By Maksym Babych, founder and CEO of SpdLoad, the software development company for startups.
There are many different frameworks for finding a product or startup idea. In this article, I’d like to discuss one framework you probably haven’t heard of and also talk about a counterintuitive way to find ideas.
TRIZ And TIPS
The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving—TIPS, or the Russian TRIZ—is a set of methods for solving and improving problems by finding and resolving contradictions.
The idea is that the same methods can solve different technical problems and contradictions.
To solve a particular problem, TIPS users first reduce the problem to a generalized form. Then they try to solve the generalized problem with a suitable general method. Only then do they return to the particular situation and try to apply the solution found to it.
Simply put, the theory is based on the hypothesis that whatever problem a person is facing, someone, some time and somewhere, has already found a solution and dealt with it. Let’s take a look at an example.
In the past, people had to call and talk to an operator to order food delivery from their favorite pizzeria. It was sometimes impossible to get through, especially on a Friday. The contradiction is that one operator cannot take more than a certain number of calls.
The solution seems obvious: Use an extra operator to distribute the load. That’s what restaurants have done. But really, the ideal result would be no operators and the ability to do the ordering yourself. Over time, someone looked at the problem of restaurants and developed apps for ordering and delivering food.
You haven’t heard of TIPS simply because it was developed by a Soviet engineer, Genrich Altshuller. But with the collapse of the USSR, some famous brands began to implement a similar approach. Samsung is a good example of this.
Using The Tips Approach For Your Startup
One of the fundamental laws of TRIZ states that an ideal system is a system that does not exist but performs its functions.
You might think that in this sentence, I would say something like, “You need to think about how to reduce the product’s features but provide more value.” But that’s not where I’m going with this.
The exciting thing is that most successful products don’t reduce the number of features, but rather increase them, which is contrary to the ideal system. So what’s the way to go?
The product has evolved to reduce the time it takes to use it.
In other words, in the first versions of the product, the user had to spend a conditional hour to get a result. In the second version, it’s just 10 minutes. And in the third version, you could do nothing and still get results because of the AI.
It makes a product ideal from the customer’s perspective, as they don’t spend time on it, but the function is still performed. At the same time, such an approach doesn’t work for time-killer products: TikTok, Netflix, Instagram, etc.
But insightful or not, there is another side to using TIPS for your startup.
Finding Problems With Known Solutions
Another interesting point is that TRIZ is about solving problems, but a startup is about finding problems to solve. So you can try to use the TIPS method in a mirrored way and start from the end: find a known solution and apply it to a new or unsolved problem.
The fast and cheap method of minimum viable product development is something you can leverage for quick idea validation. Is there an example? Tesla didn’t invent modern electric cars, but it offers them as a solution to the global energy crisis and environmental pollution.