Contradictions and management methodologies (WUMM abbreviates the German “Widersprüche und Managementmethoden”) is in our view the core of the implementation of TRIZ (Teoria Reschenija Isobretatjelskich Sadatsch), the theory of solving invention problems of the Russian invention researcher Genrich Saulowitsch Altshuller, who worked over 50 years on such questions, especially based on patent searches. However, WUMM goes beyond this approach and focuses on complex innovation and management scenarios in companies.
While Altshuller’s considerations are directed more on solving technical problems and thus to possible technical solution the WUMM approach concentrates on the broader scope of practical innovation challenges to the management of internal processes.
In doing so, terminological shifts and clarifications already made during the last 50 years have to be considered. Altshuller’s foundation are patents that refer to inventions only, not to discoveries. Nevertheless, concrete discoveries also play a major role in Altshuller’s texts. A theoretical distinction between these two concepts, which is practically tied to the question of patentability, has been tried many times. However, an unbiased analysis of these attempts shows that they arise, above all, from different epistemic understandings of the cognitive process itself:
Discoveries are part of an academic cognitive process in which referencability, connectivity, and cooperative review processes are at the forefront. The conditions for such a “standing on the shoulders of giants, which also allows dwarfs to look a little further”, have improved with the networking possibilities of the digital change once again by orders of magnitude.
Inventions are part of the economic-practical design process of the “Metabolism with Nature”, in which an appropriate appreciation of the use of economic resources has to be ensured.
However, in the first case, too, considerable expenditure is required (for example, for the construction and operation of major research facilities such as the LHC where the Higgs boson was discovered), while in the latter case the legal protection of such intellectual property rights becomes a veritable obstacle to the progression of the cognitive process.
Also, a hard distinction between discoveries and inventions is no longer timely, because it has become more evident that the economic-practical implementation of new problem-solving approaches based on advancing technological development is a multi-dimensional practical process involving concrete discoveries and inventions with planned development are closely interlinked with material and personnel innovation potential as well as the facilitation and design of corresponding innovation processes. In the transfer and further development of Altshuller’s contradictory approaches, especially in this area, we expect a significant advance of management approaches as a whole.
TRIZ is an important attempt to make innovative doing talkable. Various practical experiences with this methodology were collected in the GDR inventor schools, analyzed and extended to socio-technical contradictions. These developments, which have always been suspiciously eyed by the leading ideologues of the GDR, are part of practical experiences of socio-technical management at the lower level of GDR trust structures (Kombinate), which in many respects were organized and operated like corporations. Hansjürgen Linde’s dissertation 1988 at TU Dresden and his “contradiction-oriented innovation strategies” (WOIS) was one of the early attempt to systematically summarize these approaches. Another approach – ProHEAL (“Programm zur Herausarbeitung von Erfindungen und Lösungen”, Program for the Elaboration of Inventions and Solutions) – by Hans-Joachim Rindfleisch and Rainer Thiel was developed at the same time in parallel and has many overlap with Linde’s methodological approach (to be honest: both were developed in tight cooperation with Rainer Thiel, one of the reviewers of Linde’s thesis, as linking edge).
With CMMI and ISO/IEC 15504, maturity models for the evaluation of entrepreneurial management structures have been established in the field of software development, which can also be transferred to other areas of industrial production with a high proportion of creative work in project-like structures. The design of the high maturity levels 4 (quantitaviely managed) and 5 (optimizing), which are based on the collection of appropriate process indicators (maturity level 3), has undergone significant modifications in recent years. Here, too, the importance of uncovering and processing contradictions in error, change and innovation management became apparent.
As in TRIZ and WOIS, WUMM focuses on the dialectical approach to such contradictions. Unlike WOIS that has protected their own approaches through trademark rights thus constituting a closed world, and other TRIZ communities with similar closure approaches, WUMM stand on the position of Open Culture. One of its main goals is to make available a substantial stock of TRIZ material, texts and tools under the terms of the Apache 2.0 license. In particular, we concentrate on making available the ProHEAL methodology on such a basis.