Exploitation as contradiction in ideality

2 really disparate examples of exploitation here, I will do a couple of illustrations for defining these contexts as contradictions in players’ ideality and then applying a trend.

One from the affordable internet efforts and why even with reducing capex and opex telecom companies would not cut prices to customers and continue to exploit.

Player Function Ideality Contradiction and resulting exploitation
ISP/Carrier/Operator connect subscribers                          to internet not lose subscriber base, increasing revenues/cash flows, decreasing spend, monopoly increasing average revenue and profit per user directly contradicts with customers ideality to pay
Customer/Subscriber connect to internet for access to services and information pay nothing for connectivity, highest speed possible, always connected ties with devices, price increasing data plans, speed limitations, and forced congestion from operators
Investor invest for returns in companies that make profits reducing capex and opex with increasing revenues and profit is approaching ideality reduced customer service levels and migration of customers, puts revenue and profits on a decline, hence the stock value as well
Media Industry create and distribute media monopoly for content and affiliated business, no other competitive media / distribution channels becomes viable Access to media from internet directly contradicts with their business model to sell content from traditional forms of discs, cable tv content

Second example is around immigration from the recent Syria crisis, even though legal immigrants add value to the migrated place, why politicians continue to exploit voting population by fueling negative perceptions around immigration. But still continuing to turn a blind eye on labor exploits of immigrants to continue with a not so competitive economy.

Player Function Ideality Contradiction and resulting exploitation
State/Politician development and upholding state  sovereignty zero dollars spent on regulation, and citizens get all priority services from government, and never lose an election allowing cheap immigrant labor into non-subsidized industries maintains a bad economy building a false perception around immigration maintains status quo and votes from conservative population that wants to maintain sovereignty
Immigrant Labor to industry every border is open, every country is ‘migration’ worthy, on par with citizen benefits, rights protected lack of labor law to govern their employment means giving away rights, without votes or rights deprived of having a voice in the country
Industry/Employer Value creation for economy, investor, and customers cheap and exploitable labor use and less than minimum working conditions for higher profits, no litigation on violations lack of labor inspection / governance maintains  status quo, including less than worthy labor conditions and pay to immigrants and this as the only way to maintain competitiveness in a falling economy
Citizen Tax payer and uses benefits from state.Also customer for industry. Subsidized sectors, and unemployment benefits for citizens, Pay/Benefits without job. Subsidy perceived as right and any state capital spent on immigrants is actually something the citizen could be deemed eligible for as lost/wasted.
Border Control Regulate migrant flow into state no immigration (legal / illegal) means no patrol or control necessary migrants posing threats to sovereignty, and citizen welfare, calls for massive spend in border control and leading to a back passage creation

Now in both cases at super system level, you could add regulations that will move some functions from the players to another neutral authority. So Regulatory Authority could standardize price plans, open up migrations across, just like they do in insurance policy terms and conditions. Similarly new technology like unlimited connectivity say from Google Moon or, open id, could turn functions in favor of customers/migrants, while skewing for specific types of businesses and not the legacy ones.

In both cases simple system completeness trend will show deficiencies in the governance bit, and a massive undercut of benefits from customers/migrants as a driving force for the functions delivered.


What is the system in the middle of 9 windows?

System Operator aka 9 windows is very popular in TRIZ tools specifically for problem definition and trending. I always had trouble in finding what is the system in the middle that we are talking about. I think I got the block primarily from the example that was used to teach 9 windows many years ago which had a ‘tree’ in the middle and all sorts of super system, past and future imaginations written around it.

  • But is ‘tree’ a system?
  • and can I put anything in the middle and construct the rest of the eight windows?
super system future
system present
 sub system  past

It just did not feel right to imagine it that way even if it did remove some psychological inertia, and helped you imagine stuff by space/time boxing yourself. To go further and beyond how you are applying 9 windows, I will introduce 2 useful concepts that will help you figure what this system is

  1. Tool/Product: Tool, in order to deliver the most useful function, changes the state of a product and can contain elements.
  2. Most Useful Function: Primary utility that gives a human purpose to the tool and product

One of the better examples I have historically used is “Withdrawing money from an ATM”. Both the tool and function are clear and it is worthwhile putting it in the center. Building on further, you can easily identify both what is inside the ATM and around it quickly, again identifying each elements’ function and operating zone in space and time.

ARIZ goes another level deeper to template the definition, as below “The technical system for __utility__ includes __elements__. Tool directly interacts with the product and products need to be changing its state (e.g. processed)”

It is easy to put yourself, your company, a really complex system architecture, vague frameworks and the like in the middle of the 9 windows, but really it will not help much in your innovation effort.


Innovation Cues: Force Field Analysis

When Kurt Lewin came up with the framework for Force Field Analysis it was only applied to social situations, as in conflicts/society. If we take the same framework to innovation it becomes hugely applicable in developing ideas within an organization, which in itself is a complex social setting. In this post I will try to explain the basic form of force field analysis and how I think it can be applied in an innovation context.

First the concepts, “force” is a factor that drives movement within a setting, and “field” is an overall/gestalt setting as combination of many elements including motives, needs, ideals, values etc. In the analysis we list down forces that move a goal in opposite directions as is like below

Goal: _____________________________________

Worst Outcome aka Hell: _____________ Ideal Outcome aka Heaven: __________
Forces in the negative direction

Forces in the positive direction


Key questions to ask in the analysis after you list forces are

  1. What can I do to eliminate/reduce the forces that are against developing an idea further?
  2. How can I reinforce/strengthen the positive forces that will push the idea further faster towards an ideal outcome?
  3. Can I add a new positive force?

It is interesting to note the similarity between Ideal Final Result or Future Backwards here. But the key difference is force field analysis is centered in the “NOW” (not on a future or past), thereby assessing the current setting and draw a path to creating favorable conditions for innovation to flourish.

Even if it means communications/messaging, building relationships, having an open conversation, resolving conflicts of interests, agreeing to share credits/power/outcomes, among other “political” action that an innovation manager does. 


Making case for systematic innovation in consulting

I am in the idea business for about 7 years now, usually my kitty is small in terms of budget to spend, management attention, and customer appetite to ideas. Problems/Opportunities are as always many and wide. Making this a green territory for the consultant in me. 3 realities that I face are pictured below. I will then pick reasons from each and make case for the consultant in you to learn a systematic innovation method this year. It is still not too late for a resolution.

First no one including you, your boss, his/her boss, their customer, his/her investor knows for sure which will be the greatest idea (since sliced bread, iPhone, facebook, flush toilet, the movable type, safety-pin, or whatever). Greatest here is one that gives max return, finds large customer base, impacts life, etc on the outcome side. So I go for safety with numbers, instead of the 2 large bets can I get 200 ideas and later ruthlessly eliminate, or make ideas robust socially from that base before investing. If I knew how to get from 2 to 200 ideas in say 4 hours.

Second, problems manifest as contradictions or trade offs. When I try to solve one problem I have only merely shifted its base to a different department, or another part of the system. Examples could be while increasing revenue there is a disproportionate increase in marketing costs as well, while scaling up operations fast there is also significant loss of critical substance/knowledge, by increasing hourly rates am I killing a customer account slowly, and more such combinations. I don’t want to compromise on anything really, we just yet don’t know how.

Third is on the search for the rare breed genius/creative person that all of us want in our team. My experience is hugely disappointing in this front, because I can never afford this “genius in residence” and wait for the eureka moment. Instead I take safety in history, all problems that can be solved, have already been solved (by all those dead geniuses I don’t have to pay for) and I just have to adapt the solutions for my situation. Again if only I knew how.

So in short here are the 3 different reasons why you need to add ‘systematic innovation’ to your consulting arsenal/portfolio,

  1. To take safety in large number of ideas
  2. To not compromise on outcomes or merely shift problems
  3. Not afford another unpredictable genius to solve problem that have been solved elsewhere

It does not matter much what that specific innovation method is, but Sensei is guaranteeing a sharper edge to you.


TRIZ Sequential or Systematic?

Back at TRIZ India TRIZ sequence




Commitment versus Compliance part 2

I had identified a TRIZ contradiction on 2 parameters viz. quality and quantity of content base available in organizational knowledge bases. The next step after identifying the principles is the actual ideation. Principles that the contradiction matrix lists are in the same order of utility/importance. It took me exactly 40 minutes to come up with these ideas, it would useful for conducting this in a group setting and trying the same principle is the suggestion that came from my friend Prakash.

Here are the ideas… What do you think is absurd? Why do I ask this question, well

Albert Einstein says “If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it”.

13 Otherway around

1 create knowledge from beginning, instead of waiting till the end of the project
2 make knowledge creation/capture a continuous process, instead of a single AAR
3 allow all project members edit the knowledge instead of the select few
4 remove responsibility of SME/expert for knowledge creation and move the action to the knowledge seeker
5 instead of maintaining a knowledge base make it robust for all knowledge needs
6 push content (not email) where people can see relevance and access
7 move experts from project to project regularly
8 remove content from knowledge base that are never read/used to archives

32 Color Changes

9 make the seekers/creators role switch regularly
10 bright tag useful knowledgebase documents
11 tag knowledge creating people in various shades/belts/bands
12 alert system for inbred/non collaborative content creation
13 widget for recent changes across wiki with different color
14 make cross project wiki access/search possible
15 do not make public pages that are created by gamers unless seekers exist

15 Dynamization

16 every workproduct one wiki entry
17 every conversation one sense made
18 allow access from everywhere
19 allow access for everyone willing to create knowledge in context
20 divide wiki page into sections that are editable
21 create master from graph of wiki pages from links
22 make managers role optional
23 make managers role rotating
24 make content approver role rotating
25 make contributors into approvers and approvers into  contributors

23 Feedback

26 create daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly/annual reports of activity in knowledge base
27 report activity of managers to team
28 enlist customers in the collaboration system
29 survey usefulness of content pieces/large chunks
30 create bulletin boards for transactional needs
31 allow other project readers to write review or rate content
32 use half life to measure freshness of content
33 bring seeker and contributor face to face

24 intermediary

34 sub contract/delegate to new joinees for knowledge creation
35 video capture knowledge intensive tasks and avoid hard content creation
36 symbolise context for quicker description

18 Resonance

37 dont manage content/knowledge bases
38 find frequency/spiral dynamics colors/memes to which people respond
39 connect/couple resonating roles/people
40 inspire to believe in the system/medium (wiki) as a powerful enough to change the working life


Commitment Versus Compliance part 1

Case 1

Imagine this situation where you put together a bunch of mandates at various levels of management, till it reaches the last employee on knowledge capture or learning. May be you can just make a random metric based on contributions (you could complicate it by adding usage, pass through, linking, commenting, etc) to your organization’s knowledge base and give sufficient room to game for employees to have fun which anyway will happen!

Call it currency, credit, kunit, knol or whatever. And then set a target for people and indicate that it will influence somehow their variable pay. Don’t even have to promise anything!!

Case 2

Imagine another situation where you connect people with each other in the context of an unknown and allow them to build knowledge based on a mutual commitment they have.

No carrots, gold biscuits or credits. Just the connection.

QuaLity (very subjective) of knowledge or synthesized content (if any) that comes out from Case 2 is invariably higher than what comes out of Case 1.

QuaNTity that comes from just adopting Case 1 is way higher than Case 2.

Is this a TRIZ contradiction or what…open the contradiction matrix please

Parameter we want to improve is Production Spec/Quality/Means

Explanation: intended to be general in terms of quality of what is produced, and means by which it is achieved, can be both tangible and intangible

Parameter that worsens is Amount of Information

Explanation: though not needed some synonyms might help knowledge, memory, volume, archive, library, repository, search. Actually even antonyms are ok in TRIZ.

TRIZ Principles that are identified for the contradiction are

13 Other way around

Invert actions used

Make movable parts fixed or fixed part moving

Turn System process object upside down

32 Colour Changes

Change colour of object/environment

Change transparency of system or environment

15 Dynamization

Allow system characteristics to change to be optimal or find an optimal operating condition

Divide systems into part capable of movement relative to each other

Make system movable, flexible

23 Feedback

Introduce feedback

If already used change magnitude or influence

24 Intermediary

Use an intermediary carrier article or process

18 Resonance

Find resonant frequency

Ideas on the contradiction stated are now flowing from the TRIZ principles,…coming up soon