There are a number of methodologies available in today's literature that provides data on innovation and inventiveness. A number of those methodologies are contained herein, with a special emphasis on the TRIZ approach to innovation. The TRIZ approach is appealing to many experts because of the 40 principles developed by Genrich Altshuller. These principles provide direction to civil engineers (or anyone who wishes to address a problem with innovation) regarding a myriad of problems in all areas. The principles have been used in construction, design, education, business and everyday life. It would seem that TRIZ can be a useful approach to any individual willing to learn the principles and apply them to problem solving.
Other approaches have also been addressed in this literature review including Metaplanning, Moderation, CPTR, and Gaussian approaches. However, it seems as if the most efficient and productive overall approach is the TRIZ method of addressing problems. TRIZ software is available that can assist the company in implementation, but it is suggested that the UK culture would have to be overcome in order for the full benefits of implementing the TRIZ methodology are achieved.
Current available literature presents trends in the use of systematic methods of innovation regarding civil engineering. These trends show a number of processes that have evolved over time including the TRIZ process, the Gaussian approach, German Metaplanning/Moderation methods, AbstractGenetic Programming, ARCH model for innovations, and the Fiatech CPTR methodology for engineers. Other complementary approaches such as Algorithm of Solving Inventive Problems (ARIZ), Function Analysis and Root Conflict Anlaysis have also been discoursed upon and many of these approaches will be discussed within this paper, along with their connections to both TRIZ and amongst each other.
Many of these approaches utilize electronics and digital technology in order to enhance the innovations in their particular field. For instance the AbstractGenetic program "is a systematic method for getting computers to automatically solve problems" (AI EDAM, 2008, p. 185), and innovation is just another way of solving problems. Of course human genetic engineering can be quite different than civil engineering, but the concept of innovation runs true through much of the literature no matter the underlying field of study.
One recent study determined that "evolution of technology is not a random process; instead it is governed by a number of trends and regularities" (Souchkov, 2007, p. 2). In order to address this evolution and provide for a quick response to a world that is constantly changing in a myriad of ways, the TRIZ approach to innovations was created in Russia. The ARCH model "characterizes the distribution of the stochastic error conditional on the realized values of the set of variables" (Perrilli, 2001, p. 2).
In comparison, according to some experts, the TRIZ approach is much more likely to provide a basis for new ideas and processes of evolution or innovation. The TRIZ approach (Theory of Solving Inventive Problems) originated in 1948 in Russia by a scientist who studied patents for over 30 years. What he discovered, was that there are relatively few new inventions, instead 99.7% of new inventions are really just using known solution principles. The Russian scientist and engineer, Genrich Altshuller, also discovered that "inventors and strong thinkers use common patterns" (Souchkov, p. 2) and that these patterns could be used to ascertain innovating, interesting and intriguing ideas and solutions that might not otherwise be realized.
As Souchkov states, "TRIZ introduces a new way of thinking…it is not enough to use techniques, it is important to be capable of recognizing a problems as a part of system, to be able to see things at different levels, to recognize links between system parts" (p. 3). In addition, TRIZ provides a method for systematic change based on seeing what is already present, but seeing it in a new light. Instead of adding additional components for improvements, TRIZ may suggest modifying a component that is already present. It may accomplish this suggestion through a process of organizing a "translation of the specific problem into abstract problem and then proposes to use a generic principle or a pattern, which is relevant to the type of the problem" (Souchkov, p. 5).
TRIZ is one approach that has been eloquently espoused upon in the available literature, and it could be considered as part of the overall body of work considered as Modern Systematic Innovation. Other approaches that are included in Modern Systematic Innovation include the Function Analysis, ARIZ and Root Conflict Analysis.
As one recent study found "with the rapid progress of modern civilization, creativity and innovation within a techno-economic perspective are becoming the major driving forces behind the sustainability of economic growth and competitive achievements" (Badran, 2007, p. 573). Creativity and innovation have always been an important component of human development (otherwise how would we have accomplished what we have accomplished so far?) and finding systems that work for innovation purposes is a big part of that development.
According to the literature, one of the techniques used to assist in that innovation is the Function Analysis. Analyzing functions is used in a variety of forms and in many different arenas. Much of the function analysis that is taking place is now handled by a myriad of software programs and computer enhancements. One study showed that "due to the rapid growth of technology and high level of industrial competition, the software development process has also become very complex" (Chatterjee, Nigam, Singh, Upadhyaya, 2011, p. 33). However, that software development complexity is often what leads to answers and solutions to problems that might not be as understood without modern software to assist the civil engineer. Analyzing functions can take place at the behest of the engineer in order to determine what changes, trends, patterns, and/or improvements must be made.
One of the most durable of the available software processes is a process called ARIZ. The Algorithm of Solving Inventive Problems (ARIZ) is often used by those individuals employing the TRIZ model of innovation. According to one expert, ARIZ utilizes "a process of problem reformulations, is logical and disciplined, continually reinterprets the problem and is the main TRIZ method for solving conflicts" (Marconi).
ARIZ allows the user to develop an understanding to what could be the Ideal Solution to the problem at hand. According to Marconi, ARIZ develops contradictions (first the technical then the physical contradiction) while also looking at the resources that are available and the scientific effects. Literature shows that there are three levels to ARIZ including; 1) Restructuring the original problem, 2) removing the physical contradiction, and 3) analyzing the solution.
As a process for innovation, ARIZ walks the user through a step-by-step process and the "steps and questions do not necessarily occur in a linear fashion" (Marconi). That being said, ARIZ is also "more than 50% problem reformulation" (Marconi). That problem reformulation goes hand in hand with the TRIZ approach to innovation. Marconi demonstrates how the three levels addressed by ARIZ works. She states that when ARIZ restructures the original problem it does so by transitioning the user from the original problem to a more 'inventive modification of the problem "through the use of the 'mini-problem' and the formation of the 'technical contradictions" (Marconi). The second step is to analyze the resources available by looking at where the "selected conflict is taking place and the periods of time when the conflict is happening and the objects and the energy of the system" (Marconi). TRIZ does this as a preparatory step before the physical contradiction while recording resources, components and the environment for future use. The last step, according to Marconi, is to define the ideal final result and formulate the physical contradiction. Or in other words it "positions the problem to be solved at its highest level by stating the conflict in terms of conflicting requirements of the same parameter" (Marconi).
Civil engineering can be described as a discipline that includes designing physical buildings, road, canals, and bridges and can be broken down into various categories, many of which deal with innovations that will affect society's resources whether they be water, structures, environments, or materials. To meet society's rapidly evolving needs and circumstances civil engineers will need to be fully armed with the expertise to build and maintain structures that will support those needs. As mentioned above, innovations can be met with a variety of programs and processes that provide the civil engineer an open door into complex scenarios requiring answers, improvements and innovations to solve ongoing problems.
One method for addressing those problems is through an approach called the German Metaplanning/Moderation approach. According to modern literature this approach is a technique that can be used to generate ideas to create improvements and innovations through collaboration and brainstorming within group surroundings. This approach seems to work best when a group is presented with a problem than can be addressed by experts with experience and knowledge who are willing to work together in a groups scenario to solve the problem. Of course, meta-analysis has long been part of…
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