An undesirable effect is the basis of a problem situation
A problem situation consists in that the production of a useful product is also accompanied by the occurrence of some negative phenomena - undesirable effects. Sometimes there are many undesirable effects in a situation and they may have intricate relationships with one another. You should start work on the problem with that undesirable effect which needs to be eliminated first.
At the beginning of the analytical stage, we clarify the situation trying to understand the causes of the problem and conditions required for the problem to be absent. First of all, it is necessary to identify an undesirable effect. Then we move to the level of a technical device, machine, the operation of which is associated with the problem situation. This portion of work is aimed at narrowing the search field and identifying the conflict interaction of the system components.
The analysis of a problem situation is a step-by-step gaining of deeper insight into a problem, the movement from the known to the unknown. From understanding the situation in general to its technical details, from studying the operation principle of a machine to detecting its conflicting components. It is necessary to find the problem area and to understand what kind of harmful interaction between the system components exists there. The conflict is the core of our problem, the negative interaction between the system components that generates a problem situation.
Procedure of problem situation analysis
The following sequence of operations is the most convenient way to study a problem situation. At first, we observe some phenomenon, for example, the work of a problem technical device, accumulate information about its work, explore the problem associated with this phenomenon. Then we carry out the analysis itself and try to find out the essence of the problem - where, under what conditions and for what reasons the conflict interaction occurs. Next, it is necessary to understand the causes of the conflict and propose working hypotheses of how to eliminate them. The final action of the analytical stage is putting forward hypotheses and formulating the problem.
The analytical part of the work on the problem situation is performed in several steps.
1. Clarifying a problem situation
First, it is necessary to clarify the circumstances of the problem situation itself, understand what the undesirable effect is, find out the production of what useful product is associated with the problem situation and what principle is used to obtain a useful product.
2. Identifying a problem machine
At the second step, it is necessary to move from the description of the problem situation to understanding where the problem source hides.
First, you need to understand which machine, which equipment causes the appearance of an undesirable effect while operating, what kind of harmful product comes out of its operation. Then we find out all necessary information about the machine: its composition and structure, the details of the production process it performs.
3. Identifying a problem operation
The analysis of the structure and operation of the problem machine should be used to determine a problem operation.
Then it is necessary to determine which operation of the production process is responsible for the appearance of a harmful product which gives rise to a chain of negative events causing the appearance of the undesirable effect. This will help to identify the problem zone of the machine, the place where the conflict occurs.
4. Detecting a conflict
A conflict is a machine imperfection, a harmful interaction of the machine components which leads to the appearance of a harmful product of a problem operation. To define a conflict, it is necessary to clarify which components of the machine participate in the generation of the harmful product, when exactly the conflict occurs, what exactly occurs and where it occurs.
5. Studying the causes of a conflict
To eliminate a conflict, it is necessary to understand its nature and causes.
To identify the causes of a conflict, we reason as follows. To perform any operation, a “useful” technical system can be identified. It produces a useful product.
The presence of a conflict means that a “harmful” system acts alongside a useful one. It produces a harmful product. We need to detect the components of the harmful system and understand how they interact. In addition, we can study the chain of events that lead to the occurrence of the conflict and understand its appearance circumstances.
6. Proposing hypotheses of conflict-elimination methods and problem formulation
In conclusion, it is necessary to choose a conflict elimination direction.
For this purpose, we need to put forward hypotheses - assumptions concerning the conflict elimination conditions. These can include both the elimination of the very causes of the conflict or counteraction during its occurrence and the neutralization of its consequences, changes in the modes of operation of the device, changes in the environment, etc.
By formulating a hypothesis, we propose the way of achieving the goal and outline the possible way of solving the problem. A working hypothesis is based on understanding and explaining the causes of the conflict. It describes the transformations of the problem situation and machine needed for conflict resolution and specifies the conditions that should be provided in a certain zone of the machine in order to eliminate the conflict.
The proposed hypothesis should be verified by introducing changes in the problem device and carrying out testing experiments. If this is difficult and expensive to do, verification is carried out on object, mathematical, computer, mental and other types of models. However, it is not always clear how to provide the conditions described in the hypothesis. In this case, an inventive problem arises. We need to solve it and answer the following question: how can the device be transformed to provide the conditions described in the hypothesis? At this stage, serious contradictions may arise that should be eliminated with the aid of TRIZ tools.
About the work with TRIZ-trainer
At the input of the analytical stage, we have a free-form description of the problem situation. The output is a more or less clear statement of the problem to be solved at the second stage.
To correctly identify the conflict in the system and formulate the problem condition, each step of the analytical part of the algorithm should be thoroughly studied. Special attention should be paid to maintaining the logical sequence of actions. When performing each action, care needs to be taken that it is based on the information known to us from the previous actions.