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Systematic inventive thinking

Systematic inventive thinking

Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT) is a thinking method developed in Israel in the mid-1990s. Derived from Genrich Altshuller ‘s TRIZ engineering discipline, SIT is a practical approach to creativity , innovation and problem solving , qui HAS Become a Well Known methodology for Innovation. At the heart of SIT’s method is one of the ideas of Genrich Altshuller’s TRIZ which is also known as Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TIPS): that inventive solutions share common patterns. Focus on not doing things inventive solutions different – but on what they share in common – is core to SIT’s approach.

History of the SIT Methodology

Overview – The Creativity Debate

SIT deals with two main areas of creativity: Ideation of new ideas, [1] and problem solving. In the 1970s, researchers from the field of Cognitive Psychology established a quantitative yardstick for measuring creativity. [2] A high rate of ideas per unit of time was considered an indication of creativity. This approach to a series of methods for quantitative growth is based on a qualitative improvement. Such widely known methods as brainstorming , Synectics , random stimulation and lateral thinking(identified with Edward de Bono ) can be traced to this approach. More recent studies reveal the appearance of a different approach. These studies show that the problem is solved by the problem of solvers. The shape of a parallel line between quantity and quality. It has been discovered that it is very important that it behaves very much more effectively than it does in the past. [3] [4]These discoveries have come from the past and the future, and have come from the past. One of the characteristics of organized thinking is a state of “low stimuli”, unencumbered by a large amount of ideas. In this approach, originality replaces quantity as a dominant criterion. This organized or structured approach is the starting point for Systematic Inventive Thinking. [5]

The TRIZ Heritage

SIT is a descendant of the work of Genrich Altshuller , a Russian engineer who analyzed 200,000 patents to identify the 40 common inventive principles of his unique formula, named TRIZ. Altshuller’s main discovery was that creative solutions incorporate an elimination of a conflict in the problem state. A change in the parameters of a parameter must be changed, in order to get some benefit, but changing that parameter causes a deterioration of another important parameter. Routine engineering design deals with this situation by searching for the “best fit” compromised, a trade off that maximizes the utility and minimizes the negative impact of a specific configuration of the variance of the input parameters.

Altshuller found that the engineering conflicts were initially indexed according to the type of parameters involved.

Examining numerous inventions made it possible to assign a solution to possible problems or strategies. Three types of hints are used: principles, standards and physical effects. There are 40 principles; each help with defining high level strategies for solving the problem. There are 70 standards, which are more elaborated ideas based on collective past solutions. There is a knowledge of physical, chemical, and geometrical aspects, which can be carried out.

During the 1970s, one of Altshuller’s students, Ginadi Filkovsky, immigrated to Israel and joined the Open University in Tel Aviv . He began teaching TRIZ and adapting it to the needs of both Israeli and international hi-tech companies. A number of key academics have been involved in this research.

Two Ph.D. students, Jacob Goldenberg and Roni Horowitz, [6] joined Filkovsky, focusing their research on developing and simplifying the methodology. Their work forms the basis of the SIT method as it exists today. Both TRIZ and SIT share a basic assumption – that one can study existing creative ideas in a field, identify common logical patterns in these ideas, translate the patterns into a set of Thinking Tools, and then apply these Thinking Tools to generate new creative ideas. In spite of the commonality, SIT strongly differs from TRIZ in several important respects, having to do this with its practical application. [7]

From TRIZ to SIT

The move from TRIZ to SIT was motivated by the desire to make it easier and more efficient and more efficient. keeping the problem solver within a real inventive framework (the Closed World principle). TRIZ also favors using existing resources for solving a problem. But in contrast to SIT, this principle is scattered around the method. It can be found in the principle of Ideal Final Result (“the best system is when there is no system” – Altshuller). The difference between TRIZ and SIT is the most important principle. This is particularly applicable when the template approach is applied to problem solving. The first step in using SIT for Problem Solving is to define the problem world. Once defined, the problem solver knows that all of the building blocks for the solution are simply there and that the solution simply requires the reorganization of the existing objects. This adds great focus and power to the method. It also turns every real problem into an amusing puzzle.

Five Thinking Tools

1. Subtraction 

Remove an essential component from a product and find uses for the new envisioned arrangement of the existing components. This abstracted arrangement is known as a ‘virtual product’.

2. Multiplication 

Add to a product of the same type as an existing component. The added component should be changed in some way. The 2 keywords for this tool are: 1) more and 2) different. These represent the two stages for applying the tool: 1) Add more copies of something that exists in the product and 2) changes those copies according to some parameter.

3. Division 

Divide the product and / or its components and rearrange them to form a new product. Using this tool forces considerations of different structures, or on the level of the product / service as a whole, or on the level of an individual component. Dividing a product to many parts gives the freedom to reconstruct it in many new ways.

4. Task Unification 

Assign a new and additional task to an existing resource. Less affluent cultures are more likely to adopt the Task Unification mindset. For example, the bedouins use a different number of tasks: transportation, currency, milk, skin for tents, shade, protection from the wind, burning feces for fuel. More affluent societies tend to jettison resources.

5. Attribute Dependency 

Creating and dissolving dependencies between variables of a product. Attribute Dependency works with variables rather than components. Variables are easy to identify and can change within a product or component (eg color, size, material).


The Closed World – Thinking Inside the Box

The Closed World is crucial to SIT’s methodology. The first step in using SIT is to define the problem world. Once defined, the problem solver knows that all of the building blocks for the solution are simply there and that the solution simply requires the reorganization of the existing objects. This adds great focus and power to the method. It also can turn every real problem into an amusing puzzle. The Closed World condition deals with the likeness between the world problem and the world solution. The condition stipulates that in the development of a new product – or when addressing a problem – one must use existing elements already existing in the product / problem, or in the immediate environment. This condition forces us to rely on resources already at our disposal, rather than “importing” new external resources for the solution. The Closed World condition often provokes resistance as it runs counter to some of the most common intuitions about creative thinking, especially the ubiquitous notion of “thinking out of the box”. The essential claim of “thinking out of the box” is that you need to move beyond normal thinking patterns, to a universe located outside the metaphorical box. The Closed World condition, by contrast, forces the thinker to find a creative solution. Since the scope of possibilities is more limited, there is no choice but to reconsider the relationship between the two. their assigned functions and their necessity. Thus, the Closed World condition sets us on a collision course with our fixedness, allowing us to arrive at solutions which are both innovative (different from the usual) and simple (since based on existing and known elements).

Qualitative Change

The Qualitative Change principle dictates that the situation is variable or variable in the existing situation. In other words, a problematic element in a situation is neutralized, so it no longer presents an obstacle. It can also be the case that the problematic element becomes a key positive factor; the situation is ‘reversed’, and the disadvantage transforms into an advantage.

Function Follows Form

See also: form follows function

A term coined by Ronald Finke, Function Follows Form is often considered a “backwards” process in which the starting point for thinking of new ideas is identified in the market. These needs, however, are never ignored – they are simply introduced at a later stage. The process begins with an existing product (or service), which is systematically to create what it is the Form of the Product and then satisfies it. The Function Follows Form is an overarching framework to focus the application SIT’s Thinking Tools.

Function follows form

Function follows form is a principle associated with classic architecture, and it is also being used in government buildings. The concept of this concept is based on a shape, but does not consider its function at the initial stage of architectural design.

Path of Most Resistance

See also: [[: [1] the Path of Most Resistance]

In nature, water cascading down a mountain will always follow the path of least resistance – the easiest route. In thinking, too, our minds tend to take the path of least resistance – those avenues most familiar to us. So doing, it is difficult to arrive at our competitors. SIT encourages an approach to the counter-intuitive path – the path of most resistance.

Cognitive Fixedness

Cognitive Fixedness is a state of mind in which an object or situation is perceived in a specific way, to the exclusion of any alternative. There are several types of fixedness, among them:

Functional Fixedness

A term coined by the social scientist Karl Dunker. Functional fixedness is the tendency to ascribe specific functions to respective objects. Dunker sees Functional Fixedness as a “Mental Block Against a Problem”, as described in his cognitive performance test, known as the Candle problem .

Structural Fixedness

This is the tendency to view as a whole, as a gestalt , which often makes it difficult to imagine how the product could be reorganized to look differently. For example, why do TV controls always be part of the TV set? Would it be easier if they were on the upper hand? When television sets were first introduced, the controls were potentiometers made out of wax. The heat that was emitted from the Cathode Ray Tubes, dispersing upwards would have been the place. Therefore, they were placed on the lower part. But since then, new generations of TV sets are available, and still one would find the controls on the lower part. This is Structural Fixedness.

Near Far Sweet

Most ideas for new products are uninspired or impractical. Finding the “sweet spot” requires a balance that leads to both ingenious and viable ideas. This notion is expressed in a Harvard Business Review Article entitled “Finding Your Sweet Spot Innovation”. [8]When we innovate we push our thinking outward, trying to create something new and different from what we have now. Yet we do not want to wander too far off. A “great” idea must be executable and palatable. The NFS principle assures that it will be necessary for us to be able to take advantage of this situation. The SIT thinking process uses the FFF procedure and the five thinking tools in order to generate new forms (virtual products). These forms if unrestrained might lead to “far” ideas. The “closed world” condition for example acts as an inhibitor, making sure we do not wander too far out. This combination of opposite forces keeps us ideating in the sweet zone.

The Template Approach to New Product Development

SIT Approaches New Product Development by identifying and applying certain well-defined patterns derived from a historical analysis of product-based trends, termed patterns or templates. These templates can contribute to the understanding and prediction of new product emergence. The invention of new products has traditionally involved methods that encourage the generation of large numbers of ideas. The notion that the rewards of generating a large number of ideas outweigh the costs can be traced back to early studies in the field. [9]In view of the fact that this process tends to be highly complex and un-formalized, those involved in this process may be more productive. Some may succeed in identifying patterns of invention that are common to different contexts and apply them to a certain product category, or even try to apply them to other product categories. Individuals who adopt such a cognitive strategy can expect to gain an advantage over others. However, even if they do prove productive, the patterns are likely to be idiosyncratic and, quite often, not even verbally definable. As such, they lack permanence and generalizability. SIT sets can be identifiable, objectively verifiable, and can be identified, and can be used as a facilitator. Focused. [10]

The usual process of developing new products begins with a definition of market need. This is done based on intuition or on market analysis, focus groups etc. After defining the needs, the process is in progress. This process is called form follows function , as the form of the new product is derived from the function that it should fulfill. This process has a few disadvantages: citation needed ]

  1. Most customers have difficulties in thinking about the needs or products, which do not exist. This is particularly true for you, which is not vital. For example: how many people thought of the need for a compact, portable tape player as addressed by Walkman ? How many customers thought about the possibility to use the Internet as communication means clustering to conduct phone calls ?
  2. To find those customers who do not know what to look for in the future. But even if you succeed in finding those people, chances are they will not be happy.
  3. If the need is clear or easy to define, it is most likely that, at least a few of your competitors have already defined it and are in the process of addressing the need.

In order to overcome these problems, the SIT method suggests starting the process of product development from the product itself. Applying systematic thinking tools in analyzing the product can lead to potential new products or a definition of new needs. The advantages of this method are as follows:

  1. The process requires only a limited amount of hours and is conducted in-house;
  2. Applying the method yields many new ideas and a definition of many potential new needs;
  3. As the new products are based on the old one, no major changes are usually required in production.

One of the important elements of SIT is to characterize the system and environmental variables. After having defined these variables, the participants are asked to examine the correlation between them, and to examine the impact of manipulating the product. how such a change affects the correlation between the product and the environment.

SIT in Universities and Business Schools

SIT is taught in numerous Universities and Business Schools worldwide. The methodology is most often taught through programs on Innovation; Business Administration; marketing; Organizational Development; Leadership; Management Studies.

(ordered alphabetically)

  • Bar Ilan University
  • Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
  • Brigham Young University
  • Columbia University
  • Duke University
  • Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • London Business School
  • National University of Singapore
  • Shiv Nadar University
  • Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
  • Tel Aviv University
  • University of Los Andes Bogota
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Visart, Budapest
  • Wharton Business School


  1. Jump up^ Goldenberg, J; Lehmann D; Mazursky D (2001). “The idea itself and the circumstances of its emergence as predictors of new product success” . Management Science : 69-84. doi : 10.1287 / mnsc. .
  2. Jump up^ Marshall Y, Glenman T, Summers R (1967). Strategy for R & D Studies in Microeconomics of Development . New York: Springer-Verlag.
  3. Jump up^ Connolly T; Routhieaux R. L; Schneider, S. K (1993). On the effectiveness of groups brainstorming: test of a cognitive mechanism . Small Group Research. pp. 490-503.
  4. Jump up^ Paulus, BP (1993). “Perception of performance in group brainstorming: the illusion of group productivity”. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin . 19 : 78-89. doi : 10.1177 / 0146167293191009 .
  5. Jump up^ Goldenberg, J; Mazursky D, Solomon S (1999). “Creative Sparks” . Science . 285 : 1495-1496. doi : 10.1126 / science.285.5433.1495 .
  6. Jump up^ Horowitz, R. “Creative Problem Solving In Engineering Design” (PDF) .
  7. Jump up^ Goldenberg, J (2002). “2-3”. Creativity-Product-Innovation . Cambridge University Press.
  8. Jump up^ Goldenberg, J; Levav A; Mazursky D; Solomon S (March 2003). “Finding your Sweet Spot Innovation” . Harvard Business Review .
  9. Jump up^ Levav A; Stern Y (2005). “The DNA of Ideas” (PDF) . Bio-IT World Magazine .
  10. Jump up^ Goldenberg, J; Mazursky D; Solomon S (1999). “Toward identifying the inventive templates of new products: A channeled ideation approach” (PDF) . Journal of Marketing Research .