Nine windows is often used in TRIZ (The theory of inventive problem solving) to explore solutions to a problem in a context of past present and future. Exploring the solution as a system is vital in breaking psychological constipation.

Team Building Leadership Innovation Michael Cardus

Using nine windows serves us in discovering solutions by understanding the problem in the context of the past, present and future along with exploring the problem in the Super-System, current System, and Sub-System.

To use nine windows write the problem or current system for solutions in the center of the 3 x 3 matrix. Then explore the center or present problem / system in the;

  • Super-System: External environment and components a problem or system interacts (or may interact) with.
  • System: The problem or system that was created.
  • Sub-System: A component or parts of the problem or system

Once you have explored the problem or system in the present then move on to the Super-System, System, and Sub-System of the past and future. Following exploring all the nine windows we ask;

  • Can we do something at the Sub-System, System, Super-System level in advance to fix the problem or improve the system?
  • Can we do something at the Sub-System, System, Super-System level in the future to fix the problem or improve the system?
  • Can we do something at the Sub-System, System, Super-System level in the present to fix the problem or improve the system?

 

Nine-Windows in human system i.e. team building & leadership, can be used as a planning tool. The item being planned goes in the center box. The Super-System and Sub-System relating to the center, upper and lower boxes. The past and future are planning goals. Each window is reviewed on time-scales to best plan for future solutions and ideal outcomes to ensure that the system, super-system and sub-system develop to achieve the ideal solutions.

 

Example: Plan for an increase in customer satisfaction based upon meeting with client support.

Past Present Future
Super-System Smaller company, Less need for product, Only phones No Internet, Sold-Directly to Customer Organization, Phone System, Internet, Transportation, Buyers, Wholesalers, Suppliers Larger organization, More product offerings, More staff, More customers, Outsourcing much of sales, Global Market
System
Customer phoned or physically came to the location. Meetings are scheduled according to incoming phone calls, emails, on-line contacts for support. Meeting happen “virtually”, more product sold = more incoming calls and contact for support, increased dependence upon “magnet & virtual” staff and locations.
Sub-System phones, typewriters + file cabinets (physical tangible records), Only spoke English, Only US currency Phones, Each persons computer, Personal Relationships, Multiple Languages, Locations Increased storage of records on computers, People who speak multiple languages, Translators, Done on computers

 

Above I have used multiple time-lines you can choose the time-line you want perhaps picking a specific date or just leaving it open to the past and future. Once the nine windows plan is made the team can then plan and explore solutions to increase customer satisfaction with client support specialists. If the company continues to grow and serve more customers on a global scale how can you begin to implement future solutions within the sub-system, system and super-system possible changing how the past, present and future processes are utilized.

    • Can we do something at the Sub-System, System, Super-System level in advance to fix the problem or improve the system?
    • Can we do something at the Sub-System, System, Super-System level in the future to fix the problem or improve the system?
    • Can we do something at the Sub-System, System, Super-System level in the present to fix the problem or improve the system?

 

 

Try Nine-Windows it takes some practice and you will find it valuable exploring solutions for your organization, team and self. Please share thoughts and what quality tools you use in the comments.

 

Interested in learning how to use quality tools to solve problems and increase innovative planning within workplaces? Could  your team benefit from discovering and planning solutions while proactively working to increase efficiencies and profit? Contact Mike… to make your team better.

 

michael cardus is create-learning