Systematic creativity resources

March 17, 2011 by Joshua
in Art, Blog, Creativity, Entrepreneurship, Tips

[This post is part of a series on creativity. If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]

I haven’t gone into any detail about Altshuller’s 40 principles. The main reason is I found that others already have and did a great job, so I’ll just link to them. The other reason is that his principles are hard to get through. Some aren’t that useful outside of engineering. A few will get you far and, more importantly, with practice will get you into the mindset of looking to apply known solutions to new problems instead of trying to solve them from scratch. As I’ve said, you’ll solve problems quicker and more easily. Others will view you as creative, especially if they buy into the genius myth, not knowing you’re just enjoying yourself.

The best background I found was a series of videos based on a business seminar by Mark Fox, a Chief Engineer on NASA’s shuttle program who also has an MBA. Each is under ten minutes. They’re great.

  • Video one: Altshuller’s history and motivation, overview of TRIZ; creativity is applying known solutions to problems, don’t compromise in the face of contradiction, TRIZ process, use available resources, 40 principles, principle 1: segmentation, examples from his life
  • Video two: More Altshuller history and motivation, R&D is “rob and duplicate” (aka “good artists borrow, great artists steal”); all solutions already exist; principle 2: Remove or make something better by taking something out; examples from his life, advertising, marketing, photography; many creative people have stumbled on one or more of these principles and implement them
  • Video three: Evolution of an idea (width of shuttle cones ultimately determined by horses that determined width of Roman roads), all ideas of conventional wisdom will be wrong some time so best to assume they’re wrong, benefits of challenging assumptions and conventional wisdom
  • Video four: another principle: “peel the onion” or understand why things are the way they are, why did people do things the way they did, answers suggest how to make things better, examples from his life (including Apollo 13’s “waste dump” literal shitstorm for not peeling the onion)
  • Video five: Principle of Merging or combining things, especially available resources whether they’re yours or not, examples from business
  • Video six: Principle of Nested Doll, putting something inside another, examples from business (“beer belly” pouch to sneak beer into stadiums, add-on sales); avoid too much detail in stating the problem or opportunity statement, state it generally, let idea sit until you are comfortable with it, solutions will come
  • Video seven: Principle of Weight Compensation, examples from business and his life like bundling, bartering, logrolling
  • Video eight: Testing, try it, figure out how you can get it to fail in two weeks; Most new discoveries don’t involve a “eureka” moment but a puzzled “what the hell just happened”, examples (smallpox vaccination, microwave, Viagra discoveries), when worried about making a mistake: go try it and don’t worry about failing
  • Video nine: Sensible design: consider how an idea affects each sense, leads to attention to detail, examples from business (sound in cars and motorcycle, weight in speakers, LEDs in consumer goods
  • Video ten: Principle of Equal potentiality: counterbalancing; Principle of The Other Way Around: do something backward or change the context
  • Video eleven: Principle of Curvature: curve something instead of straight; Dynamics: allow a part to change or move relative relative to others; Partial or Excessive Action: allow something to vary more or less than usual (example of not having to sign for credit cards)
  • Video twelve: Mechanical vibration: make something vibrate, examples like washing machines, resonance between eyes and shuttle launch
  • Video thirteen: Change your viewpoints to work in your favor, own up to your mistakes

Other good sources

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