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Reducing Offering Burdens

Copyright 2015, 2017 by Collaborative Authors, All rights reserved 

ISBN       1-934805-30-0   978-1-934805-30-5    

This book is the work of a collaborative group.

Contributors 
Larry Ball (Primary Author)
David Troness
Kartik Ariyur
Jason Huang
Steve Hickman
Petr Krupansky 

Editors
Erika Ball
David Troness
Paul Dwyer
Robert Lang  

Illustrators
Larry Ball
David Troness

Other Authors, Theoreticians, Practitioners Whose Writings or Teachings have Impacted This Work
Genrich Altshuller
Ellen Domb
Roni Horowitz
John Terninko
Alla Zusman
Boris Zlotin
Lev Shulyak
Yuri Salamatov
Victor Fey
Eugene Rivin
Darrell Mann
Sergei Ikovenko
Simon Litvin
Peter Ulan
Lane Desborough
Clayton Christensen
Renee Mauborgne
Kim Chan

Much of the material for this book was inspired by the thought leaders referenced.  The original intent was to codify the insights of these thought leaders, but the exercise of codification ultimately led to the synthesis of other experimental processes.  This is because codification required recognizing patterns of similarity of tools.  Once this was achieved, the various tools were grouped with key decisions.  Decisions require and create information which flows to the next decisions.  Patterns and gaps became visible during this formative process.  Experimental methods were inserted into the gaps.   The proof of these experimental methods is whether they actually help the reader to identify product or process characteristics that will delight the market.

Prerequisite Knowledge:
Throughout this book, we will be working with the concept of “Function” and “Job”, so it is important to understand the definition of these two terms as they are used in this book. If you have not read TRIZ Power Tools Working with Functions please do this before reading this book.

Each of the books in the TRIZ Power Tools book series are designed to be used as an algorithm. 

                    Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

                                               ~Leonardo DaVinci

While many people who will read this book are keenly attuned to the need to simplify systems, some have only a vague notion of why this job is important.  It is tempting to think that once you have created an offering, the next task is to work the bugs out and get it to market.  However, making your offering as simple as possible may be one of the most important steps to marketability.  It is tempting to consider a product only from the operational point of view.  However, the burdens of the offering are often hidden.  How much of the cost of a system is bound up in its complexity?  Each part has to be designed, procured, tested, assembled tested, transported, stored, maintained and ultimately disposed of.  There are dollar and time costs associated with each of these jobs and this is multiplied by the number and the complexity of the parts.  Ultimately, the system has to be produced at sufficient cost to create a profit.  With the high percentage of new offering failures, the simple subtraction of a few elements can make or break a product introduction.  What we are considering may be much more than the elimination of a few elements. With proper attention to simplification, the savings will mount over time and the offering will have a better chance to win in the market place.

Beyond making a product profitable, we need to take into account the user experience.  One of the primary purposes if simplification is to remove human burdens.  These burdens usually are hidden and often institutionalized by humans.  We hardly notice that they are there.   These burdens go beyond the constraints that consumers are aware of.  Think of how often we rush to new products or services because they are easier to use than the previous products or services.  Later, we find that we rush again to the next improved services because another unrecognized burden is lifted.  In the meantime, we institutionalize the burdens by working around the compromises that they force use to make.

If you are a systems engineer, you will likely find something of great value as systems engineering has few tools beyond “trade studies” for simplifying systems.  You will also notice that the tools blend with current systems engineering tools.

The key to understanding why we want to simplify is found in the concept of value. For a rough explanation of the concept of value, please refer to the expression below.  This expression is not meant to be an exact mathematical reality.  It serves to make the point that as a system or an object in the system takes on more useful functions and drops its burdensome functions and attributes, it increases in value in the eyes of the market and the business that provides it.

01 Value Function

In the book TRIZ Power Tools—Creating Offerings, the increase in the numerator is considered.  There, we identified new functions that would enhance the offering and simplify the customer’s job.  In the book TRIZ Power Tools—Designing and Prototyping, we create an offering piece-by-piece as we added functions in the most ideal way possible. Unfortunately, harmful functions and attributes arise every time an element is added. This increases the denominator and thus reduces the value of the offering.  In this book, we are focusing on decreasing the denominator; we ask how we can decrease the burdens of the offering by removing burdensome elements.  As a practical note, removing elements will usually introduce new problems. (Even in the physical world, no good deed goes unpunished.)  In order to solve these and other existing problems, we continue to the part of the algorithm contained in the book TRIZ Power Tools—Resolving Problems.  Here we assume that the collection of object that represents our simplified offering must be further increased in value by removing its bad marks.

Remove as Much of the Patient as Possible
Patients with diseases make good analogies when it comes to performing causal analysis.  The doctor attempts to go beyond the symptoms to find out what is causing the problem.  What went wrong?  The doctor probes carefully considering all symptoms until the source of the problem is found.

When it comes to solutions, however, the doctor-patient analogy begins to fail.  With living patients, a doctor performing a surgical procedure will attempt to preserve as much of the patient as possible. With man-made systems we want to preserve the least amount of the system possible to still get the job done.  This is because technical systems impose human burdens. Radical surgery is better than preserving the system so long as we don’t sacrifice performance. 

This is the hallmark of TRIZ solutions and of all good designs.  The second axiom of Axiomatic[1] design tells us that good designs impose the fewest requirements for information exchanges.  In simpler terms, good designs require fewer functions and are therefore more simple.  Regardless of what we do, either the system or super-system should become simpler.  (This means that it is fine for the system to become more complex if the super-system (Job) becomes less complex).

To Jump to a New System or not to Jump
When we simplify systems, no matter how we do it, this represents a courageous jump to a new system.  The decision to jump to a new system rather than evolving the given system is based upon the constraints for solving the problem.  When we reviewed requirements we also considered the constraints on the problem solving process.  We considered how much time we had; how much budget we had to work with; how many alternatives we needed to generate.  From these, we have a pretty good idea how much we will be allowed to change the system.  It is easy to assume that jumping to a new system will take more resources, but this is conditional. 

Jumping to a new system may mean removing elements and simplifying the system.  Removing flawed elements from our system can be worth the additional problem solving time, even if there is little time to solve the problem. Simplification can remove several problems including the one that we are faced with. We have just done a causal analysis.  We understand why everything is needed in the system.  Often, objects related to the problem are only required because something else is not doing its job.  It may not be doing its job because of a problem hidden in the system that has not been solved.  If we solve this problem, the requirement for other elements may go away.  The system becomes simpler at the same time that we are improving it.  This is elegance.

On the other hand there are changes that simplify that will likely require more solution resources.  It is almost certain that changing the physical phenomenon that delivers the main function will generate many unanticipated problems.  It is not likely that we will really consider this if there is a short fuse. 

In summary, jumping to a new system can take more time and effort than evolving the given system. On the other hand, the offset in system complexity can often save time.  The final answer to this question is that it takes experience to know how far to go.  Even with experience, we can never know for certain if we have gone too far or far enough because there is no way to follow all solution paths.

Ideal Results and Machines
To jump to a new system, we are not willy-nilly brainstorming new systems.  We want to find a more ideal machine which achieves the required performance while using the minimum resources.

Jumping to a new system may seem risky.  For example the aviation industry likes slow change due to safety regulations.  While slow change gives more predictable results, certain types of radical change are not very risky.   Let’s consider why jumping makes sense even in environments which are very conservative.

To make a point about jumping to more ideal states than the current machine, Altshuller presents a problem posed by D. Poia.[2]

“How can you bring exactly six liters of water from a river using two buckets, one of four liters, the other of nine liters?  It is obvious that pouring water “by guessing” from one bucket to the other is prohibited.  The problem has to be solved using the exact measuring capacity of the two buckets.

I offered this problem to students at seminars before we began to study the methodology of searching for a solution.  The results never differed from Poia’s conclusion.  Attempts to solve the problem without our systematical approach looked like this:  “What if we do this?” The correct solution appeared after many “what ifs.”

Altshuller compares this to the way that technical problems are often solved, by starting with a mental image of familiar machines and then trying many “what ifs” to improve it.  Eventually, a solution is reached, but after many trials.  This method ultimately leads to solutions that resemble the starting point with added complexity.  He then suggests that there is a better way to solve problems that require guess work:  namely, start with the solution.  Altshuller then applies this to the water bucket problem.

“It is required that one of the buckets contains six liters.  Obviously this could only be the large bucket.  So, an Ideal Final Result would be to have the large bucket filled with six liters.

For that, it is necessary to fill the large bucket (with a capacity of nine liters), and then pour out three liters.  If the second bucket had a capacity of three—rather than four—liters, the problem would immediately be solved.  However, the second bucket has a four-liter capacity.  To make it a three-liter bucket requires filling it in advance with one liter.  Then it becomes possible to pour three liters out of the large bucket.

Therefore, the original problem is now reduced to another, much easier one: Measure one liter of water with the help of the two existing pails.  This creates no difficulty because 9 – (4+4) = 1.

We can fill the large bucket and then pour out four liters twice into the small bucket.  After that, one liter of water will be left in the large bucket.  We can now dump that one liter into the empty small bucket.

The four-liter bucket now “becomes” a three-liter bucket—exactly what we need.  We fill the large bucket once more to its rim, and then pour off three liters into the small bucket.  Six liters of water will now be left in the large bucket.  The problem is solved.

Altshuller goes on to state that the pattern of starting with an ideal solution can be extended to solving inventive problems.  One must start with a model of a preferred final state and then proceed by improving upon this model.

“If an inventor starts by stating an Ideal Final Result, then an ideal concept is taken as the basic model.  This model is now already simplified and improved.  Further mental experiments will not be aggravated by a burden of habitual mental forms.  These experiments immediately get the best perspective for their direction:  The inventor tries to reach the highest results by the least means possible.” [3]

The idea of starting with a model of an ideal solution is often used unconsciously by successful inventors.

How Many Ideal Final States Do we Need?
In the above dialogue, Altshuller referred to an Ideal Final Result (IFR).  If you have studied TRIZ, it is very likely that you have been exposed to this concept.  Over the years, the concept of the Ideal Final Result has changed and become more specialized, especially as it relates to contemporary ARIZ[4].  Nevertheless, there has always been a quest to identify at least one ideal final state that would serve as a guide post to the problem solver or inventor.  The idea was that the problem solver should never give up on achieving this ideal final state.  Letting go of this vision of the final state would lead down perilous paths. 

Early TRIZ theorists and practitioners strove for a “best way” to represent the final state. As an example, Altshuller poses “the” IFR for a situation which involves painting the inside of a pipe.[5]

“If, for instance, we are talking about a device to paint the internal surface of a pipe …The ideal result, in this case, must be formulated differently: “Paint comes by-itself into a tube and by-itself evenly covers the tube’s internal surface.”” (Italics added).

Notice that this formulation precludes other final states which are potentially more ideal.  For instance, what if the pipe does not require painting at all or it comes already painted? These are also viable solution paths.  If Altshuller had only considered the condition that the painting was not required, he would then be precluding the less ideal state of the paint coming inside the tube by itself. Either state is much more ideal than the starting system that required humans to paint the inside of a pipe.  The conclusion is that there may be multiple states which are far more ideal than the starting state of the system.  However, these states are not equal.  Each has to be judged on its own merits, given the situation and the limitations on solving the problem.

This highlights an interesting question for TRIZ theorists.  Is there an advantage to having multiple “ideal” paths in which some are more ideal than others?  As solution paths proliferate, some TRIZ theorists become uncomfortable.  Some would say that this puts us back to the  state of having many solution paths and ultimately many options to pick from, which seems uncomfortably close to trial and error problem solving. 

The conclusion of this text is that multiple “ideal” paths are allowable if not necessary.  The need for multiple solution paths comes from a practical aspect of solving problems and inventing. We cannot know what problems must be confronted as we continue down any particular solution path.  For instance, it may turn out that manufacturing the tube such that it does not require painting might require a lot of research into material corrosion.  We may feel confident that with our skills, the solution will ultimately be reached, but the availability of time and money resources could doom this research-based approach! It might turn out that using paint on the inside of the tube is very acceptable and will keep the initial problem at bay for many years.

Let’s Define “Simpler”
In this book, when we talk about how simple or complex a system is, we are generally referring to the number of functions and functional objects in a system.  Functional objects are object groups that modify other object groups. We have already talked about functions and their importance in system modeling.  When we describe a system as being complex, we are generally stating that there are a lot of objects and more specifically, there are more functions.  When we jump to a simpler system, we are envisioning a system that has fewer functions and consequently, parts or objects.

As a note of warning, once we achieve fewer objects, we then want to idealize the object parameters to get the most out of these objects.  Interestingly, the object’s parameters may become less simple to manufacture in order to achieve the highest level functionality.  For instance, the objects may become asymmetric and therefore more difficult to manufacture.  We can pick up an object such as a cube and say that it is more “simple” than a prism.  In this case, what we mean is that it is usually easier to make a cube than a prism, although a prism may have fewer surfaces.  Rods are simpler to manufacture than cones.  In each of these cases, we are referring to the simplicity of reproducing object parameters. However, this type of simplicity is not what we are talking about when we refer to the complexity of a system.  We are referring to the number of functions required by the system to get a job done.

We should also note that there are times that our system will necessarily become more complex.  This seems to break the rule that simple is better.  It is sometimes necessary to make a system more complex in order to make the super-system (job) simpler.  This helps to explain the cyclic nature of system complexity where systems seem to become more and more complex before something happens to drive the system to fewer consolidated objects.  We should not chalk this up to poor designs, especially if they survive.  It is more likely that the added complexity makes the super-system more simple in some way.  On the whole, the world should be simpler when we are done.  We can systematically accomplish this be first simplifying the super-system and then its sub-systems.  This is the subject of another book and will not be considered further here.

Some of the tools presented in this book were not generated by TRIZ theorists or practitioners.  “Value Engineering” has its roots in General Electric during WWII.  Because of the war, there were shortages of skilled labor, raw materials, and component parts.  Lawrence Miles and Harry Erlicher looked for acceptable substitutes. They noticed that these substitutions often reduced costs, improved the product, or both. What started out as a product of necessity, turned into a systematic process they called “Value Analysis”.[6]  TRIZ theorists and practitioners adopted these tools which are a natural extension of Substance-Field Modeling.

At the completion of the algorithm found in this book, the offering will consist of a group of objects which should be simpler than the original parts.  (The exception is when we add components to simplify the super-system).  Problems will likely remain that need to be worked out in the book TRIZ Power Tools—Resolving Problems.

It is one thing to remove job constraints and another to simplify the system used to perform it.  Most people no longer notice or object to the burdens that a complex system brings.  We often institutionalize the burdens and automatically compensate for them.  However, notice how grateful we are when the job is simplified.  We may even be delighted.

Time to Reduce Burdens?

Method

Is There a Requirement to Overhaul, Simplify, Cost Reduce, Enhance the Uniqueness or Remove Burdens of the System?

Explanation

Many problems will not require system simplification.  For instance, you have an immediate situation where there is a customer problem or complaint.  It may be preferable to skip TRIZ Power Tools—Resolving Problems.  (Included in the problem solution step are considerations which can allow for simplification of the system in order to fix the problem.)  On the other hand, there may be a requirement to revitalize or cost-reduce a product.  Better yet, the process of simplification often creates products which simplify the lives of the consumers.  This step can have a delighting effect on the customer and differentiate the offering even more than increases in performance.  Let’s consider situations where simplification may or may not be required.

Example—Customer Complaint

You have a new product that has been fielded long enough that customer complaints are coming in. 

Is There a Requirement to Overhaul, Simplify, Cost Reduce, Enhance the Uniqueness or Remove Burdens of the System?

Usually, reducing burdens is a strategic consideration as when business leaders consider a product to be non-competitive.  In this case, we have an urgent situation that requires immediate attention.  It is doubtful that this should invoke simplification.

Example—Creating a New Product

You have just created the specification for a new product.  Should the unburdening algorithm be invoked?

Is There a Requirement to Overhaul, Simplify, Cost Reduce, Enhance the Uniqueness or Remove Burdens of the System?

This case probably does not bear consideration, but here is an opportunity to point out that there is a natural sequence of the major steps.  Simplification is only possible when there is architecture to simplify.  Since there is only a specification for a new product, it is likely that there would be an opportunity for simplification after it has been created. (Prototyping offerings is the subject of the foregoing book.)

Example—High Cost Product

Your product is on store shelves but people are not buying it?  Analysis shows that the competitive alternative is less expensive than yours.

Is There a Requirement to Overhaul, Simplify, Cost Reduce, Enhance the Uniqueness or Remove Burdens of the System?

This step is probably a good place to invoke unburdening.  There will be a number of benefits.  The product will cost less and it will be more exciting to use, since simplification involves removing various customer burdens. 

System and Super-System Function Diagram

Simple systems always begin with the super-system.  The market is defined as a group of people that are trying to get a job done under certain circumstances.  The market segment has the same impediments to getting the job done.  You create a system that helps with a part of that job.  Your system is not necessary except within the context of getting their job done.  The customer wants to get the job done with the lowest number of burdens and in the least complex way possible.

Remember that your system is not essential to the market, only the overall outcome of getting the job done is important.  If you simplify the system from the viewpoint of the customer, the most compelling outcomes may be the elimination of your system.  Here, the system producer may have a conflict of interests with the market.  Ultimately, we would like to be completely aligned with the market.  Elimination of our system by the creation of new products that satisfy the market may be one route to satisfying this conflict of interests.  If you do not take this step, then it is likely that others will.  If this is too hard to stomach, then allowing your system to take on functions of other objects in the system may be easier to take.

The process of simplification must take into account the super-system.  It can then move to the system and then to components of the system.  Function modeling[7] is a practical and useful approach to begin to understand why objects are required in the system.  A functional diagram gives a snapshot of all the elements and what they do without reference to time or sequence of operation.

It is often surprising to see that most system objects are used to provide support to the main objects that do the actual work.  Those parts that perform the actual work are more essential.  Once we understand the function of each system element, we want to target elements in the system for elimination in order to solve the problem.  While it is not always possible to eliminate these elements, it is important that we do everything possible to this end.  When we eliminate any element, we reduce the burdens of the system imposed on the users and the environment.

Observing and walking the process helps us to understand the functions that humans perform.  Unfortunately, this does not capture many of the unexpressed functions performed by objects in the system.  Consider the job of feeding a pet.  Objects perform functions such as protecting or handling the food and water.  These functions will be overlooked if we focus only on the process. 

Function modeling[8] is a practical and useful approach to understand why objects are required in the system.  A functional diagram gives a snapshot of all the elements and what they do without reference to time or sequence of operation.  This diagram will help us to understand the unspoken functions.

It is important to use good form in writing the functions as we will use this information to make important decisions.  If you are not sure how to do this, review the rules in the introduction.

Method

Step 1:  Identify the various missions where these jobs are performed.

Step 2:  Include missions with degraded operation or emergency performance.

Explanation

The super-system is trying to do a few main jobs.  These Jobs can be done under a variety of situations which we will call “Missions”.   Our system will perform certain Functions which assist in doing these Jobs or Missions.

Example—Pet Feeding System

Step 1:  Identify the various missions where these jobs are performed.

Mission 1:  the feeding system must nourish one animal for a day at a time.

Mission 2:  the feeding system must nourish several animals for a day at a time.

Mission 3:  the feeding system must nourish outdoor animals for up to one week, providing clean food and water.

Step 2:  Include missions with degraded operation or emergency performance.

Mission 4:  the feeding system must not allow an animal to die due to want of water.  No failure condition will allow an animal to be without water for more than a half day in extreme heat.

Method

Step 1:  Document the process with a story-board or process map.  Describe each step of the job in functional terms and note whether the function is preventative or remedial.

Step 2:  If Necessary, break down process steps into progressively smaller steps.   This can be done with a Story Board or a Process Map. 

Explanation

From the human point of view, jobs are performed in stepwise processes.  Personally stepping through the process and noting each function as it occurs helps us to identify many functions that are performed. All systems (even products) are processes. The value of either of these tools is mostly found in the ability to break a process down into increasingly finer steps.  Do not pay great attention to all of the knobs in this step.  A process map gives a snapshot of the sequence of functions, without reference to causality and may not include all of the possible elements of the system or super-system.

We should note that when it comes to service or manufacturing processes and even to some extent products, many, if not most of the processes are there because some other process in the system is not doing its job.  In other words, many processes are preventative or remedial and are only there because the original builders of the system could not solve a problem.  When we understand this, we can go back to understand why these preventative or remedial problems exist and then solve the deeper problem to make them unnecessary, thus simplifying the system.

The object of this step is not just to understand what the job performer is doing, but rather, what the job performer is trying to get done successfully[9].  Often, the job performer would like to go beyond what usually happens.  A successfully achieved job is the goal, but is usually not performed for each step along the way.

Example—Pet Feeding System

Step 1:  Document the process with a story-board or process map.  Describe each step of the job in functional terms. Describe each step of the job in functional terms and note whether the function is preventative or remedial.

02 Pet Bowl Process Map

Gathering the scattered food is remedial.

Step 2:  If necessary, break down process steps into progressively smaller steps.   This can be done with a Story Board or a Process Map.

03 Process Map Break down

Method

Step 1:  In functional terms, describe the main job.  This is a function that the system performs on the super-system product.

Step 2:  Decide which elements of the super-system our offering will serve and the modification that our system will perform.  If these elements are not already on the diagram then add them and show the functions that they perform.  We refer to the product that our system serves as the system product.

Step 3:  In functional terms describe our offering showing all of the modifications to the super-system. 

Step 4:  Include elements in the immediate super-system (the job environment)

Explanation

A function diagram gives us a snapshot of all the functions that are important to the job.  Many of these functions are not obvious when we look at the system from a process perspective.  Here, we will see the job and our system from a new perspective.  This perspective will be valuable as we consider ways to overcome the customer constraints and improve the system.

Example—Pet Bowl

Step 1:  In functional terms, describe the main job.  This is a function that the system performs on the super-system product.

04 Food and Water Nourish

The overall job is to nourish the pet. The food and water directly nourish the pet.

Step 2:  Decide which elements of the super-system our offering will serve and the modification that our system will perform.  If these elements are not already on the diagram then add them and show the functions that they perform.  We refer to the product that our system serves as the system product.

The feeding system’s primary function is to contain the food and water.  We gave them a different color and indicate that they serve the food and the water.  Since we are already sensitized to the need to protect the food, we also include the functions of stopping the birds from harming the food.  Note that this is a weak function since little is done to stop them.  Currently, the water bowl does little to control the bacteria in the water so this function is not included.

05 Pet Food Jobs Function

Step 3:  In functional terms describe our offering showing all of the modifications to the super-system. 

Step 4:  Include elements in the immediate super-system (the job environment)

06 Add stuff from the environment

From experience, we note the obscure function that the birds soil the patio furniture.  If the pet food were not there, the birds would spend little time soiling the patio furniture.

Method

Step 1:  Consider the main jobs required for and by the offering by considering each stage of the Life-Cycle.  

Step 2:  Include any people that are involved in these job functions.

08 Life Cycle Jobs

Explanation

It is easy to imagine products and services at the point of use.  This is the moment that these systems were created for.  However, there are many more functions that the Job requires and many more functions that are performed on the system.  These functions need to be included in our consideration of potential problems of the system.

In addition to the main job that we are performing there are other jobs which are required during the lifecycle of the product.  At a minimum, the market may be required to purchase the product, transport it, set it up, maintain it, store it and eventually dispose of the product. Non-consumers exclude themselves from the market because these jobs may be relatively complex, time consuming or inconvenient.  These functions are not new; it is just that they are usually ignored. Whole industries are built around making these additional jobs user-friendly.  We will not ignore these jobs, especially if they create roadblocks for potential consumers. Our system does not exist in a vacuum.

Other systems, suppliers, delivery channels and operators are required to create a viable offering.  In order for our product to live, many other jobs are required.  If we fail to recognize these jobs, then we may fail to understand the main reasons that potential consumers and delivery channels may not want our product.  We lose sight of the non-consumer.  The Product Life-Cycle Map will help us to look at all of the jobs that our system may require to exist.  Various functions are associated with these jobs.  When we understand these jobs and their functions, we will be considering the whole offering.

Example--Pet Feeder

Step 1:  Consider the main jobs required for and by the offering by considering each stage of the Life-Cycle Map.

We include the packaging and Transport of the Product

Step 2:  Include any people that are involved in these job functions.

07 Add Life Cycle Jobs

Method

Step 1: If the product already exists, take it through the range of experiences outlined in the life-cycle map

Step 2:  If a product does not exist, make crude prototypes and simulate their use.

Step 3:  Take special note of human interactions and functions. What functions “require” human operators?

Step 4:  Are humans required to monitor, maintain or service our system?

Step 5:  Include stakeholder “identity functions”—these are functions that may be adversely affected when we simplify the system.

Explanation

Human elements are good candidates for removal.  Perhaps our system can perform additional functions or solve a problem that removes the human from the system.  It is difficult to understand the feelings of the user without using the system.  Efforts to imagine its use are just not enough.  Remember the life cycle of the product?  Use this map to understand the range of human experiences from purchasing the product to disposal and recycling.

Example—Pet Bowl

Step 1: If the product already exists, take it through the range of experiences outlined in the life-cycle map

Step 2:  If a product does not exist, make crude prototypes and simulate their use.

Step 3:  Take special note of human interactions and functions. What functions “require” human operators?

Step 3:  Take special note of human interactions and functions. What functions “require” humans to perform?

Functions that require humans to perform are transport of the product by manufacturing, sales people and the final user must transport the container that holds the product.  Someone has to clean the water and food bowls, especially in hot weather.  A person also has to remove unused food and water to keep the population of bacteria down.

Step 4:  Are humans required to monitor, maintain or service our system?

Someone monitors the condition of the food for pests and contamination.

09 Add Humans

Step 5:  Include stakeholder “identity functions”—these are functions that may be adversely affected when we simplify the system.

No example is given.

Eliminate Unwanted Features

Method

Step 1: Go to TRIZ Power Tools-- Creating Offerings and perform the necessary steps to determine the essential offering features.

Step 2: Remove system elements related to the unwanted features.

Explanation

The first attempt to simplify is to reduce the requirements or features of the product.  A product or service can truly have too many features for the target market segment.  If you have not invoked TRIZ Power Tools Creating Offerings, this would be the time to do this.  Each requirement of the product costs money.  It is best to understand what the target market segment really wants before we prototype or simplify a product. 

Note that in doing this, you may discover that you require yet more features.  This is fine so long as the target market segment is on board.  Make sure, however, that you get away with the fewest possible requirements.  There is a step in the process that challenges the consumer to throw away features for those most required.  The consumer may be required to make small adjustments but with a big difference in price.

Simplify by Stealing Functions from the Super-System

So far, we have only described the current system.  We are now going to consider changes to this system.  In this section we “steal” functions from the super-system and require our system to perform them.  This increases the value of our product or service.  Notice that this makes our product or service more complex, but that is fine, especially if we are able to reduce the complexity of the job in the eyes of the job executor. 

Please note that what follows does not yet include these stolen functions from the super-system.

Method10 Theft from Super system

Step 1:  List objects in the environment associated with the job at hand.  Take special note of objects with similar functions.

Step 2: The Tool takes over all or part of another objects functions.  This is not simply a combining of objects.  When you are done, one of the two original objects should be “invisible.”  There should be no compromise in the original functions.

Step 3: Completely new and unexpected benefits must emerge.  Try different orientations and combinations.

Explanation

This is a tool borrowed from TRIZ Universality[10] and also the ASIT[11] Unification Tool.  All systems within the super-system, including the super-system itself, are competing for functions.  When we steal functions, the more closely related the function is to the function of your system, the more readily it will be accepted

Example—Food Bowl

In a pet feeding system, the food bowl is usually considered separately from the water bowl.  Here we will consider how the food bowl might be able to steal another function.

Step 1:  List objects in the environment associated with the job at hand.  Take special note of objects with similar functions.

11 Food and waterA water bowl is also a part of the job of nourishing the dog.  It also performs the function of containing a substance.

Step 2: The Tool takes over all or part of another objects functions.  This is not simply a combining of objects.  When you are done, one of the two original objects should be “invisible.”  There should be no compromise in the original functions.

The water bowl and food bowl are combined. 12 Feeding Bowl becomes water bowl

Step 3: Completely new and unexpected benefits must emerge.  Try different orientations and combinations.

Method13 Theft from Competing Objects

Step 1: Consider objects which provide the extreme of the function as well.

Step 2: Consider taking over all or part of these object’s functions. New and exciting capabilities should emerge, as well as new synergies between the objects that could not exist before.

Explanation

Identify other objects or processes that seek to provide the same functions or do the same job.  Sometimes these are not obvious alternatives.    Though they may be from completely different industries, they are the true competition.  This concept is also a form of the Universality principle[12].

Example—Pet Feeding System

Now that we have combined the water dish and the food dish, how might we steal functions or attributes from competing systems?  Disposable containers are often used for food and water bowls. This is because they do not tip and they provide storage for long periods of time.

Step 1: Consider objects which provide the extreme of the function as well.

Disposed food containers can be used for pet drinking water.14 Large Food Storage Containers

Step 2: Consider taking over all or part of these object’s functions. New and exciting capabilities should emerge, as well as new synergies between the objects that could not exist before.

The pet can no longer drag the food bowl around, scattering the food.15 Water Storage Food Bowl

Method16 Boost Incidental Functions

Step 1:  Identify incidental functions that the system already performs.

Step 2: What elements in the super-system normally deliver this function?

Step 3: Boost these incidental functions to take over for the other super-system elements.  Look for unexpected capabilities to emerge.

Explanation

Most objects in a system provide incidental functions that we rarely notice.  If we can identify these incidental functions and boost them, it is often possible to create more value for our product.  Sometimes it takes little more than watching people use the product or service and then noticing all of the other things that it does.  This is another way to perform the Universality Principle[13]

Example—Solar-Voltaic Panels

Step 1:  Identify incidental functions that the system already performs.

The solar panels incidentally protect the house.

17 PV Function Diagram

Step 2: What elements in the super-system normally deliver this function?

Roof Tiles.18 Roof Tiles

Step 3: Boost these incidental functions to take over for the other super-system elements.  Look for unexpected capabilities to emerge.

Solar panels double as Roof tiles.19 PV Roof Tiles

Method20 Steal Human Functions

Step 1: Look at the system from the viewpoint of humans that interact with the system. Are humans required to operate the system? Are humans required to maintain the system?

Step 2: What changes to the system would allow the human to be removed from the system?

Explanation

Unless the object of the system is to directly serve humans in the system, there is usually a burdensome element to any function provided by humans to the system.  When humans are eliminated from any function in the system, the system becomes less burdensome.  Note that in order to oust humans, the human function must be de-intellectualized.  This is another example of the principle of Universality[14].

Example—Pet Feeding System

Step 1: Look at the system from the viewpoint of humans that interact with the system. Are humans required to operate the system? Are humans required to maintain the system?

A human is required to fill the water bowl each day.21 Hose Fills Water bowl

Step 2: What changes to the system would allow the human to be removed from the system?

What if the Feeding System were to replenish the water?

22 Human not required

Method

Step 1:  Identify jobs that precede or follow the main job.

Step 2: Absorb the preceding or following job into the job-to-be-done.

Explanation

We may directly simplify the super-system (SS) by taking super-system job functions into a sub-system.  Often, a job is preceded or followed by other necessary jobs.  These jobs can be absorbed into the job that we are considering.  These jobs may not be on the life-cycle of the product or service.

Example—Movie

The main job that we are considering is that of being entertained at a movie.

Step 1:  Identify jobs that precede or follow the main job.

Many people have to hire a baby sitter, pick them up and take them home.

Step 2: Absorb the preceding or following job into the job-to-be-done.

The child is taken care of at the movie.

Method23 Steal Human Measurement

Step 1:  Identify objects in the super-system that perform measurement and feedback functions, especially if this is performed by humans or alternative competing objects.

Step 2:  Take over the functions.

Explanation

We may directly simplify the super-system (SS) by taking super-system job functions into a sub-system.  One important type of function to steal from the job is informing functions.  If humans are required to monitor the job then removing this burden simplifies the lives of those involved.

Example—Pet Feeder

Step 1:  Identify objects in the super-system that perform measurement and feedback functions, especially if this is performed by humans or alternative competing objects.

Humans frequently look to see the level of water level and then adjust it.

Step 2:  Take over the functions.

The pet feeding system must detect the level of the water and automatically adjust it so that the user does not need to perform this function.

24 Big Diagram Steal Human Detection

Method25 Steal Human Measurement of OUr System

Step 1: Identify human actions on the system.

Step 2: Assume that the system performs these functions on itself.[16]

Step 3: Note that in order to oust human, the human function must be de-intellectualized

Explanation

The Master shall not serve the slave.  All human interactions on the system should be performed by the system if they are necessary[15]

Method26 Boost Incidental Measurement Functions

Step 1: Identify incidental functions that the system already performs. 

Step 2: What elements in the super-system normally deliver this function?

Step 3: Boost these incidental functions to take over for the other super-system elements.  Look for unexpected capabilities to emerge.

Explanation

Most objects in a system provide incidental functions that we rarely notice.  If we can identify these incidental functions and boost them, it is often possible to create more value for our offering[17].

Target Burdensome Elements for Elimination

Once we understand the function of each system element, we want to target elements in the system for elimination in order to remove the customer constraints and to simplify the job.  All elements carry burdens, regardless of their importance.  When we eliminate any element, we reduce the burdens of the system imposed on the users and the environment.

In order to give a rationale for eliminating elements, we need to understand that some elements are less important to the system.  Those elements that directly perform the work are most important and care must be taken to eliminate or replace these elements.  Elements that provide power and control are next in importance. Finally, those that provide structure or support to those elements already mentioned are the least important. It is often surprising to see how many system objects are used to provide support to the objects that do the actual work.

All functions which are not directly involved in the primary function are referred to as auxiliary functions.  Auxiliary functions support the primary useful function.  They may only be required because something else in the system is not doing its job.  Auxiliary functions can also be very expensive or burdensome in other ways.  For example feedback elements are often expensive and never directly impact the useful function of the system.  The importance of eliminating burdensome auxiliary elements cannot be overstated.  Missing problem elements are no longer problems.  All burdens of the elements are removed and the system becomes more ideal.  In this step, we will target problematic auxiliary elements for elimination and then we will look for every opportunity to eliminate them.

More care must be taken when eliminating or replacing the elements that perform the primary function of the system.  Replacing these elements means that we will likely be identifying a new physical phenomenon to deliver the primary function.  This is usually performed only when the system has exhausted all resources and improvement has reached a point of diminishing returns.  When the physical phenomenon is changed, there are many unknowns which are introduced.  While this may be necessary in the long run, it can often delay the solution to the problem while these problems are uncovered and resolved.

Elements can provide several functions which increase their worth to the system.  This is effectively accomplished by consolidating multiple elements into one element.  (This is a strategy for improving the worth of expensive elements).

Identifying Burdensome or Constraining Functions
There is no one thing that causes the constraints.  Likewise the features that remove the constraints could be features of the product, manufacturing process, business model, consumers, channels or partners.  Just as there can be many solutions to a problem, so can there be many different things that result in the consumer constraints.  For the same problem, one company might remove the constraint by making changes to the business model.  Another company might make changes to the product.

Now that we have created the function diagram, we are ready to identify the functions that burden the system and super-system.  There are many types of burdens.  The most important burden is the constraint on performing the job.  Everything we have done so far has lead us to the constraints on the job executor.  We would love to identify elements involved in the burdens and, if possible, eliminate them.

Besides elements that cause the constraints, elements are considered “low-value” because they are overly expensive relative to the function that they perform.  Functions can waste time, space, energy and material.  The system can be tedious to operate.  Elements can be harmful (though they perform a useful function).  The irony is that we do not recognize burdens.  This happens for two reasons.  In the first place, each time that a system is improved, the new system may be such an improvement over the previous system, that we do not think of any new requirements that the system puts upon us to be a burden.  Secondly, we become used to carrying the burden. 

Consider video stores which have been around for years.  In the beginning, we were not sensitive to the various burdens that video stores placed upon us.  Selection was expansive and the relative cost to rent a video was minimal.  This offering was a great improvement over buying and owning our own video library which often contained unwanted videos.  As time progressed, the rental behavior became entrenched.  Each time we rent a video there is a time demand of traveling to the store, walking about, standing in a line and then returning home.  There is the burden of using a vehicle to perform this task.  This task incurs the cost of gas, wear and tear on the vehicle, pollution of the environment and the cumulative infrastructure required to move us about.  This example is just one of many that demonstrate how we, as consumers, become used to carrying (and compensating for) burdens without begrudging them.

All products have unnoticed burdens.  Eventually, these burdens are recognized and an emerging business moves to provide the function in new ways that avoids placing these burdens on the consumer.  Would it not be auspicious if we could identify and remove the long-accepted burdens and reap the rewards of delighting them?

Method

Target functions or functional elements that cause the constraints on the target market.

Explanation

In determining the required features of our product or service, we are most interested in removing the constraints on the target market segment.  Remember that the target market segment is defined as Job + Job Executor + Constraint on performing the job.  This is the problem that we want to resolve for the customer.  We want to remove the constraint, if we perform nothing else.  Here we are effectively removing the constraint by removing functions or functional elements that cause the constraint.  If this is not possible, then we will consider changing the attributes of the remaining elements in order to remove the constraints.

Example—Pet Feeding System

Target functions or functional elements that cause the constraints on the target market.

Since the target market segment is people with outdoor pets that are irritated by living organisms that degrade the food and water, the functions that directly cause the constraints on the target market are the functions delivered by the birds, insects and bacteria. 28 Causes Constraints

Method

Step 1:  Identify the cost of each element. 

Step 2:  Calculate the cumulative function rank of each element by adding up the rank for each function that is performed by the element according to the rule in the box Below.

29 Function Rank

Step 3:  Calculate the value of each element according to the rule in the box to the right.30 Value

Step 4:  Identify the elements with low value.  These elements are candidates for elimination or combination with other elements.  People in the system should always be candidates for elimination unless the person receives benefits by remaining in the system such as exercise or entertainment.

Explanation

Low value elements are immediate candidates for elimination from the system. While we might not immediately eliminate them, we should know them for what they are so that when the opportunity presents itself, we can confidently eliminate them.  Note that harmful functions have a rank of zero.  This is surprising since most would believe that this should be negative.  Harmful functions do not have to have a strong effect in the system.  If we assume that the effect can be greatly decreased, then why should it be negative?  Preventative and remedial functions are also auxiliary functions, however there is a sense that they should be of lower rank than other auxiliary functions.  The argument for leaving them as an auxiliary function is that virtually all auxiliary functions can be thought of as preventative or remedial.  A power tool requires the auxiliary support of a table.  This can be thought of as remedial because the power tool is not doing its job in that it requires support.

Example—Pet Feeding System

Step 1:  Identify the cost of each element.  We start with indicating the cost of each of the objects.

31 Component Costs

Step 2:  Calculate the cumulative function rank of each element by adding up the rank for each function that is performed by the element according to the rule in the accompanying box: 

32 Rank Calculation

Step 3:  Calculate the value of each element according to the rule in the left box:

33 Value Calculation

Each cumulative rank calculated in the previous step is divided by the cost of each element in the system.

We come to the interesting observation that from the viewpoint of the job, the package has more value than the feeding system or the water bowl!  This is because the package costs so little and all functions performed by “useful” system objects are auxiliary. Of course, the value of the pests is zero.

Step 4:  Identify the elements with low value.  These elements are candidates for elimination or combination with other elements.  People in the system should always be candidates for elimination unless the person receives benefits by remaining in the system such as exercise or entertainment.The birds, ants and bacteria have no useful function in the system and are therefore the best candidates for elimination from the viewpoint of value to the system.

34 Low Value Elements

Method35 Nasa

Step 1: Experience or simulate the required actions to use the offering.

Step 2: Consider the Mental Demand required for thinking, deciding, calculating, remembering, looking and searching.  If data gathering is required, consider these three levels of gathering data.  Ambient:  Takes no special effort to gather data. Natural:  Takes no special effort to interpret data.  Continuous:  Takes no special effort to update data.

Step 3: Consider the Physical Demand required for pushing, pulling, turning, controlling and acting.  Is it easy versus demanding, slow versus brisk, slack versus strenuous, restful versus laborious?

Step 4: Consider the Temporal Demand.  This is the time pressure, pace or rate required using the offering.  Is it slow versus leisurely or rapid versus frantic?

Step 5: Consider the Effort required.  How hard are they required to work (mentally and physically)? This is considered over the length of the job rather than the mental and physical demand per operation.

Step 6: Consider the Level of Performance.  How successful was the task or goal?  How satisfied were the participants with the performance?

Step 7: Consider the Level of Frustration:  How insecure, discouraged, irritated, stressed and annoyed were the participants?  Were they secure, gratified, content, relaxed or complacent?

Step 8: Consider the Emotional burden:  Look at the current design.  Does it inspire awe?  Does it make you suspicious of the product?  Is it aesthetically pleasing?

Step 9: Consider all other human actions on the system including monitoring and detecting.  All functions which require the master to serve the slave are burdens.

Explanation

If humans must be involved in the job, there should be a persistent drive towards minimizing their burdens.  There is a discipline called “Human Factors” which seeks to minimize human burdens.  While we may not become experts in this, we should do all that we can to understand human burdens from the viewpoint of human factors.  This is especially important if there is a requirement to operate the product or service for extended periods of time.  A very nice tool for considering human factors comes from the NASA workload rating sheet.

Example—Pet Feeding System

After considering all of the steps, monitoring the pet food and the water are the main burdens.  These should be eliminated.

36 Burdensome Functions

Method37 Clock

Step 1:  Measure the cumulative time for each function and identify high time functions:  One way to do this is to step through each element and ask how much time is spent interacting with each element.

Step 2:  Identify repetitive procedures.

Step 3:  Identify batch processes.

Explanation

Of all resources, human talent and time is the most precious.  It is easy to get used to using time to perform functions and lose track of how much time it takes.  This is especially true for functions that we do periodically, such as weekly tasks.  Mowing the lawn each week becomes a routine, but think of the total time spent over the course of years!  This same realization emerges even in business practices where we should be more sensitive to time use. We simply get used to spending this time or we learn to compensate for the squandered time.  On the other hand, the use of time is sometimes desirable. Some functions are most ideally done for a long time or a set time such as exercise.

Example--Pet Feeding System

Step 1:  Measure the cumulative time for each function and identify high time functions:  One way to do this is to step through each element and ask how much time is spent interacting with each element.

The time spent replacing spoiled food, sweeping the deck, cleaning soiled chairs or cleaning the scum out of the water bowl are occasional and “unexpected” time wasters.  While irritating, they are not to greatest time consumers.

Step 2:  Identify repetitive procedures.

Cumulatively, the repetitive time spent replacing the food and the water represents the greatest usage of time.

Step 3:  Identify batch processes.

Replacing the food or the water is a batch process.  The pet “processes” the batch by eating and drinking.  This opens the opportunity for continuous or just-in-time processes.

38 Time Burdensome Functions

Method39 Water Faucet

Step 1:  Identify functions that consume materials.  It may be necessary to consider useful functions and ask whether there are additional functions required to describe the creation of waste.

Step 2:  What is the least material that must be thrown away in order to perform this function.  Waste is relative to this ideal level.

Step 3:  Identify additional functions required to deal with the issues of waste.

Explanation

“Leaks” of material are another example of waste that is often taken for granted.  Waste products, such as garbage, are a good example of “leaks” in the system.  Most chemical processes create waste products.  It is often possible to minimize  the waste or put it to good use.  The elimination of wasted materials can make a cumulative difference in  the overall profit or loss of a process.

Example—Pet Feeding System

Step 1:  Identify functions that consume materials.  It may be necessary to consider useful functions and ask whether there are additional functions required to describe the creation of waste.

Outdoor pet containers are legendary at wasting food and water, simply from the action of the pets themselves.  In addition, when food is spoiled, it is lost and when animals scatter the food it is lost.  Waste occurs at a high level in this system.

Step 2:  What is the least material that must be thrown away in order to perform this function.  Waste is relative to this ideal level.

No food or water MUST be wasted.

Step 3:  Identify additional functions required to deal with the issues of waste.

The human that maintains the pet feeding system must clean up the mess.

40 Wastes Materials

Method41 Wastes Money

Step 1:  Identify transactional functions where money is spent.

Step 2:  Without looking at the function diagram, ask yourself if there are obvious situations where the user is spending money without receiving value.

Step 3:  Verify that the functional diagram includes the transactional functions related to the expenditure and waste of money.

Step 4:  Are there additional burdens that occur because of this waste of money?

Explanation

Here we consider the case where money is spent but no value is returned.  This is a burden on the user and must decrease with time.  This type of burdensome function will usually show up as a flawed transactional function.

Example—Pet Feeding System

Step 1:  Identify functions that consume materials.  It may be necessary to consider useful functions and ask whether there are additional functions required to describe the creation of waste.

No instance of functions that directly wastes money could be found.

Business Example—Cell Phone Minutes

Step 1:  Identify transactional functions where money is spent.

“I sign up for 600 minutes per month on my cell phone.”

Step 2:  Without looking at the function diagram, ask yourself if there are obvious situations where the user is spending money without receiving value.

“I often don’t use even 300 minutes, thus wasting the cost of 300 minutes without receiving any value.”  Notice in this situation that the consumer feels compelled to compromise.  The customer continues to do this because of the high penalty when 300 minutes is overrun.  The additional cost of wasting the unused minutes is usually lower than the cost of overrunning.  Thus the consumer is forced to compromise.

Step 3:  Verify that the functional diagram includes the transactional functions related to the expenditure and waste of money.

Note that “enriches” is an excessive function and denotes the waste of money.

42 Cell Phone

Step 4:  Are there additional burdens that occur because of this waste of money?

None mentioned here.

Method43 Wastes Space

Identify functions that require a lot of space relative to the least amount of space required to perform the function.

Explanation

Often, the use of space is ignored, especially if a lot of room is available.  However, there are situations where excess room is not available and space is a premium.  Also, any space that is required to perform a function is always a burden regardless of the available space.  Someone must always deal with objects that require a lot of space.

Example—Pet Feeding System

Identify functions that require a lot of space relative to the least amount of space required to perform the function.

While all systems with physical elements use space, the space required for a pet feeding system is not considered especially space wasting.  On the other hand, providing space for the spills is space consuming.

44 Volume Functions

Method

Consider functions that expend energy and look for energy waste. Compare the energy used to the least energy required.

Explanation

Many modern conveniences save time at the expense of energy waste. We almost always use more energy than is required because energy is cheap.  The unfortunate consequence is the cumulative energy and its costs.  It is necessary to advertise appliances as being “green” in order to draw attention to the energy costs.  Without this, the consumer might never notice the waste of energy.

Example—Pet Feeding System

Consider functions that expend energy and look for energy waste. Compare the energy used to the least energy required.

No instance of functions that wastes excessive energy could be found.

Example—Leaf Blower

Consider functions that expend energy and look for energy waste. Compare the energy used to the least energy required.

In this case, the debris must be moved a horizontal distance of 20 feet and up 5 feet to be placed in a garbage can or storage receptacle. 

45 Moving Leaves

The least energy that is required to perform this function is the potential energy change.  (Weight times the height). It is very small and certainly much smaller than the energy which will be expended with a leaf blower.  (The energy expended to move the 20 ft. is extremely small as well. In a vacuum this is zero.  This considers the fact that energy to accelerate can offset the energy to decelerate.  In air, there is a small resistance caused by the air.)  Therefore, this function wastes a great deal of energy.  This is represented in the following diagram by the excessive movement of air and the minimal movement of the leaves compared to the energy going into the air.  The author’s leaf blow is 1/3 horsepower!

46 Blower Functions

Method

Identify harmful functions directly from the function diagram.

Explanation

Some of the most obvious burdens are those imposed by harmful functions.  Wear and tear of crucial parts cost consumers billions of dollars a year.  Food is wasted due to spoilage.  Costly and time-consuming repairs are required because of harmful functions.  The irony is that most harmful functions are caused by elements that also perform useful functions.

Example—Pet Feeding System

Identify harmful functions directly from the function diagram.

Note that this function diagram is filled with harmful functions which are already noted with the zigzag lines.  The key harmful functions will be noted with an “H”.  These lead to the other harmful functions.  If the pet were not able to move the feeding system or water bowl, much less food and water would be dumped out.  If the pet food did not attract the birds and insects, they would not be able to harm the food and the birds would not soil the furniture.  If the water bowl did not collect bacteria then the water would not be able to nourish and contain it.  Further, the bacteria would not be able to harm the pet.

47 Harmful Functions

Method

Step 1:  Identify functions that fix or remediate the results of other harmful functions or a function that is not carrying its weight.

Step 2:  Identify functions that are solely there to prevent something from happening.

Explanation

Almost any useful function can be thought of as fixing a problem or potential problem that something else causes. For instance, a function may be required because something else does not do its job well enough or because another object is harmful. 

Example—Pet Feeding System

Step 1:  Identify functions that fix or remediate the results of other harmful functions or a function that is not carrying its weight.

The human removes the effects of the birds and the ants by gathering up scattered food or removing food with insects attached.

Step 2:  Identify functions that are solely there to prevent something from happening.

The human has to remove unused water and food to prevent spoilage.  While not shown here, the nourishing of the food and water could be seen as remedial because the previously placed food did not do its job of continuously nourishing the animal.  The pet could be seen as not doing its job because it always requires nourishment.  While these observations may seem somewhat outlandish, they lead to different types of products.  For instance, a pet that does not need nourishment is the now-popular  robotic pet.

48 Remedial Functions

Method

Step 1:  Identify functions that fix or remediate the results of other harmful functions or a function that is not carrying its weight.

Step 2:  Identify functions that are solely there to prevent something from happening.

Explanation

In order to decide which elements are the best targets for elimination, we summarize the various burdens and make a decision on which we would like to target for elimination. 

Example—Pet Feeding System

Step 1: Summarize the burdens from the function diagram.

49 Burdensome Functions

Step 2:  Create a rationale for which you want to target the most.

The bacteria, birds, and insects are those that seem to carry the highest burdens.  With those removed, the harm to the pet is diminished, the target market is unconstrained and the human burdens are diminished. We would also like to remove the human from the system entirely in order to reduce the human burden and simplify the life of the target market.  The water bowl and feeding system are also candidates for removal but have a lower priority since they will likely be instrumental in removing the human from the system.  Also, if we view this from the perspective of the manufacturer of the pet nourishment system, then we would like to retain the food and water bowls.

For the first objects to remove from the system, we will choose the bacteria since they cause burden to both the pet and to its owner.  What we would like to do is to remove the bacteria from the system if possible.

Remove Deep Reasons for Constraints and Elements

Method50 Causal Analysis

Step 1:  Step 1:  If constraints have been developed, go to TRIZ Power Tools-- Discovering Cause and use the approaches of this book to discover the causes of the constraints on the target market.

Step 2: Go to: TRIZ Power Tools--Discovering Why Targeted Objects Are Required.

Explanation

In order to remove the constraints, we need to understand what is causing them.  This requires that we link the chain of causes to the problem.  As we do this, we will discover that there are multiple causes that we can attack to resolve the problem.  We will also discover that the problem can be attacked in multiple systems, as we will see in the next step.

The removal of the constraint should cause as immediate relief as possible.  Most people will consume if the removal of the pain is immediate.  People are looking for aspirins rather than vitamins.  They want immediate relief.

Note:  The main explanation of causal analysis can be found in TRIZ Power Tools Discovering Cause

Determining why Elements Exist in the System
The explanation for determining why something is required or exists in a system can be found in TRIZ Power Tools-- Discovering Why Targeted Objects are Required.  If you have not read these books, please do so and return to this section.

All useful elements exist to provide functions that other elements in the system or super-system require.  Often elements exist because they are required to solve a problem that other elements introduce.  Something in the system is not doing its job and an element is introduced to fix the problem.  Almost any useful function can be cast in this light.  If we can discover these deeper problems and resolve them without adding elements then the system becomes simpler.

Harmful elements exist because they cannot be avoided or because they are not yet recognized and removed.  Most harmful elements also provide a useful function which makes them difficult to eliminate.

Understanding and removing the need for (or cause of) the target element allows us to potentially remove large groups of elements from the system.  Many elements or sub-systems are required to compensate for other elements that are not doing their job.  There is a function that is flawed or harmful and this fact has become obscure to us.  The element that is not doing its job is being hidden by compensating elements.  If we can discover this weakness and correct it, then the elements that compensate can be removed.  That makes this particular method of simplifying systems very powerful.  Most useful functions can be framed as compensating functions.

Example—Pet Feeding System

Step 1:  Step 1:  If constraints have been developed, go to TRIZ Power Tools-- Discovering Cause and use the approaches of this book to discover the causes of the constraints on the target market.

The constraints on the pet feeding system are related to having to always clean the containers.  Causal analysis takes us back to the deeper problems of bacterial films coating the sides of the containers and the food that drops into the water from the dog’s muzzle.  This comes from the size and shape of the water bowl.  Since it is large, the dog can put its food-coated muzzle into the water.  The food becomes food for the bacteria.  A potential solution to this problem is to appropriately shape the bowl to not accept food particles.  More to come…

Step 2:  Go to: TRIZ Power Tools— Discovering Why Targeted Objects Are Required.

This example is used in the above book.  Below is a summary of the results.

51 Pet Removes Waer

The first step was to determine the reason that the bacteria exist in the pet bowls:  Following is the results of this analysis.  It was found that the removal of the water by the pet is a key weak function for removing the bacteria.  The main thing that is wrong with this useful function is that the amount of water removed is not the full amount in the bowl.  This is the deeper problem that, if resolved, allows the system to become simpler and removes one of the primary constraints on the target market which is the harm that the bacteria does to the pet.  If the water were removed more completely, then the bacterial problem would mostly go away.  The volume of the water controls the length of time that the bacteria are allowed to feed on the food and the water.  We can imagine that if the volume were buckets worth that the bacteria might never be removed.  The requirement then becomes to have only a small amount of water available.  Further, if the volume was the water consumed each time the pet took a drink, then the bacteria would be removed each time that the pet took a drink.  We also note that if the volume of water is smaller than the amount of food washed off of the muzzle is much smaller.  The net result is that the water available should be the same amount that the pet consumes.   Further analysis of the removal of the water showed that the shape allows the bacterial food to collect in corners.  From our analysis we see that all of these things are largely controlled by the volume of water and the shape of the pet bowl should be such that nothing can hide in corners.  There should be no corners in a pet bowl.  The pet should drink from a large “spoon”.  With all of these requirements satisfied, the water bowl becomes “self-cleaning” because the pet automatically removes any food and bacteria each time it drinks.  Thus we have a further requirement that the small amount of water be replenished after or during the time that the pet is consuming the water.

Method

Go to TRIZ Power Tools Resolving Problems and resolve the deeper issues related to the constraints and the reasons that the objects exist.

Explanation

Removing the Constraints
With the causal analysis in place, we note that there are numerous paths that we could take to remove the constraints.  Now we must form some rationale to determine which part of the business system will provide the greatest leverage at the lowest cost.  We have several choices that we might change, including the customer perception, the product itself, the manufacturing process, the business model, the platform, and the delivery channels.  Larry Keeley[18] has noted what he considers to be ten different types of innovations that dramatically increase a company’s ability to make money.  These are: business model, networks and alliances; enabling processes; core processes; product performance; product systems; services; channel; brand and customer experience.  Note that each of these innovations are related to different parts of the system that create and deliver the product to the customer, as well as the product itself.  Keeley argues that we need a variety of innovations to make a business work better.  Here we argue that we need to understand which of these systems constrain the customer from getting the job done.  This is where we need to innovate.

Removing Targeted Elements
If you have decided to determine why targeted elements exist, then you are now aware of the key functions that need to be considered.  You understand the deeper problems that were not resolved in the original designs and thus your opportunity to simplify is to correct these flawed decisions. We want to idealize functions in such a way that the base problem is completely resolved and we can remove the most elements from the system.

Most of the methods of this section are incorporated in resolving problems.  When we resolve problems according to the methods in Resolving problems, we do it in the most ideal fashion, in other words, we resolve the problem while eliminating elements.  Very often, we can remove groups of elements when these problems are resolved.

Example—Pet Food Container

Go to TRIZ Power Tools-- Resolving Problems and resolve the deeper issues related to the constraints and the reasons that the objects exist.While idealizing useful functions we note the following ideas:

Function not required:  containing the food is required to keep it from getting dirty or wet.  By changing the food slightly, the dog food requires no container because it does not come in independent pieces.  For instance, the food is linked together or comes as one piece.  Perhaps it just hangs on a roll.

52 Sausage Food

The food is positioned relative to the surrounding environment.  Can we adjust the surroundings to accept scattered food?  If the food is scattered nobody cares because it just blends in with the surrounding.

53 Distance Between Pieces

The ideal phenomenon:  The trend is to combine the food bowls with large storage containers and to keep the food at a level that is comfortable for the pet.

54 Continuous Dog Food

From list of resources:  The water stops the crawling insects.

55 Water Stops Insects

While idealizing informing functions we note the following ideas:  From stealing measurement or detection:  the pet feeding system must detect the level of the water and automatically adjust it so that the user does not need to perform this function.

When we determined why burdensome functions existed, we realized that the reason that the harmful bacteria existed was because of the amount of water and food that is left behind in the water.  The food and water nourish the bacteria.  Ideally, the amount of food left behind should be zero.  If the pet drinks all of the water available and there is no food left behind then any bacteria left grows very slowly.  While mobilizing unused resources, we determined that if the water bowl is spoon shaped and just big enough for the animal to lick all of the water out that it will be self-cleaning and will leave no food and little bacteria behind.  This all came from going through the process of understanding the parameters for bacteria growth.  As it turned out, there was no real contradiction to resolve.  We discovered that the missing resource that people have forgotten about is the shape and size of the watering bowl.  When these were adjusted properly, the problem goes away.

Simplify by Idealizing Individual Functions

Method

Step 1:  Go to the book TRIZ Power Tools Idealizing Useful Functions and attempt to idealize useful functions in the function diagram.

Step 2:  Go to the book TRIZ Power Tools Idealizing informing Functions and attempt to idealize informing functions in the function diagram.

Step 3:  Go to the book TRIZ Power Tools Idealizing harmful Functions and attempt to idealize harmful functions in the function diagram.

Explanation

Even after removing the reasons for elements to exist, there is still the possibility that elements remain that could be removed or replaced still exists.  We will try to idealize burdensome functions that we have already identified.

Simplify by Eliminating Individual Elements

Method56 Idealize Individual Functions

Step 1:  Identify a burdensome element in the system.

Step 2:  Eliminate the element.

Step 3:  Press another object in the system or super-system (associated with the job or task or in the environment) to perform the functions of the removed object.

Step 4:  If the element cannot be eliminated, have it take on other system or super-system functions.

Step 5:  Consider having the product of the function act on itself by breaking the product into interacting parts that act on itself.

Step 6:  Recursively Remove Individual Elements.  Continue the process of looking for opportunities to simplify by removing individual elements and identifying other objects to perform their function.  Move on to the next step when you feel that you have done all that you can.

Explanation

This method comes by invoking STANDARD 5-1-2 l[19]  which self imposes the necessity to simplify a system or to not introduce a substance in the first place. Here, we consider eliminating all burdensome elements, but there is one particular case that should be emphasized.  Recall that when we identified burdensome functions and elements, one of the considerations was low value elements.  Low value elements are typically those that only (1) perform one function, (2) do not operate directly on the system product and (3) cost a lot.   We would like to directly eliminate low value elements if possible.  If we cannot replace them, then we may consider having the low value element take on more functions.

Example—Cutting Tape

Recall that we used this example to show how to identify low value objects.  While we could have chosen any example of a burdensome system, this example illustrates how to identify and remove low value elements.

Step 1:  Identify a burdensome element in the system.

We have already identified that the base delivers the lowest value in the system.

57 Tape Diagram

Step 2:  Eliminate the element.

The base is eliminated.  We show this as a spindle and blade unsupported in space.  The other functions are intentionally left to underscore that the functions are still required.  We can remove the objects, but there is still a necessity to do what they were originally intended to do.

58 Remove the Base

Step 3:  Press another object in the system or super-system (associated with the job or task or in the environment) to perform the functions of the removed object.

Note that in this case, the base performed several functions.  There is still the possibility of using the table or other objects that are normally associated with the job.

For instance, we could consider the object being taped.  In this case, we will allow the spindle to support the blade.  The person will support the spindle.

59 Person Supports the Spindle

Note that not all of the bugs are worked out in this tape dispensing system.  There is the potential for the blade to swing around.  Support for the tape may not be sufficient, etc.  When we go to the “Fixing” stage of problem solving, we will try to work out these bugs.

Step 4:  If the element cannot be eliminated, have it take on other system or super-system functions.

Step 5:  Consider having the product of the function act on itself by breaking the product into interacting parts that act on itself.

Step 6:  Recursively Remove Individual Elements.  Continue the process of looking for opportunities to simplify by removing individual elements and identifying other objects to perform their function.  Move on to the next step when you feel that you have done all that you can.

Simplify by Consolidating System Elemnts

By this point, all remaining functions and elements are considered essential.  We can further simplify the system by consolidating elements.  When we consolidate elements, we merge them together.  This is not as simple as combining elements. Ideally, consolidation should create unexpected benefits or synergies.  For instance, the user may be able to expand the same function to other elements not yet considered. Consolidation is a natural step in the evolution of systems. Following is the evolutionary path for consolidation:

62 Evolution of consolidation

Knife Example
We start with a single knife (mono).  Then we use two knives to hold the object in place and get the benefit of two knives (bi-system).  Next we designed the knives to interact with each other (interacting) or scissors so that we have benefit of two knives that can be operated with one hand. This is an unexpected benefit.  Also, the scissors can be used on a variety of objects that the knives would have difficulty with such as cutting fabric.  It is not clear how to consolidate the blades.

63 Consolidation of knives

Example—Machine Gun
We start with a single-shot rifle (mono).  We might want several single-shot rifles ready just in case we need them (multiply same).  Then, we could combine several barrels into one gun (combined).  Finally, we can have a simpler, lighter gun with one barrel which automatically reloads from a clip of ammunition (consolidated).

64 Consolidation to Machine guns

 Example—Pump Gun
We start with a single-shot shot gun (Mono).  Again we may want to have other single-shot shot guns available (multiply same).  Next we see a double-barreled gun (combined).  Finally we have a gun which holds several shells which ejected and reloaded with the pump action (consolidated).

65 Consolidation of Pump Guns

Example—Biased Hammer
We start with a group of hammers, one with a large head and one with a small head, for different situations (group biased).  We could combine the hammers to have both size heads (combined).  How they can be further consolidated is not yet apparent.

66Consolidated Hammers

Example—Hammer-Axe
Similar to the above example, we start with a hammer and an axe (group different) then combine them into one hammer-axe (combined).  Can they be consolidated even further to be right for any situation without any drawbacks?

67 Consolidated Hatchet

Example—Hammer and Claw (Combining Anti Functions)
In this special case, we start with a hammer and a separate nail puller.  These have opposite functions. (combine opposite)  Then we combine then into one tool (combined).  Can they be consolidated even further?

68 Consolidated Hammer and Claw

Method

Step 1:  Identify elements that you would like to use, but are too expensive.

Step 2:  Have these expensive elements take over the function of something else, even if it only serves as a structural element.

Explanation

If elements are costly, and there seems no way around this, then look for ways to increase the number of functions performed by the costly element.  This can decrease the overall cost. 

Example—Optical Cover for Telescope[36]

Step 1:  Identify elements that you would like to use, but are too expensive.

An example of this is a telescope for class rooms.  The mirror needs to be protected from dust.  Normal glass will create too much optical distortion.  Optical grade glass, carefully ground, can form a cover, but it is too expensive.

69 Telescope Spider

Below is the function diagram.  More elements are shown in the diagram than the picture.  Note the number of functions performed by each element.

70 Telescope Cover

Step 2:  Have these expensive elements take over the function of something else, even if it only serves as a structural element.

If the optical cover takes over the function of supporting the mirror (currently performed by the Spider).  Now with two functions, the change effectively increases the telescope’s value to the owner and reduces the overall cost of the telescope.

71 Cover Supports Mirror

Method72 Parasite Tool

Step 1:  Chose a low-value object.

Step 2:  List objects in the environment with similarities to the chosen object.

Step 3: Pick a part of the main object (preferably one of the more important ones) and eliminate it.

Step 4:  One of the similar objects takes over this function.

Step 5: Look for unexpected capabilities.

Explanation

Advanced Systematic Inventive Thinking, or ASIT[37], is a creative thinking method derived from TRIZ.  “The Parasite Product” is one of the 6 “thinking tools” for developing new products.  The idea is to remove as much of an object as possible and then replace the removed part with something from the environment.

Example—Simplifying Eating Utensils for Backpackers

Step 1:  Chose a low-value object.

In this case, we start with a common fork.73 Fork

Step 2:  List objects in the environment with similarities to the chosen object.

A spoon is chosen.  This is both functionally similar and has parts which are also the same, such as the handle.74 Spoon

Step 3: Pick a part of the main object (preferably one of the more important ones) and eliminate it.

Here we eliminate the handle.75 Eliminate Fork Handle

Step 4:  One of the similar objects takes over this function.

We pick a part of the main object to eliminate, in this case the handle. We combine the spoon with the leftover part of the fork, giving us a spoon with a fork parasite.76 Spork

Step 5: Look for unexpected capabilities.

Aside from the lower weight and versatility, this utensil is very useful when eating certain types of foods that require both a fork and a spoon such as stews, which contain large pieces of meat.

Method77 Different Functions on Same Product

Step 1:  Identify tools that perform different functions on the same product.

Step 2:  Consolidate these tools or make them interact.

Step 3:  Look for unexpected capabilities:  None are observed.

Explanation

If two or more tools operate on the same product, there are often opportunities to merge these tools.  It is often the case that they have elements which are common to each other.

Example—A Rake and Hoe Combination

Step 1:  Identify tools that perform different functions on the same product.

A rake and a hoe both work on weeds in a garden, but they do different things, i.e. one cuts the weeds and the other collects them.

78 Hoe Rake

Step 2:  Consolidate these tools or make them interact.

By consolidating the tools, we have a rake that can also be used as a hoe.

79 Consolidated Rake and Hoe

Step 3:  Look for unexpected capabilities:  None are observed. 

Example—Consolidating Pneumatic Elements

A typical fluid handling system controls the pressure of a fluid by means of a pressure regulator and is capable of starting and stopping the flow with an On-Off Valve.  How can this system be simplified?

80 Separate Valves

Step 1:  Identify tools that perform different functions on the same product.

Drawing a functional diagram alerts us to the fact that both the on-off valve and the pressure regulator operate on the same product, the fluid. 

81 Function Diagram for Separate Valves

Step 2:  Consolidate these tools or make them interact.

We can improve the system by having one element that performs both functions.  This will become a Regulator/Shutoff valve with one modulating element acting on the fluid.

82 Consolidated Regulator

Step 3:  Look for unexpected capabilities.

The elements normally involved in the shutoff function may be used to control the flow of the fluid at very low flows.

Method83 Contiguous Functions

Step 1:  Identify Contiguous Functions (one follows the other in time).

Step 2:  Consider ways to combine and consolidate the elements.

Step 3:  Look for unexpected capabilities.

Explanation

Contiguous operations are those that follow each other in sequence or time.  When you see such a sequence of functions, there is often an opportunity to combine elements and greatly simplify the system.

Example—Drill & Anchor Bolt Combination

Step 1:  Identify Contiguous Functions (one follows the other in time).

Normally, to hang a heavy picture or mirror on a wall, you first drill a hole in the drywall and then you pound in an anchor before you can finally insert a nail or screw to hold the picture.  Penetrating and holding represent contiguous functions.

84 Drill Plus Anchor

Step 2:  Consider ways to combine and consolidate the elements.

The drill and the anchor are to be combined.  The new product drills the hole as it is screwed into the wall.  The thread, which follows, goes nicely into the drilled hole.

85 Consolidated Drill Anchor

Step 3:  Look for unexpected capabilities.

The torque from the screwdriver is sufficient to drill the hole.  No power tools are required.

Method86 Similar Structure

Step 1:  Identify an element, preferably a low value element.

Step 2:  Identify a second element with similar structure.  (Same power source, transmission and control.

Step 3:  Identify the minimum working element which combines both elements. This can often be accomplished by combining or causing the elements to interact while consolidating the power source, transmission or control.

Step 4:  Look for unexpected capabilities.

Explanation

The energy source, transmission or controls of a system can often be consolidated. While neither performs the exact same function, they both share common elements that could be consolidated into one.

Example—Pick & Hammer Combination

Step 1:  Identify an element, preferably a low value element.

88 HammerConsider the case of working in a blacksmith’s environment with a variety of tools.  We start with a simple hammer.

Step 2:  Identify a second element with similar structure.  (Same power source, transmission and control.

89 PickWe know that there is another tool with similar structure and is used in basically the same way, a pick (same power source, transmission and control).

Step 3:  Identify the minimum working element which combines both elements. This can often be accomplished by combining or causing the elements to interact while consolidating the power source, transmission or control.

90 Pick HammerThere is a common element to both the pick and the hammer, the handle. The hammer and pick are combined into a hammer-pick.

Step 4:  Look for unexpected capabilities.

None are observed.

Method91 Biased Tools

Step one: identify tools in the system that operate on products slightly different from each other (biased).  Or, identify the need for one tool to operate on slightly different products.

Step 2:  Merge the two systems or cause them to interact.  If there is a common element, use only one of these elements.

Explanation

Biased objects are objects that are substantially the same but have one main difference.  A bag of marbles will have marbles of different colors.   A library will hold books made of different materials.  There is often the need to operate on all elements in the system, or to extend the functional range of a tool.

Example—Big Hammer & Small Hammer Combination

Step 1: identify tools in the system that operate on products slightly different from each other (biased).  Or, identify the need for one tool to operate on slightly different products.

You might own a few different hammers.  They are essentially the same, but have one main difference. One is smaller than the other.  The size difference is mostly to aid in seeing the nail.  (Having a hammer with lower weight does not aid that much as the operator tends to strike less vigorously).  Both tools do the same thing and operate on the same type of product, but there is a difference between the products:  one is smaller than the other.  We say that the products are biased.

92 Small and Large Hammer

Step 2:  Merge the two systems or cause them to interact.  If there is a common element, use only one of these elements.

A consolidated hammer provides the same function on small and large nails.  The head of the hammer is still able to operate on different products.

93 Small and Large Hammer Combined

Method94 Merge Anti Functions

Step 1:  Identify a tool within the system.

Step 2:  Identify the anti-function of the tool.

Step 3:  Identify objects within the system which are already used to perform the anti-function.

Explanation

Evolution of systems dictates that functions will eventually be combined with the anti-function.  The tool which performs the anti-function of your tool may already exist in the super-system.

Example—Combining a Hammer & a Crowbar

While this may be a problem of the past, it still helps to convey a familiar message.  We will consider tools related to the job of carpentry.

Step 1:  Identify a tool within the system.95 Hammer

We identify a hammer for driving nails.

Step 2:  Identify the anti-function of the tool.96 Crowbar

Since the tool is used to drive nails into wood, the anti-function would be to extract nails from the wood.

Step 3:  Identify objects within the system which are already used to perform the anti-function.

The crowbar is used to extract nails, especially nails that didn’t go in straight or were bent.

Step 4:  Merge the anti-tool with the tool. Consolidate elements as much as possible.

The crowbar is merged with the hammer to create the familiar claw hammer.97 Hammer and Claw

Step 5:  Look for unexpected capabilities:  The hammer can get into restricted locations.

Method98 Closely Associated

Step 1:  Identify objects that are in close proximity.

Step 2:  Consolidate these elements so that they are easily used together.

Explanation

Elements which are used in close proximity with each other may be natural elements to combine together.  Be careful that something new arises.  It is not sufficient that two objects simply share the same structure.  New capabilities should emerge.

Example—Vegetable Peeler

Step 1:  Identify objects that are in close proximity.

Knives and zesters are close in proximity.

Step 2:  Consolidate these elements so that they are easily used together.99Vegetable Peeler

The knife is incorporated into the blade as well as the zester.  While the use of these functions may be contiguous on certain vegetables, such as potatoes, it may not be on others.  This tool could be used to create unusual platter decorations.

Example—Multifunctional Camera

Step 1:  Identify objects that are in close proximity.

Digital movies, binoculars, GPS, magnifying glass and internet are in close proximity.

Step 2:  Consolidate these elements so that they are easily used together.

The above objects are combined in such a way that digital movies can be shot, edited and played.  The quality of viewing is sufficient to watch commercial movies.  The camera is also capable of extremely close-up shots that effectively make it a magnifying glass.  The internet capability makes it possible to download movies from the internet. The GPS makes it possible to do geo-caching or other outdoor navigational activities while taking pictures or movies.

Method

Continue the process of looking for opportunities to simplify by consolidating elements.  In this step, we return to the beginning of the consolidation step and start over with the new baseline system.   We consolidate as much as possible before moving on.

Simplify by Reducing Space Burdens

Now we are down to the more practical elements of simplifying.  A lot of this is simple things that the brain can do almost unaided.  However, some are more complex and we need the reminder anyway.

Method100 Permutations

Step 1:  Draw the idea in your journal just as you see it in your mind.

Step 2: Draw it over and over, improving it each time in some small way.

Step 3: Determine whether parts MUST come in a certain order.  For instance, must one part be inside of another, or can the order be changed?

Step 4: If the order can be changed, draw the idea in different orientations.  Do this over and over until it is as good as you can imagine it.

Explanation

Entire books have been written on the subject of recursively drawing ideas in order to “evolve” them.   Psychological inertia dictates that your idea can only be drawn as you see it in your mind. Up to this point, you have seen your idea in only a few ways.   In this step, we will consider drawing the idea in a variety of ways over and over until it is a good as we can imagine it.

Method101 Folding

Step 1: Consider how elements may be temporarily folded up.

Step 2: Consider how elements may be permanently folded into themselves.

Step 3: Does the article normally interact with other objects? Consider different orientations of  other elements which allow them to be folded into one another?

Step 4: Use unoccupied space.  Identify the boundaries of the object as it currently exists.  Look for volumes of unoccupied space.  What elements can be moved within this space?  Look for volumes of occupied space that perform little function.  What elements can be moved within this space?

Step 5:  Change the orientation of objects.  If objects were oriented differently in 3-dimensional space, could it be made more compact?  Consider each element and try different orientations. 

Step 6:  Use space saving structures such as tubes, filaments, fabrics, expanding materials and nested objects.

Step 7:  Miniaturize.  What components do we already know how to miniaturize?

Step 8:  Change the order of things.  Put outside things inside.  The horse becomes the engine.  The lock is in the door.  The speaker is in the computer.

Step 9:  Use mass conserving structures such as cantilevers and cables.

Explanation

By removing elements, we have already taken a big step towards reducing the required space.  Here we will complete the space reduction by looking at the architecture and find ways to reduce the space needs.

--One of the greatest disadvantages that  many concepts have is a large envelope or volume.  This can create problems in a variety of ways. 

--Is there a requirement that the article be transported during or after manufacture?  Must the user of the article move it about during normal use?  Will its size be a hindrance in transportation?

--Is there a requirement to store the article because it has intermittent use?  Does it take up excessive storage space?

--Is the article excessively large, making it awkward during use?

Method102 Recursively Draw

Recursively sketch the part of the system that you are working on, each time making small improvemens.

Explanation

We have done just about everything that we know how to do to simplify the system by removing, replacing and consolidating elements.  During this step, the mind is capable of rapid simplification by simply drawing the system over and over again, each time making it a little more ideal.  One of the things that will be obvious to the mind during this step is space saving features that can be added.

If the TRIZ methodology has been followed, it is likely that several concepts will  have been generated.  Each of these ideas can be further refined by making a succession of drawings in your invention journal.  Drawing successive drawings in which small improvements are made to conserve space, weight and cost will help to refine the idea to the point that you can build a more complete prototype.  During this refinement, we can consider different configurations and orientations of elements.  We can also consider the partial or complete consolidation of similar and dissimilar elements.   Folding elements into themselves and other elements can further refine the product to decrease its size.

This step is also performed under simplifying the system, but it is highly useful here.  This step is especially important if you have just determined a group of objects which will perform the required functions.  These objects will be in an imperfect form and will require much simplification.  During this step, the mind is capable of rapid simplification by simply drawing the system over and over again, each time making it a little more ideal.  One of the things that will be obvious to the mind during this step is space saving features that can be added.   Also consider ways that objects can take on functions, thus removing the need for the other object.

Simplify by Eliminating Substances

Now that we have considered tools which have the potential of eliminating groups of elements, we will consider tools that help us to reduce the number of individual elements.  We do this by forcing elements and substances in our system to take on additional functions after first eliminating the element that performed that function.  We also consider the possibility of exchanging elements for other elements that are less expensive such as voids and resource substances in the job environment or the system.  We will also consider field resources in the system or environment.

Method

Step 1:  If a substance or object is to be introduced or removed from a system, consider the use of a substance instead.  Such a void can be

Loose Substances-->Liquids--> Foam-->Gas-->Empty Space

Step 2: Consider using inflatable structures.

Explanation

This method comes by invoking STANDARDS 5-1-1-1 and 5-1-4 d[20] [21]which self imposes the necessity to simplify a system or to not introduce a substance in the first place.  Again, here is a way that a substance can exist and not exist.  The function of the object is taken over by a void, thus simplifying the system.  Of course, these voids must be formed and shaped to provide the required functions.

Method

If a substance or object is to be introduced or removed from a system, consider the use of a field (from above) instead of the substance or object. 

61 Table of Fields

Explanation

This method comes by invoking STANDARDS 5-1-1-2d[22]which self imposes the necessity to simplify a system or to not introduce a substance in the first place.  Using a field instead of a substance allows us to remove substances from the system.  Ultimately, the field must be provided by another element in the system or environment.  Thus, this is another way to replace one element with another, whether it is in the system or the environment.

Method

Step 1:  Identify fields already used in the system from the table of fields.

Step 2:  If possible replace the given field with one of the, fields already in the system.  Ideally, the field should be more controllable (ones lower in the table of fields)

61 Table of Fields

Explanation

This method comes by invoking STANDARDS 5-2-1m[23]which self imposes the necessity to simplify a system or to not introduce a substance in the first place.

Method

Step 1:  Identify fields already used in the job environment, from the table of fields.

Step 2:  If possible replace the given field with one of the, fields in the job environment.  Ideally, the field should be more controllable (ones lower in the table of fields)

61 Table of Fields

Explanation

This method comes by invoking STANDARDS 5-2-2 t[24]which self imposes the necessity to simplify a system or to not introduce a substance in the first place.

Method

Step 1:  Identify substances in the system. 

Step 2:  What fields react strongly to these substances?

Step 2:  If possible replace the given field with a field which strongly reacts to a substance in the system.

61 Table of Fields

Explanation

This method comes by invoking STANDARDS 5-2-3 s[25]which self imposes the necessity to simplify a system or to not introduce a substance in the first place.

Method

Step 1:  If a substance or object is to be introduced or removed from a system, consider the use of a substance which is in the native environment or from the other objects required for the job.

Step 2:  Consider using substances which are derived from objects or substances in the external environment or the job.

Step 3:  Consider decomposing substances in the environment of the job.

Explanation

This method comes by invoking STANDARDS 5-1-1-3 and 5-1-1-9 e[26] [27] which self imposes the necessity to simplify a system or to not introduce a substance in the first place.

This is very similar to replacement of a substance with a field.  The new substance from the environment will also use fields to perform the function, however, these substances may be better paired with existing fields in the system.

Method

Step 1:  Identify a burdensome element in the system.

Step 2:  Make a list of free, inexpensive or waste elements.

Step 3:  Ask whether the substance can be replaced by inexpensive or free materials from the environment.  Consider phase transformations found in Separation in Time.  Consider ways to decompose substances in the environment.

Step 4:  Remove elements by combining them with other inexpensive, cheap or waste elements in the native environment.

Step 5:  Remove elements by changing their phase.

Step 6:  Remove elements by decomposition.

Explanation

This method comes by invoking STANDARDS 5-1-1-6   5-1-1-8 and 5-1-3 y[28] [29] [30] which self imposes the necessity to simplify a system or to not introduce a substance in the first place.

If previous steps have caused us to consider introducing substances or elements into the system to perform additional functions, then we realize that this is not ideal.  We need the function of the object or substance but not the material itself.  One way around this is to resolve the contradiction in time and consider the temporary introduction of substances and objects.  Sometimes these substances can be produced out of inexpensive materials, or even better, from free materials in the native environment.

Method

Step 1:  Identify a burdensome element in the system.

Step 2:  Ask whether the substance or object can be replaced by a disposable object.  Ensure that the object that is to be disposed of is very inexpensive and has no or minimal environmental impact.  Also ensure that it has desirable properties to the system.  Consider ways to decompose, dissolve or evaporate the unneeded substance.

Step 3:  If it is not possible to dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way, then consider ways to guarantee that the disposed object cannot be separated from the rest of the system.  (For example, caps that remain attached to bottles or pop can lids that remain with the can)  This is an example of being disposed of and not disposed of.

Explanation 

This method comes by invoking Inventive Principles 27 and 34. e[31] [32]This is a special case of temporary introduction of objects or substances.  For this case, the object may be present in the system for long periods of time and then removed only at the last moment.

When simplifying, it is common to desire an object to exist and not exist.   We want the substance to exist during certain conditions and not during other conditions.  This suggests a separation in time.  The object exists at one point in time, but not another. When a substance or object must and must not exist, then we may consider ways to dispose of the objects that will be sustainable and environmentally friendly.  This is a method of separation in time.  The disposable object should have other properties which are valuable to the system

Method

Step 1:  If a substance or object is to be introduced or removed from a system, consider the use of a very active additive used in very small amounts.

Step 2:  Consider concentrating the additive in one part of the system.

Explanation 

This method comes by invoking STANDARDS 5-1-1-4 and 5-1-1-5 e[33] [34]which self imposes the necessity to simplify a system or to not introduce a substance in the first place.

Using active additives is not as ideal as removing elements altogether, but it is definitely more ideal than using whole elements and large amounts of substance.

Method

Step 1:  What are the essential characteristics of the object that is being considered for introduction or replacement?

Step 2:  What would a copy look like that has only these essential characteristics.  Such copies can be photographs, impressions, facsimiles, shadows, movies, etc.

Explanation

This method comes by invoking STANDARDS 5-1-1-7y[35]which self imposes the necessity to simplify a system or to not introduce a substance in the first place.

A copy only requires the essential characteristics of the system element.  For instance, if we are trying to measure the diameter of a functional object, then the only attribute that we are interested in is the outside dimensional characteristics.  We don’t need the whole object, but only a copy of that part of the object that we are interested in.

We may not require the whole pilot to perform vital functions on an aircraft.  In fact, the pilot may be incapable of very rapid adjustments to control surfaces.  We only need certain characteristics of the pilot.  Thus, we can us a copy.

Simplify the Manufacturing

Now we are down to the more practical elements of simplifying.  A lot of this is simple things that the brain can do almost unaided.  However, some are more complex and we need the reminder anyway.

Method

 Look for ways to consolidate all of the machining into one part.

Explanation

Reducing the number of elements that need to be machined or have other manufacturing processes applied will greatly simplify the design of a product.  The cost reductions are very high due to the reduced machining setups on today’s multiple axis machines.

Method

Step 1:  Verify that the performance of the system has overshot the required performance for the given market and the industry is competing on cost, convenience and delivery

Step 2:  Verify that industry standards are simple enough that they can be reduced to rules-of-thumb.  This means that the potential interfaces between elements can be specified and that the performance of any element is not dependent on special characteristics of other elements.  All that is important is that the interfaces are correct.

Step 3:  Verify that the degraded performance of the modularized elements will still be acceptable to the chosen market.

Step 4:  Break systems down into components that can be used across a variety of product lines.[39]It is not necessary that all components of a system are modular, however, high-volume components are good targets for modularization.

Step 5:  Carefully define the interfaces between components in such a way that the modules can be interchanged between a variety of products and flexibility and adaptability can satisfy a variety of customer needs.  Freeze the interfaces from further change.[40]

Explanation

The final approach to simplifying the system is to modularize elements according to the Value Chain Evolution Theory[38].  This theory states that when system performance or reliability is not good enough to satisfy the demanding needs of a market, the architecture of these systems tends to be, or remains, integrated.  (i.e., not modular).  In order to improve systems performance or reliability, integrated systems require detailed coordination between different companies.  Such coordination is difficult or impossible with modular systems.  Improvements or changes in one location of the system influence other parts of the system.  The whole must be “tuned” together.

As time goes on, the performance or reliability overshoots the needs of the market.  Now the industry competes on cost, convenience or delivery.  In order to produce at ever decreasing costs and to develop products faster, internal standards become industry standards and rules of thumb.  When this occurs, products can be broken into modular elements which can be brought to market more rapidly.  In order for a part of a product to be modularized, it must be clear which attributes of the interface are important.  It is also necessary that these interface attributes can be specified and easily verified.  Finally, it is necessary that the effects of changing an attribute are predictable.  Generally, the performance of a component must be degraded somewhat in order to become a module.  (Many of the attributes can only be modified in increments, rather than continuously).  Because the products have not overshot market demands, this degraded performance exhibited by modularized products is acceptable, especially in exchange for higher speed-to-market or convenience.  If the performance is not good enough, most of the market will not accept this degraded performance. 

Sub-systems or systems whose performance is still “not good enough” remain integrated and surrounded by modular components.  These integrated systems continue to demand high margins because their performance is limited and still improving.  Most companies which create modules do not have the resources to tackle the problems of integrated architectures.

Products using modular architectures can be produced at a lower cost than those produced using integrated architectures.  This outcome results in spite of more parts and the need for more interface components.  Lower total cost results from sourcing individual modules from one of several highly priced-competitive companies. Businesses which create such modules typically operate with low margins due to intense competition.  The performance of your module is good enough and you compete on price and convenience.  As a side note, some companies are capable of making several modules and can remove the expensive interfaces between the parts, further reducing costs.

103 Golden Ruld VCESeveral conditions must be present to consider modularization.  First, the system must have overshot the expectations of the market in terms of performance and reliability.  The system will degrade in performance slightly as a result of modularization.  Components will not be exactly matched to each other, so it is necessary that you have enough of a performance margin to absorb this impact. If modules negatively affect customer perception of the product, you may want to avoid them. Next, exchanges across system interfaces must be well understood.  Rules of thumb must apply well.  It should not be necessary to perform complicated analysis in order to determine the interactions.  Note that integrated systems are always surrounded by modular systems.  The integrated system is necessary because the performance or reliability of that system is not yet good enough to modularize.  As an example of modularization, programmers will often turn large complicated programs into small modules.  This helps them to reuse code and avoid re-inventing.  However, the new concern becomes the interactions or interfaces.

Recursively Simplify

Method104 Recursively Simplify

Verify that the performance of the system has overshot the required performance for the given market and the industry is competing on cost, convenience and delivery

Explanation

Once we have simplified the super-system, we move to our system and then to components of the system.  There are many opportunities to simplify.  Go back to the first step of the simplifying algorithm and create a function diagram for the new system.  Do it all again until you are satisfied that you have done what you can.

Understand that you may generate greater problems by simplifying the system.  That is OK.  These problems are handled in TRIZ Power Tools-- Resolving Problems.

References

[1]  Suh Nam Pyo of MIT, The Principles of Design, Oxford University Press, 1990,

[2] Genrich Altshuller, The Innovation Algorithm, Technical Innovation Center, Page 127

[3] Genrich Altshuller, The Innovation Algorithm, Technical Innovation Center, Page 128

[4] ARIZ refers to the Algorithm for the Solution of Inventive Problems.  Altshuller and his associates created different versions through the years.  The most recent being ARIZ-85c.  85 refers to the year it was formalized and c refers to the revision.  ARIZ is a structured way to expose and resolve conflicts in systems and to apply the basic tools of TRIZ to solve problems.

[5] Genrich Altshuller, The Innovation Algorithm, Technical Innovation Center, page 129

[6] See the Wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Value_engineering, .as well as the Lawrence D. Miles Value Engineering Reference Center at http://wendt.library.wisc.edu/miles/index.html.

[7] Function Modeling was first Introduced by Lawrence Miles, Jerry Leftow, and Harry Erlicher, all of General Electric during World War II in an attempt to make better use of scarce resources.  Function modeling is a technique used within the broader context of Value Engineering.  The idea of function analysis was to identify the functions that objects perform and then identify alternative means of delivering the same function.  For deeper research into this topic, visit online: The Lawrence D. Miles Value Engineering Reference Center Collection University of Wisconsin in Madison, which contains original manuscripts and works of Lawrence Miles.

[8] Function Modeling was first Introduced by Lawrence Miles, Jerry Leftow, and Harry Erlicher, all of General Electric during World War II in an attempt to make better use of scarce resources.  Function modeling is a technique used within the broader context of Value Engineering.  The idea of function analysis was to identify the functions that objects perform and then identify alternative means of delivering the same function.  For deeper research into this topic, visit online: The Lawrence D. Miles Value Engineering Reference Center Collection University of Wisconsin in Madison, which contains original manuscripts and works of Lawrence Miles.

[9] Tool Kit by Lance A. Bettencourt and Anthony Ulwick

[10] Inventive Principle #6—Universality:  an object can perform several different functions ; therefore, other elements can be removed.  Genrich Altshuller, The Innovation Algorithm page 287.

[11] ASIT stands for Advanced Systematic Inventive Thinking and is a methodology created by Roni Horowitz.  It is primarily used to create new products which can easily be discriminated in the market place.

[12] Inventive Principle #6—Universality:  an object can perform several different functions ; therefore, other elements can be removed.  Genrich Altshuller, The Innovation Algorithm page 287.

[13] Inventive Principle #6—Universality:  an object can perform several different functions ; therefore, other elements can be removed.  Genrich Altshuller, The Innovation Algorithm page 287.

[14] Inventive Principle #6—Universality:  an object can perform several different functions ; therefore, other elements can be removed.  Genrich Altshuller, The Innovation Algorithm page 287.

[15] Inventive Principle #6—Universality:  an object can perform several different functions ; therefore, other elements can be removed.  Genrich Altshuller, The Innovation Algorithm page 287.

[16] Inventive Principle #25—Self-service:  An object must service itself and carry-out supplementary and repair operations. Make use of waste material and energy. Genrich Altshuller, The Innovation Algorithm page 288.

[17] Inventive Principle #6—Universality:  an object can perform several different functions ; therefore, other elements can be removed.  Genrich Altshuller, The Innovation Algorithm page 287.

[18] Larry Keeley—The Ten Types of Innovation

[19] STANDARD 5-1-2: If a system is not easy to change as required, and the conditions do not allow to replace the component acting as an instrument (tool) or introduce additives, the artifact (product) has to be used instead of the instrument (tool), dividing the artifact (product) into parts interacting with each other.

[20]  STANDARD 5-1-1-1 if it is necessary to introduce a substance in the system and it is not allowed, a “void” can be used instead of the substance.  Notes:  A “void” is usually gaseous substance, like air, or empty space formed in a solid object.  In some cases a “void” may be formed by other substances, such as liquids (foam) or loose bodies.

[21] STANDARD 5-1-4 if it is necessary to introduce a large quantity of a substance, but this is not allowed, a “void” in the form of inflatable structures or foam should be used as the substance.  Note: Introduction of foam or inflatable structures resolves a contradiction “much substance- little substance’.

[22]  STANDARDS 5-1-1-2: If it is necessary to introduce a substance in the system, and it is not allowed, a field can be introduced instead of the substance.

[23] STANDARD 5-2-1: If a field has to be introduced in a SFM, one should use first of all the present fields for whom the media are those substances that form the system or it part.  Note:  The use of substances and fields which already present in the system improves the system’s ideality: number of functions performed by the system increases without increasing the number of used components.

[24] STANDARD 5-2-1: If a field has to be introduced in a SFM and it is not possible to use the fields, which already present in the system, one should use the fields of the external environment. Note:  The use of external environment fields. (Gravitation, thermal field, pressure…) improves the system’s ideality: the number of functions performed by the system increases without increasing the number of used components.

[25] STANDARD 5-2-3: If a field has to be introduced in a SFM and it is not possible to use the fields, which already present in the system, or in the external environment, one should use the fields for whom the substances present in the system or external environment can act as media or sources. Notes:  In particular, if there are ferromagnetic substances in a system and they are used for mechanical purposes, it is possible to use their magnetic properties in order to obtain additional effects: improve interactions between components, obtain information on the state of the system, etc.

[26] STANDARD 5-1-1-3:  if it is necessary to introduce a substance in the system, and it is not allowed, an external additive can be used instead of an internal one.

[27] STANDARD 5-1-1-9:  If it is necessary to introduce a substance in the system, and it is not allowed, the substance can be produced by decomposing the external environment or the object itself, for instance, by electrolysis, or by changing the aggregate state of a part of the object or external environment.

[28] STANDARD 5-1-1-6; if it is necessary to introduce a substance in the system, and it is not allowed, the substance can be introduced temporarily and then removed.

[29] STANDARD 5-1-1-8: If it is necessary to introduce a substance in the system, and it is not allowed by the system’s operating conditions, the substance can be introduced in a form of a chemical compound which can be later decomposed.

[30] STANDARD 5-1-3: After the substance introduced in the system has fulfilled its function, it should either disappear or become indistinguishable from the substance that was in the system or in the external environment before.  Note:  the substance that has been introduced may disappear due to chemical reactions or change of phase.

[31] Inventive principle 27 Dispose:  Replace an expensive object with a cheap one, comprising other properties (i.e. longevity)

[32] Inventive principle #34:  Rejecting and regenerating parts: After completing its function or becoming useless, an element of an object is rejected (discarded, dissolved, evaporated, etc.) or modified during its work process. Used up parts should be restored during its work.

[33] STANDARD 5-1-1-4:  If it is necessary to introduce a substance in the system, and it is not allowed, a very active additive can be introduced in very small quantities. 

[34] STANDARD 5-1-1-5:  If it is necessary to introduce a substance in the system and it is not allowed, an additive can be introduced in very small quantities, and concentrated in certain parts of the object.

[35] STANDARD 5-1-1-7: If it is necessary to introduce a substance in the system, and it is not allowed, a copy of the object can be used instead of the object itself, where introduction of substances is allowed.

[36] D.D. Maksutov  The Innovation Algorithm by Genrich Altshuller, page 31

[37] Advanced Systematic Inventive Thinking.  The author is Roni Horowitz.  The main feature of this thinking is the creation of products with discriminating properties. Reference for ASIT information - http://www.triz-journal.com/archives/2001/09/b/index.htm

[38] Christensen, Clayton M. The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Press, 1997.

[39] Research and Technology Executive Council Modular Design Playbook

[40] Research and Technology Executive Council Modular Design Playbook

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