When to use it
Use it when you are seeking to solve inventive problems.
You can also use it as a general idea stimulus.
How to use it
Identify the main functions that your idea or invention is seeking to achieve. Primary Functions are those that deliver key value, whilst Secondary Functions support the primary functions.
Think about the solution only in terms of function. For example primary functions of a car include transportation, protection and status.
Understand ideality and harm
Harm, in TRIZ has a specific meaning. It means anything that that does not contribute towards achieving the primary function or anything that gets in the way. For a car, a body panel that does not contribute towards transportation, protection, status or other defined functions may be considered harmful. Removing harm is called trimming.
Ideality is the principle of starting from a perfect solution that fully delivers the function with zero harm. An ideal car thus may have zero mass, infinite power and be the most beautiful thing in the world. Of course, this is not possible, so the idea is to work back from this impossible ideal, as in Reverse Planning.
Find the contradictions
What often happens in inventive problems is that some parts of the solution deliver one function but also cause harm, act against another function.
For example in a car, power for acceleration is delivered by the engine. Yet the inertial of the moving weight of the engine reduces acceleration.
In TRIZ, there are 39 things which have been identified as being able contradict one another. These are listed in the TRIZ Contradictions list. From this, you need to identify two items. The first is the the one you are seeking to achieve. The second is the factor the one that you do not want.
Look up principle numbers in the matrix
The next step is to take the two factors identified in the two previous stage and use them to look up the most common principles that have been used by patentees to resolve this contradiction.
Because this is a 39 x 39 matrix, it has been reduced to three matrices:
- Contradiction Matrix 1: Undesired result 1 to 13
- Contradiction Matrix 2: Undesired result 14 to 26
- Contradiction Matrix 3: Undesired result 27 to 39
Thus, for example, if I want power from a car engine but do not want the effect of the moving weight of it, I will look up row 21 and column 1, as below.
This gives me the numbers of up to four principles which I can use.
Look up principles
Now you simply look up each of the principles in the list of TRIZ 40 Principles.
For example, principle 8 is:
When a system results in an undesirable force in one direction, a counterweight is a deliberate change to balance out or improve the situation by acting in the opposite direction. Traction control systems in vehicles can change the suspension system to shift the positioning of the body to balance out a tendency to roll.
Use resources to apply the principles
Now comes the hard part: use any or all of the principles to help overcome the contradiction you have identified.
The TRIZ notion of resources is that everything around the solution can be used to overcome contradictions. For a car, you can use the road, the air or other parts of the car.
The notion of a counterweight is already used in the car in the balancing of such as the engine crankshaft. Could you use this principle elsewhere, or even use it as simple inspiration? Can you further improve the balance of the engine so you need less metal? How about a flywheel that stores energy to give the car a boost when it accelerates?
Note that you do not have to stick to the suggested principles given. You can use any principles that might help you resolve the contradiction.
See above: an example about car speed is embedded in the instructions.
How it works
The TRIZ Contradiction Analysis method was defined by Genrich Altschuller, a Russian patent clerk who noticed that many patents were solving very similar problems. Over many years he analyzed over 200,000 patents where he noted that most inventions were about solving contradictions, and that most solutions could be classified into 40 categories.
TRIZ Contradiction Analysis thus finds principles used by patentees to solve similar problems to yours.
Note: TRIZ done fully includes many more considerations than are given here. See the references for further detail.