional Analysis is unique in that it includes all the negative, ineffective and excessive interactions in the system, and this is key to a proper understanding of the problems and potential solution points in the system. All interactions are expressed as Subject-Action-Object and it is important to use simple, clear language (no acronyms) in order to be able to structure the problem correctly. Correct use of this tool allows direct access to the world’s knowledge (which is structured along similar lines) to locate the best solutions.

The Oxford Creativity method keeps all the rigour of TRIZ Functional Analysis, and leads to use of our simple Standard Solutions. It will also help you access and use the available TRIZ software and web-based solutions. TRIZ Functional Analysis is powerful and links with other popular, problem-solving toolkits like Value Engineering, Six Sigma and Lean Sigma, all of which have their roots in the middle of the last century.


Once the problems have been identified from the Functional Analysis diagram, we try to simplify the system using the Trimming Rules. Often this step will eliminate problems, but it also of course reduces the cost of the system and increases its ideality.

Solution map

After trimming we select one of the remaining problems to solve and identify where we can solve it (in time and space). The range of possibilities constitutes your solution map, and you choose which type of solution to try for according to what constraints you have.

9. Smart Little People

Smart Little People (aka Many Little People, or Smart Little Creatures) is an excellent tool for breaking the psychological inertia that can be induced by technical or specialist terminology, and for analysing systems at the micro-level. It is especially useful in brainstorming sessions.

With Smart Little People you imagine that the system you are analysing consists of many clever, ingenious small objects or people, that can make decisions individually and as a group. Thinking of the system like this helps make sure everyone really understands how the system works, and is a very good way of explaining complex situations as they can be broken down into smaller, more digestible parts.

Once you have analysed your problem context with Smart Little People, you think of ways they could solve your problem, by acting alone or as a group, ie what they would have to do to solve the problem. This is then translated into a physical solution.

10. Size-Time-Cost

Size-Time-Cost is a very simple tool that helps break psychological inertia by imagining your system at extremes.

Size  0   ∞
Time  0   ∞
Cost  0   ∞

You imagine that your system’s size has to be either minute (or non-existent), then think of how you could create a system like that, what challenges it would pose, what advantages it would have, and then you imagine it at the opposite extreme: infinitely large, how you could make it like that and the challenges and benefits that it would give you.

You also perform this for both time (happen in no time, or take an infinitely long time) and cost (your system is free, or you have an infinite amount of money to spend). Although a simple tool it is very effective at making you think of your system as it really is, what you really want from it, and helps you get rid of any false constraints. This tool is also useful in brainstorming exercises.  

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