A Comparison: Triads & TRIZ: Three Objects Comprise a Phenomenon

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Submitted by James F. Kowalick at April 25, 1998 klockan 08:09:37:

Question: What three objects are required for the phenomenon we call "sitting" to occur? For sure, there is something like a CHAIR, and there is a PERSON. One of these objects is the ACTIVE OBJECT, and the other is the PASSIVE OBJECT. The CHAIR is the ACTIVE OBJECT, because it does something to the PERSON. "CHAIR SUPPORTS PERSON," or, if we want to think more scientifically, we can say that "CHAIR PUSHES-UP ON PERSON." Before this occurred, the PERSON could not sit. Perhaps he was tired, and desired to sit. But he could not sit, unless there was something to support him - something to act against the gravity forces that tended to pull him down to the surface of the earth, or the floor. That "something" is the CHAIR. So, in this instance, the CHAIR is the ACTIVE OBJECT and the PERSON is the PASSIVE OBJECT that got "changed" or "modified" in some way (the PERSON got "supported" by the CHAIR). But the CHAIR and the PERSON could never come together in a manner that is like "sitting," unless there is a third object involved. That third object is the ENABLING OBJECT. It is called the ENABLING OBJECT because it "enables" the CHAIR and the PERSON to come together in a manner that we call "sitting." What is that ENABLING OBJECT? You say "Gravity," but Gravity is not an object. The third object - the ENABLING OBJECT - is the EARTH itself. Without the presence of the earth, along with the CHAIR and the PERSON, sitting will not occur as we know it. This can be verified by re-locating the CHAIR and the PERSON to outer space, far from the influence of the EARTH. Sitting will not occur here, even though the CHAIR and the PERSON are present. These three objects: ACTIVE, PASSIVE and ENABLING, form a triad. The necessary requirement for a phenomenon to become manifest, is that there has to be a triad. For the case of sitting, we have three objects: the CHAIR, the PERSON and the EARTH. Question: Do these objects interact with each other? Yes, of course, the CHAIR certainly interacts with the PERSON, in a way that we describe as "CHAIR SUPPORTS PERSON" or "CHAIR PUSHES-ON PERSON." What about the PERSON and the EARTH? Do they interact, and if so, how? Yes, they do interact in a way described as "EARTH PULLS PERSON" or, "EARTH ATTRACTS PERSON." Such "attraction" we usually refer to as "gravitational." What about the CHAIR and the EARTH? Do they interact, and if so, how? Yes, the EARTH interacts with the CHAIR in a manner described as "EARTH SUPPORTS CHAIR," or, "EARTH PUSHES-ON CHAIR." But what if the CHAIR is not really directly "on" the EARTH? What if it is really on floor in a house? It's practically the same thing! For all practical purposes, the floor of the house is considered to be a part of the surface of the EARTH. Consider what was already stated: The EARTH supports the CHAIR. The CHAIR supports the PERSON. And, the EARTH attracts the PERSON. These three interactions create the phenomenon called sitting. Could this idea about "Triads" be a "law?" Could it be that all phenomena require three such elements in order to happen or manifest? And how is this different from an "S-Field?" In the above discussion, there were really three of what TRIZ calls "S-Fields." Let's try this "Triads" idea out on other phenomenon, like "Cleaning teeth with a toothbrush."

The toothbrush is a "system" (or object) for cleaning teeth. The teeth represent the "object" being cleaned. So, using the above terminology, the teeth must be the passive object, and the toothbrush "system" is the active object. The interaction is TOOTHBRUSH CLEANS TEETH. But we are told that this will not occur, unless there is a third object to . . . . to do what? To do what is necessary to bring the toothbrush and the teeth together in a manner that represents "cleaning teeth." What is this third, "enabling" object that is required to bring the toothbrush and the teeth together in a way that represents "cleaning?" The answer: It is another system: the "enabling" system (i.e., the "enabling" object). This object or "system" is a "human being." Without the human being (for the process being discussed), there would be no cleaning. And so, once again, we have three objects that were required in order to create a phenomenon - the phenomenon called "teeth being cleaned."

It is not always easy to identify the three objects or elements of a triad. Often the enabling element is "Psychologically Invisible," meaning that we cannot mentally visualize what it could be. There is a certain methodology that is necessary in order to see various phenomena as "triads." It takes a lot of practice. But the language of "triads" is a very high-level language. The higher the level of the problem-solving language that is used, in solving a problem, the more rapid and the higher the level of the solution. And there are other advantages to using the symbolic language of "triads." A triad can be decomposed into steps that represent a process. Thinking deeply about this matter, will explain the nature of the periodic table of the chemical elements. And it will explain the nature of other scientific phenomena that have been previously unexplained. There are different languages that are used in problem-solving. One of the lowest levels of problem-solving "languages" is the "language of words." Using this language alone, to solve problems, is quite limiting - even though this is the language we use when we apply so-called "logical thinking" to a problem. But "words" can only take us so far. There are higher languages that explain very much, in a very short time, like the language of charts and tables and graphs. Engineers and scientists often use this language. But there is an even higher, more powerful language (higher and more powerful, because it is more "generic" in nature). That higher and more powerful language is the "language of symbols." This brief discussion on triads was intended to present the idea that life does not stop with TRIZ. There is a saying that "We cannot see the forest through the TRIZ."


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