On “A Problem-Solver’s Guide”

A Problem-Solver’s Guide to Copycatting” is an article by Dan Heath and Chip Heath for Fast Company. The article looks at how P&G explored biomimicry with the aid of the San Diego Zoo for innovation inspiration.

 They state, “But while the hunt may not be easy, it’s not random either. It’s about pattern matching. Ask yourself who might have solved a problem similar to yours.”

 It’s not random; they’re correct. The TRIZ (the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving) methodology shows you how to find the solution you need with the underlying understanding that someone else, somewhere else, has already solved it for you!

After the examination of hundreds of thousands of patents, three primary findings were noted by the founder of TRIZ, Genrich Altshuller, and his colleagues:

  1. Problems and solutions are repeated across industries and sciences. The classification of the contradictions in each problem predicts the creative solutions to that problem.
  2. Patterns of technical evolution are repeated across industries and sciences.
  3. Creative innovations use scientific effects outside the field where they were developed.

Copycatting is good – but it’s better if it’s used within the proven, scientific methodology of TRIZ.