Tuesday, 14 December 2010

What is a contradiction?

There are many ways of creating a contradiction. In Southbeach, there are four simple types, well known to practitioners of TRIZ. They are:

1. Something useful produces something harmful
2. Something useful counteracts something useful
3. Something harmful produces something useful
4. Something harmful counteracts something harmful

In cases 1 and 2, when you try to increase the useful element, there is a harmful side effect. In cases 3 and 4, when you try to reduce the harmful element, there is another harmful side effect. In case 3, less of something useful and in case 4, less ability to counteract something also harmful in the situation. It is sometimes hard to spot contradictions. Take a look at case 3. Something useful is being created, so the color of the effect line is green. However, we want to reduce the harmful element or remove it altogether. We therefore are minimising the useful production.

These four simple contradictions are the basic situations that must be solved, if a situation is to improve. Revealing the contradictions in a situation is central to problem solving.

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