Genrikh Altshuller

Genrikh Altshuller was an engineer, inventor, scientist, journalist, and writer of science fiction and many books about inventing and innovation. He is best known as the creator of the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving known by its Russian acronym TRIZ (pronounced ‘trees’). He founded the Azerbaijan Public Institute for Inventive Creation, and was the first President of the TRIZ Association. His science fiction was written under the pseudonym of Genrikh Altov.

Altshuller received his first patent at age 14 for an underwater breathing device.  In his early twenties, having gained a reputation as an inventor, many people came to him for help with their inventions and he then began his quest to develop a method for invention.  He found no existing methods and, being skeptical of the then current psychological methods of creativity, he looked to the accumulated results of invention as documented in patents.

Altshuller analyzed more than 200,000 patents and made several important discoveries. He defined a truly inventive problem as having one or more internal contradictions.  He discovered that there were identifiable patterns of solutions to inventive problems and abstracted more than one hundred of those patterns. He discovered that technological systems evolve over time according to patterns that have predictive power.  He also developed several methods and tools for applying this knowledge and he and his colleagues tested the validity of each of his discoveries through extensive practical work solving tough technological problems.

Altshuller established training and certification programs and educated hundreds of students in the use of his methods.  He engaged in continuous development of a science of invention until his health declined and further development of TRIZ passed entirely to his students and colleagues.  TRIZ was virtually unknown in the West until the early nineties. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union many TRIZ masters immigrated to the United States, Israel, and Western Europe. Development of TRIZ as a method for innovation and invention continues today and the community of practitioners has grown worldwide.  The concepts of TRIZ are used by professional inventors and engineers and are taught in many colleges and universities.  Profound enough for the professional, TRIZ principles and methods have also been successfully learned by children and youth in elementary and high schools including schools in the United States.

To learn more about TRIZ, click to Halliburton Associates.


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