Sharing a TRIZ problem-solving tool called DTC Operator.
This tool comes from this great book called TRIZICS by Gordon Cameron. I bought it many years ago while trying to learn more about TRIZ and problem-solving. And many of the tools are very pragmatic and very helpful.
Identify ways to create more robust conversations amongst your team, break stuckness in thinking, and continue developing conversations that will support the emergence of new ideas and innovation inside your team or group.
I built this out on Mural; you can download the Innovation DTC operator Mural template here.
DTC stands for Dimension, Time, and Cost.
The ideas are that it’s a tool for seeing problems differently and exploring ideas of extremes in size and costs.
It can work to release psychological inertia.
Here is a link to a PDF that walks through eight common causes of stuckness in thinking or team development.
You walk through the algorithm, find the problem, run into the extremes, and gather feedback.
Now, it’s important here in this process to include your team. You can do this by yourself. That’s fine. It’s helpful to engage your team in a conversation about the challenge. And the more you engage a team in conversations, the more we learn together, create team effectiveness, and drive solutions. Additionally, if you’re a manager or project lead, a team, lead whatever you are, you’ll hear new ideas for psychological safety and teams to develop.
They must discuss ideas together. The more they discuss, the more they’ll find better solutions.
The first process is to identify the problem or the challenge. Generally, DTC Operator is set up for more technical problems.
I used it in the example here with a team – I was working with to identify how to create a learning and development program across a whole organization.
We identify the problem.
The next step is you go into the actual flow itself.
We go into dimensions. D for dimensions.
If the dimensions were huge, what would success look like? How would that happen?
In what ways could that system be developed?
You’ll see here the team dealt with two different ideas.
The second part of dimensions.
If the dimensions were tiny if they were small, what would success look like? How would that happen?
In what ways could that system be developed?
And again, the small team identified two simple steps to think about: what would we do if it was minimal, only a few people?
Next step, we went into time.
If time were extremely long, what would success look like? How would that happen? In what ways could that system be developed?
Or if speed were extremely slow, what would success look like? How would that happen? And in what ways could that system be developed?
Looking here, we thought it if we slowed down time and had a long time frame to make this happen.
Decades, millennia, a more extended time.
How does it change the process?
What would it look like? About a short time frame?
You have seconds, hours, days, and minutes.
What would that do?
If costs are not just in terms of dollars and cents or horrible downsides, we’re incredibly abundant; what would success look like? How would that happen? In what ways can the system be developed?
Meaning if we had a lot of money, if there was no barrier to the cost, what could we do? If we had exorbitant funds, what could happen?
What would we do if costs were minimal, meaning we only had little money and revenue?
They came up with, in summary, what dimension, time, and cost operator does. DTC operator creates a framework, a way for you and your team to say here’s our problem or the challenge we’re working on.
Let’s talk about it.
By first identifying a challenge or problem, you’re creating coherence or coherent language around what you want to work on and what to focus on.
What are you trying to accomplish?
And then, with your team working through these three ideas. Dimensions are immense, or time is minimal. Time, a whole lot of time. Time moves very slowly or not very much time. Time moves very fast. Costs – We have a whole bunch of money to do things. We have little money to do something.
Each of these steps will create different discussions and break people’s existing paradigms of thinking.
And when you break the paradigm of thinking, you come up with new ways to solve things.
When I share this with teams, often, folks enjoy the activity. They posted those things up there. They use Mural. They do it face to face. That’s great.
The next step is what do we do with these ideas?
And that’s a question for you to figure out. Once your team has broken its stuck thinking, created broader ideas, and had a rich conversation to solve challenging problems, what you do next is what matters.
DTC Operator happens, now what?
- You go through a problem shared.
- You look at Dimensions really big, tiny. Time is fast and slow and Costs lots of money, little money.
- And from those variations, you pull the team back together and say all right, so we solved the dimensions, time, and costs.
- We had a great discussion about how to go about this problem.
- Now that we’ve had that discussion, what do we want to do differently, and how will we identify what is different when we do it?
- Let them think for a while.
- Identify skill sets and developments and ways to solve the problem.
- And then next step would be from the discussion we just had about what to do differently, how we identify things, what success might look like. Choose an action to do.
- Create a series of small safe-to-fail experiments where individuals or small teams of two or three people try things in consistency or coherence with each other to impact the challenge.
- You want to see a solution and learn.
- Team A-B-C and D work independently based on their DTC feedback to make progress on the challenge.
- And as they’re doing this, you pull them back together and talk with them as you figure things out.
- Try the Dimension Time Cost Operator challenge again in the feedback process.
Try it out.
See what happens.