TRIZ System Operator, a tool for innovation
TRIZ is a set of methods to foster innovation. It was invented at the end of the 20th century by a Russian Engineer who wanted to promote tools to create new patents for industrial success.
The System operator is one of the tools of TRIZ. It provides a thinking framework to design objects of the future based on how they evolved from the past till nowadays.
The system operator is a quadrant divided into 3 columns and 3 rows, forming 9 windows. The system operator is also known as the 9-field matrix.
To use the 9-field operator you choose an object to be improved. In the case of the illustration above it is the laptop.
The current system to be improved is chosen and placed in the middle of the 9-field matrix. Dismantle your system in components and put the performance determining subsystem in the lower middle field. Now determine the environment of your system and write the things that can be found there in the upper middlebox. In our example, the supersystem of the laptop is the communication network and the subsystem is the motherboard.
Then, investigate the past: How did the system, subsystem, and super-system look like before (e.g. 10–20 years back)? In the example, the system is one of the first personal computers. The supersystem allowing the communication is a 56k modem. The subsystem is a motherboard that allowed very few extensions.
In a third step try to imagine how the respective components could look like in the future! Start from the supersystem and subsystem and then condense the future system! In our example, the super system allowing the communication is transformed from a modem to a network supported by a satellite and the subsystem proposed is grid computing supported by Quantum computers.
The innovation proposed for a laptop computer is a wearable computer connected to a satellite network to travel anywhere. Its computing power is supported not by its motherboard but by a distributed grid of computational power!