This book was mentioned in an article I was reading and it spurred me on to read it and find out a bit more about TRIZ. It purports to provide a generic method or methods for finding solutions to universal problems. Sadly it doesn't do this at all.
It was written with high school students in mind and I read it within this context. The author (during his work and his subsequent 25-year sentence spent in a concentration camp in Siberia) suggests that solutions to problems can be found by studying his methods and applying his process. His methods have been extracted from studying numerous engineering patents, or so you think at first. Until you realise that they're not 'real' international patents but 'Author's Certificates' issued to inventors during the Soviet era and within the Soviet Union.
Further reading reveals that all the problems studied are physical/mechanical problems to which a number of solutions appear to be solved by using ferromagetic powder and applying a magnetic field. Convenient that so many problems have this same solution. After a while, the reader realises that what the author has done is study a number of physical/mechanical problems and their solutions, categorise the solutions into buckets of ideas, then present those ideas as a 'method' for solving a similar problem. It is a worthy goal to try and find if there are universal patterns to finding solutions to problems but the author's 'work' is nowhere near this.
For example, method #11 (and my favourite by the way) is "Add magnetic powder to the substance and apply a magnetic field". Brilliant. I look forware to finding solutions to my software engineering problems with that. Or perhaps I might try method #23 "Utilization of soap bubbles and foam".
Later on, the author introduces his 'S-field' method for analyzing problems, using various straight and dashed lines with arrowheads to denote fields and how they interact with one another. Yes we know that there are a number of different 'fields' in Physics, magnetic, electric, gravitational and so on, and the author uses his expert knowledge (or pseudo-science more like) of these fields to lend credence to these ideas. No this is not a new methology but the ramblings of a nut case who's spent too much time in Siberia.
One might accept all this if it were only intended as a book for school kids but the preface to the book mentions how TRIZ followers wish to set up an Altshuller Institute in America (this was 20 years ago of course), the very idea that this book offers anything of any use to any professional engineer, scientist or inventor is deluded. And the word 'follower' is apt, suggesting a cult more than a scientific methodology.
Perhaps this book belongs in the 1950s Soviet era when the bulk of the 'work' was done. It shouldn't really be in print anymore so please save yourself the money that I paid to read this book. It's not worth it.
This book, written by Altshuller (the creator of TRIZ) under a pseudonym, is aimed at secondary school students and while not rigorous in its development, provides an entertaining look at how the methods of TRIZ can be applied to a variety of problems. Semyon D. Savransky, Ph.D. (TRIZnik)