At the innovation leadership workshop I facilitated on July 5-6, we had a panel discussion on two creative problem solving methodologies – Design Thinking and TRIZ. For Design Thinking, we had Lakshman Pachineela Seshadri who is the Head of Innovation at SAP Global Delivery, Bangalore and also a visiting faculty at Hasso Plattner school of Design Thinking at Potsdam. On TRIZ we had Dr. Bala Ramadurai who is the co-founder of TRIZ Innovation India and an innovation consultant.
The questions that got discussed were as follows:
1. What is Design Thinking (DT)?
2. What is TRIZ?
3. Does TRIZ focus on problem solving or inventions?
4. Does Design Thinking give a view on how to identify a problem?
5. Does Design Thinking give any guidelines about what’s a good challenge?
6. Does TRIZ give a view on how to identify a problem?
7. How do we ensure that we are getting insights of relevance?
8. Is skill a pre-condition for Design Thinking?
Here are a couple of sample questions and partial answers. For more details, please see here.
Lakshman: DT says that don’t go by the stated requirements, go beneath them, go and understand why they want it and how they use it. Suppose you look at how kids use a toothbrush, you will realize that it is different from how adults use it. Kids hold the brush with palms instead of just the fingers like adults. Observations like these create insights. These insights then lead to solutions like cushy and firm handles for kids’ toothbrush.
DT approach is different from the traditional market research based approach which relies on analysis and number crunching (left brain stuff). DT uses market data to zero on a particular problem area and then we go into the why and how of it.
Bala: My tryst with TRIZ started 5 years ago when I was working as a research scientist at GE. We were working on an ultrasound project. We were using the technology from medicine and applying it to aerospace in predicting part-life. We achieved in a 2 day workshop what could have taken us several months.
We were using a linear plot of intensity. We applied a TRIZ principle which says that what is 1-D becomes 2-D. We asked, “Why can’t we have 2 dimensions to it?” That turned out to be a patentable idea. Sounds so lame, so easy. What does your intuition tell you about our next step? 3-D - bingo! We looked at the hot-spots 3 dimensionally. That was our second patent. It took us just a day rather than 6 to 8 months. TRIZ gives several such patterns like “1-D to 2-D” which are called inventive principles.