Dr. Kai Yang is a Professor in the department of Industrial and Manufacturing, Wayne State University. His areas of expertise include Six Sigma, statistical methods in quality and reliability engineering, Lean product development, Lean healthcare, and engineering design methodologies.
Joe Dager: I also noticed in your product development process that you spend quite a bit of time talking about TRIZ.
Kai Yang: Well, TRIZ basically is a way to try to improve the creativity of your product development process. Supposedly the TRIZ is you try to condense the inventive principle to a small number of principles. People learn; they can really improve their creativity by learning existing knowledge. Some of the companies are very, very successful at it, as far as I know. Samsung is now is a leading company in electronics. Even now, they still contract TRIZ experts in large numbers working for a couple of years in their headquarters to help them to improve product development. For Samsung, it’s definitely a useful tool. It’s increased their competitiveness. I think that now you hear about more Samsung than Sony Company. So I talk to their product development, some top people. They think that TRIZ really helped them a lot. However, now that every company has the same experience, some use TRIZ and don’t get out a lot. I think this is a tool we need to customize to your own practice. So, it can do wonders, it just needs to be applied correctly.
Joe Dager: I think you’re probably right there, because I always found TRIZ kind of cumbersome. Yet, I’m thinking what you’re saying is that you customize it, and maybe one company will only use a third of it, or half of it, or something like that.
Kai Yang: I’m thinking about a few things important in TRIZ. One is simplify customize. The other is you have to go with good information searching the IP. So, for example, when people apply TRIZ, one of the common problems they face is, ‘Well I can plug in what the contradiction is, what the problem is. I can find out what principle may be useful for me. But, still, this principle is a general principle. I’m still not able to figure out a particular solution for my design problem.’ So, that is one of the common things.
I found out if people are given relevant information about similar patents, how the people designing similar products resolve this type of problem, if they’re flooded with good examples. They are able to take it. I think that is also one of the reasons Samsung did well in using TRIZ. Only learning it does not make it work. You have to flood it with good information.
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