TRIZ: enhancing the Six Sigma methodology

We have talked a lot about Six Sigma and how it is applied to companies and processes. Today we are going to learn about TRIZ which is a concept that is part or improves the Six Sigma methodology, and that is said to be the next level for Six Sigma and many other associated strategies.

To begin with, TRIZ is a Russian concept that means Teoriya Resheniya Izobretatelskikh Zadatch in the Russian language of course. The exact translation to English is the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving. The concept can be compared to a black belt or green belt student that achieves that certain level. TRIZ is that level of Six Sigma that every student needs to learn about, and that will make the technique and the performance much better.

TRIZ is a way of dealing with problems using data and logic to arrive at real decisions. In TRIZ assumptions and intuition is not accepted which makes information and data easier for a project manager to understand and handle so he or she then can propose real solutions to the problem. The algorithmic that TRIZ uses is very structured, and it gives the companies that use it the necessary validity, predictability, and reliability that any project requires to move at a very good pace.

TRIZ also focuses more on patterns that can be seen when problems and solutions are repeated in time and not on trial and error procedures. So people tend to ask themselves why hasn’t this methodology been in the market for some time now? And why have companies waited so long to apply TRIZ to their strategies? Well, the thing is that markets for products or services have been changing and now the customers have more to say about our products or services. So, there is no time at all for trial and error strategies or discussions that lead to nowhere that can bring even more problems for the image of the company. They say that TRIZ is the missing piece of the puzzle to make Six Sigma almost perfect. So why does TRIZ improve the Six Sigma process? Here are some problems and issues that appear with the applicability of Six Sigma and new issues that can appear for future deployments and that TRIZ can manage even better.

The first and biggest problem is the decision making process that always takes a very long time leading to a lot of rework and to repeat activities aimed at collecting data. This is always a big bottleneck because decisions from the C-level jobs have to be made in order to start to apply Lean Six Sigma or TRIZ Six Sigma.

In the phase where the problem is identified and defined Six Sigma can have problems such as a very bad project selection or a very inaccurate problem formulation; secondary problems that come up when the first problems are being solved; the scope of the project can be leading to the wrong direction. Other failures are in the range of the data that is collected and how long does it take to collect, the Lack of ideas and improvements and the lack of competitive design or redesign.

And for small businesses the problems that arise when they deploy Six Sigma methodologies are: very limited staff that is willing to work overtime, candidates for Black and Green Belt positions are very hard to find, resources are very hard to find and candidates that do go on to work with small businesses tend to their work on an overtime basis.

TRIZ_logistics_six sigma
Image courtesy of Joxfordcreativity at

Now, here is how TRIZ can help the Six Sigma deployment improve and reach better levels of performance. TRIZ was first applied in manufacturing processes but is goes further than traditional system engineering approaches and it has many tools that are vital for problem formulation, system and failure analysis and to identify patterns of evolution.

In the phase where the problem is defined the traditional Six Sigma has no systematic approach but with the TRIZ approach there are requirements that aim at contradiction and it looks at all the options in the early stages of the problem formulation phase. TRIZ also takes a look at the problem formulation in an inverted way so cause-effect and input-output analysis is easier and the causes of problems are easily identified.

In the Idea-generation phase the traditional six sigma approach uses these 3 steps: Generating alternatives, screening such alternatives and evaluating the top concepts. On the other hand, the TRIZ approach uses different Idea-collection techniques and many Idea-stimulation techniques, for example, the Altschuler’s matrix for solving contradictions and identifying patterns.

The TRIZ approach is gaining strength even though is as old as his sister the Six Sigma techniques. It is a good thing to keep this approach into account for the next trends to come on this topic.

Be sure to also read this article about the importance of the supply chain manager

* Featured Image courtesy of marcfonteijn at



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