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Converging in Problem Formulation: A Different Path in Design

[+] Author Affiliations
Denis Cavallucci, Philippe Lutz, Dmitry Kucharavy

ENSAIS, Strasbourg Cedex, France

Paper No. DETC2002/DTM-34025, pp. 279-286; 8 pages
  • ASME 2002 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 4: 14th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology, Integrated Systems Design, and Engineering Design and Culture
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada, September 29–October 2, 2002
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-3624-X
  • Copyright © 2002 by ASME


The efficiency of the design process in companies today is largely dependent on the skills of individual members of project teams, the capacity of the software available on the market and any assistance provided by the tools and methods found scattered around the industrial world. Within this context, there have been myriad attempts to optimize the different stages in the design process by using computerization, but a growing proportion of current research work on design tends to agree that the crucial point in the act of designing lies in the phase where inventive ideas are sought and that without such ideas being generated, there is no successful future for the product. In the framework of a large number of research activities it has been proven that the TRIZ (the Russian acronym of Theory of Inventive Problem Solving) contribution to the science of design has a promising potential [1–2–3–4]. On the other hand, the added value and spectrum of problem typology where TRIZ could help remains unclear for most researchers for various reasons. Originally, since the theory has penetrated the so-called occidental world, every individual took from TRIZ what he thought was right according to his own knowledge about design, problem solving process, creativity or needs forgetting that 95% of scientific literature about TRIZ’s fundamentals was written either in Cyrillic or in unpublished manuscripts. In most cases, theses multitudes of uses did not see that the original idea of TRIZ was to formulate a theory as strong basement for building methods and tools to satisfy designers expectations. This fact led nowadays TRIZ’s image to fuzziness since available literature on the subject only presents case studies and uses of tools (mostly the matrix) although TRIZ’s scope is much wider. To avoid further aggravation of this fact, this paper aims at presenting the first axiom describing TRIZ’s objectives as a basement for our research activities. Two methodological approaches are then presented : the “trial and error” type approach, which is still very much in use everywhere in industry and which aims to explore an area of solution-seeking, following a structural approach or not, through a series of attempts, which often end up in failure. The second approach is the “convergent” approach proposed by the TRIZ body of knowledge and developed as a contribution to design activity’s efficiency in our research center. This approach aims at limiting the sphere of research during a larger and longer problem statement stage to converge towards a small number of solutions in opposition to traditional approaches which consists in generating a large amount of ideas and select the best suitable ones to be implemented. A case study on the internal ventilation of a car will also be presented to illustrate the quality of the results that could be obtained when applying this convergent approach.

Copyright © 2002 by ASME
Topics: Design



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