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1.11.2 The Ideal Solves the Problem

Aggiornamento: 11 dic 2021

Simple Steps to Fast Resourceful Systematic Problem Solving

The Ideal describes the perfect state, a perfect result; imagining the Ideal Outcome is a powerful tool for helping us understand the real problem and everything we want and are seeking when problem solving. The Ideal in TRIZ also points us in the right direction for finding all good solutions, breaking any psychological inertia (for ourselves and everyone else) which may fixate us on one poor solution and blocks mental access to the myriad of other possible solutions. Seeking descriptions of the Ideal is a stimulating first step (or one of the early stages) for problem solving. Attempting to define the Ideal stimulates ideas, helps everyone think clearly, move in the right direction and focus on the desired end point and outcomes. Whatever problem we are tackling if we begin by imagining the Ideal version of the thing we want (by simply affi xing ‘ Ideal ’ to its name) then we get quick understanding of the best possible outcomes. This applies to a whole range of problem challenges such as Ideal solution, Ideal client, Ideal customer, Ideal machine, Ideal process, Ideal attitude, Ideal price or Ideal outcome (or whatever is relevant to the situation we are working on) – asking everyone to focus on an extreme and perfect end point helps both problem understanding and problem solving. The Ideal as a Concept Has Four Major Roles in TRIZ Problem Solving

1. Finding solutions – using the TRIZ prompt ‘ the Ideal solves the problem by itself ’ .

2. Locating useful Resources – the Ideal helps us seek, identify, recognize and mobilize free and available resources.

3. Breaking Psychological inertia and subjugating constraints.

4. Understanding and accurately defining what we really want (the Ideality Audit).

The Ideal is a very simple but effective aid to clear thought and has many uses and descriptions in TRIZ technical problem solving: the terms Ideal Outcome, Ideal Final Result, Ideal Solution, Ideal System, Ideal Machine, Ideal Process, Ideal User Manual, Ideal Resource, Ideal Design, Ideal Substance and Ideal X Factor etc. all appear within the TRIZ literature. These terms often overlap but are not interchangeable as they cover the different levels in problem solving, from ultimate goals, to benefits, to functions, components and resources etc. As such they are not all the same, but by defining an ideal they are all simple pointers to help us define what we really want at each level and often suggest to us ways of how to get it. The Ideal Outcome gives us a quick understanding of everything we wantbenefits, without solutions. Moving to the definition of the Ideal Solution then delivers answers and ideas of how we obtain all those benefits.

The Ideal Outcome is the ultimate Ideality with all and only benefits delivered (with all benefits sufficient and only present when required) and in addition neey kind. Moving towards an Ideal Outcome with only benefi ts is a theoretical end point but very importantding no inputs (costs) and also without any outputs we don’t want or problems (harms) of an in TRIZ problem understanding and solving. Harms Functions (SUBJECT action OBJECT) I

Benefits are delivered by functions and the Ideal has only good functions, and all the functions we want. Functions are delivered by resources so by defi ning the Ideal we are focussing on the only functions we want and can thefore narrow down our resource hunt fairly quickly and effectively. Defining the Ideal is a very fast form of problem solving – it helps us recognize essential needs and helps us locate the functions and the resources to deliver them. By forcing ourselves to think of the extreme point of view of the ‘ Ideal ’ , we also break out of our psychological inertia, as we refuse to compromise or accept ‘ pragmatic’ solutions. This is particularly important in problems that we are very familiar with: when we can no longer see what we don’t see. Using the Ideal helps give us a new perspective on the problem and come at it with fresh eyes.

System We Want –the Acceptable Ideality

Much of normal, everyday problem solving involves getting the right functions (and getting the functions right) to deliver acceptable Ideality. We want to improve the ‘system we’ve got’ and transform it to the ‘system we want’ which delivers more benefits (but usually not all our needs), with acceptable costs (inputs) which we are prepared to invest into the system, and inevitably some harms (problems) which we are prepared to tolerate in this definition of acceptable as opposed to perfect. Problem solving with TRIZ helps teams aspire to reach and if possible get beyond this acceptable Ideality – for better or higher Ideality – which means aiming to achieve all the benefits we want and fewer costs and fewer harms. Taken to extremes the ultimate Ideality is the Ideal with only benefits with no costs and harms. This is the direction of all TRIZ problem - solving – towards this Ideal – a theoretical destination where the ultimate goal is achieved. This powerful and simple concept shows us the right direction our problem solving should take towards this final place. In this chapter we explore the clever TRIZ short-cut problem-solving routes achieved by defining the Ideal and then using this as our starting point to search for solutions as close to it as possible from available resources.

To many new TRIZ users the important central place given to the concept of the Ideal, can be puzzling. It is such a simple tool which takes a few moments to understand and yet it is so central to TRIZ problem solving and problem understanding. The Ideal is a great thinking tool, so fundamental to TRIZ, and yet so easy and powerful. This is because in the complicated and detailed routes to problem solutions the Ideal is like a lodestar or compass, and keeps us pointing in the right direction – never losing sight of the final destination. Altshuller who described it as the Ideal Imaginary Solution or Ideal Final Result (IFR) said, ‘ The IFR can be likened to a rope, which a mountain climber clutches to ascend a steep incline. The rope is not being pulled upwards, but it provides support and prevents sliding backwards. You only have to let go of the rope and you inevitably fall …’ CAAES p.97.

Ideal – Solves the Problem Itself

In TRIZ this is a very simple and powerful way to locate solutions by stating, ‘ The Ideal Solution solves the problem by itself ’ and look for ways of achieving it. This is particularly useful when there is no obvious system or answer and stretches our thinking. Starting with the imaginary Ideal Outcome and Solution, which first defines and suggests ways to deliver all the benefits we want, may sound wacky and off the wall to hard - nosed, practical engineers but it is the most effective and simple tool successfully used in TRIZ problem solving. Starting an engineering problem-solving session by asking everyone involved to defi ne their Ideal Outcome (all the benefits they want both big and small) and then brainstorming (either with or without TRIZ solution tools) for systems to deliver these, inevitably delivers fast, powerful results and high-octane thinking from everyone involved. The TRIZ trends tell us that all systems move towards self systems as they become more perfect and evolve – and if we look at our most necessary and simple historical inventions they often are some kind of ingenious Ideal self system.

Traffic Control Systems –Ideal Self systems

In the latter part of the nineteenth century technology advances were bringing big changes and as systems evolved and cars replaced horses, then road systems (super - system) had to adapt to harmonize with the new sub-systems (engines need fuel, tyres need tarmac etc.) and the environment had to adapt to the new cars, bicycles, fire engines etc. Traffic management was needed and everyone was looking for traffic control – preferably for automated self systems to cover all times and places. As cars, traffic and road systems developed it became obvious that accidents, particularly at crossroads, might occur and needed good solutions. One solution employed by dare-devil young male drivers (particularly pilots apparently) employed the strange logic that as unmarked cross roads were a danger, it was logical to spend as little time as possible passing through them, and they would race through them at top speed hoping that no other vehicles were also there. (This is applying both TRIZ Principles

21 Rushing Through and 13 Other Way Round – go faster not slower.

This is clearly not an Ideal Solution. A practical early solution was to put a policeman in the middle of the busier crossroads to direct the traffic, but this was not popular with either drivers or policemen and was an occasional but not a constant solution. Following the TRIZ Trend on Self Systems (less human involvement) the next step was to replace the policeman with a machine. This was invented by Garrett Morgan and patented in 1923, and like most first attempts to replace the human with a machine needlessly replicated human actions, as it had arms and signs saying stop and go. This had been preceded by two notable inventions still in use today. The first borrowed a system which already existed (for analogy ask, does this already exist – is it a life and death problem elsewhere) and the analogous system was the railway system which already had traffic lights and had already developed the red, amber and green system. This was first adapted to be used on London roads in 1868 with gas lamps. The second is the roundabout which first appeared in 1903 in the UK in Letchworth. Roundabouts are closer to self systems, and an interesting development was the eventual emergence of very big roundabouts and very small min -roundabouts. It is said that, once accepted and understood, the mini-roundabout has very high Ideality and is close to an Ideal Solution – nearly all the benefts of other traffi c control systems, very low costs of installation and maintenance, and vey few harms and problems – the traffic controls itself at a road interchange. Ideal Solutions are the basis for many self systems – such as self - repairing systems (surfaces, plastics and other materials, bolted joints, paint on cars, tyres, fuel tanks, etc.) and -closing drawers, -adjusting wings on aircraft, self-emptying containers, and a myriad of others. This is very simple and powerful route to moving from the small improvements of a faulty system to defining near ‘ perfect ’ solutions which stimulates clever engineering thoughts and ideas – and then moving back from the Ideal to practical reality. In problem-solving sessions it works almost every time and creates many clever directions for solutions to real and messy which problems.

Simple steps include:

■ Imagine an Ideal Outcome. (If we had a magic wand what benefi ts would our total solution deliver?)

■ Brainstorm Ideal Solutions which deliver all these benefits.

■ Step back from these ‘ Ideal wacky solutions ’ towards real ones.

This process can be helped by applying the simple TRIZ creativity triggers which help us use the Ideal to fi nd solutions. These include looking for existing life and death analogies (Is there another industry or area where solutions exist, particularly if they are life saving and deal with similar but critical situations?) and try Principle 13 – the Other Way Round to find good self systems/ solutions.


TRIZ for Engineers: Enabling Inventive Problem Solving, First Edition. Karen Gadd.

© 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Published 2011 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. ISBN: 978-0-470-74188-7

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