Eco-innovation. Good idea, but how? This article introduces the EcaTRIZ method, which allows you to include an eco-innovation approach at the beginning of ideation sessions. The innovative products that you create will help the planet breathe easier
Eco-innovation is an important strategic lever to help businesses maintain and improve their competitive edge. Now included in innovation processes, this environmental approach can lead to environmental advancements that support the sustainable development objectives that numerous countries have established.
This article was inspired by research into how to develop an approach for using and adapting tools designed to spark eco-innovative solutions. The purpose of this approach is to encourage users and businesses to adopt these tools.
The approach is based on a simplified assessment of environmental impacts and takes into consideration both the user and an overall, multi-criteria analysis. A key component of the approach is a simplified assessment matrix, which is derived from the TRIZ problem-resolution method.
The TRIZ Principle
TRIZ is a Russian acronym that means “theory of inventive problem solving.” This method was developed after a large number of patents were studied and numerous defining “invention patterns” were identified across all fields. The patterns are divided into catalogues so that inventors consult them in the hopes of finding solutions that might not have come to mind otherwise.
The decision was made to adapt TRIZ to this process after frequent contradictory results were obtained when performing environmental impact assessments. For example, the apparent solution to a problem might be to increase rigidity while reducing weight, two factors that seem contradictory at first since, in many cases, weight reduction requires thinning materials and, thus, reduce product stiffness.
EcaTRIZ can be used by anyone performing eco-design work for businesses: marketing managers, R&D, design offices, designers, purchasers, environmental management professionals, communications specialists, etc.
EcaTRIZ was designed to be used during ideation sessions. It makes it possible to find eco-innovative ideas that comply with sustainable development principles. The ideas that are generated can then be used to design an eco-innovation.
You don’t have to know anything about TRIZ to apply the EcaTRIZ method. However, using this eco-innovation method can help familiarize you with TRIZ.
The eco-innovation process
EcaTRIZ encompasses four environmental strategies or parameters that must be considered, without exception:
- Resource and material consumption
- Energy consumption
- Harmful releases production
- Eco-design appropriation
In addition to these strategies, EcaTRIZ takes into consideration eight product parameters:
- Ease of use
Thus, the result is an 8 X 4 contradiction matrix. It provides users with quick access to the appropriate eco-innovation principles without requiring them to describe the problem’s technical parameters. This matrix is inspired by the 39 X 39 TRIZ contradiction matrix.
The results obtained from using the EcaTRIZ matrix are summarized in the form of a brainstorming guide for producing eco-innovative designs.
EcaTRIZ can be integrated into business’ design processes. This method can facilitate the design of eco-innovative products and add value to commercial products.
Results were verified by applying EcaTRIZ to various published eco-design patents and examining projects conducted by teams of students searching for solutions to the challenges presented during an international competition called “The 24 Hours of Innovation.”
In the technology field, the TRIZ theory has proven useful for finding solutions to complex problems without resorting to compromises. Through the analysis of patents, it has been demonstrated statistically that the same principles are often used to resolve different contradictions. Using the TRIZ approach, we also successfully demonstrated that what is true in technology is also true in the field of ecology with the EcaTRIZ method.
More complete information on the EcaTRIZ innovation method is available in Ahmed Chérifi’s PhD thesis named (in french):
“Contribution à la recherche d’outils de mise en place d’une démarche d’éco-conception au sein des entreprises pour une meilleure appropriation“.
The link will be provided as soon as it is published
The next article on this topic will include a methodological guide describing how to use the EcaTRIZ method to generate eco-innovative solutions during ideation sessions.
Sustainable development and eco-design as part of innovation management.
Other articles of interest on related topics
An International Summer School on Innovation and Technological Design at ÉTS!
How to enhance team creativity for the 24 hours of innovation challenge!
Big Data and creativity
A Creativity Guide for Short Ideation Sessions
24 Hours of Innovation at ÉTS: Tunisian teams step up to the challenge!
Rehabilitation of the Former Dow Planetarium: From Creativity to Innovation
Ahmed Chérifi holds a Ph.D. in Engineering from the department of Automated Manufacturing at ÉTS. He specializes in sustainable development and eco-design as part of innovation management.
Research laboratories : NUMERIX – Organizational Engineering Research Laboratory for the Digital Enterprise