The Ideal Final Result: Tutorial

by Ellen Domb, Ph.D.
The PQR Group, 190 N. Mountain Ave.
Upland, CA 91786 USA
(909) 949-0857 FAX (909)949-2968
e-mail: EllenDomb@compuserve.com

All the methodologies for teaching TRIZ agree that the technical problem must be well-defined before any of the technical tools of TRIZ are applied.

Three primary activities for problem analysis and definition are Formulate the Ideal Final Result
Functional Analysis and Trimming
Finding the Zones of the Problem

The Ideal Final Result (abbreviated IFR) is an implementation-free description of the situation after the problem has been solved. It focuses on customer needs or functions needed, not the current process or equipment. The goal of formulating the IFR is to eliminate rework ( solve the right problem the first time!) by addressing the root cause of the problem or customer need. The IFR helps you reach breakthrough solutions by thinking about the solution, not the intervening problems.

A basic principle of TRIZ is that systems evolve towards increased ideality, where ideality is defined as
Ideality =S Benefits / (S Costs + S Harm)

Evolution is in the direction of

Increasing benefits
Decreasing costs
Decreasing harm

The extreme result of this evolution is the Ideal Final Result:
It has all the benefits, none of the harm, and none of the costs of the original problem. The Ideal Final Result describes the solution to a technical problem, independent of the mechanism or constraints of the original problem. The ideal system occupies no space, has no weight, requires no labor, requires no maintenance. The ideal system delivers benefit without harm.

The IFR has the following 4 characteristics:

1. Eliminates the deficencies of the original system
2. Preserves the advantages of the original system
3. Does not make the system more complicated (uses free or available resources.)
4. Does not introduce new disadvantages

When you formulate your IFR, you can check it against all 4 characteristics, and check it against the equation for increasing ideality.

Example: Consider the power lawnmower as a tool, and the lawn as the object to be cut. The lawnmower is noisy, uses fuel, requires human time and energy, produces air pollution, throws out debris that can endanger children or pets (or the legs of the person pushing it), and is difficult to maintain. If our job is “improve the lawnmower” we could immediately set up and prioritize solutions for a number of TRIZ problems to improve fuel usage, reduce noise, improve safety, etc. But, if we define the Ideal Final Result, we can get a much better perspective on the future of the lawnmower, and the lawn care industry.

What does the customer want? Whenever I ask this question, I get the same answer–the customer wants nice looking grass with no problems. The machine itself is not part of the desired solution. It should come as no surprise to find out that at least 2 companies that make lawnmowers are experimenting with “smart grass seed”–grass that is genetically engineered to grow to an attractive lenghth, then stop growing.

Suppose your assignment is not quite so global as planning the future of the whole lawnmower industry. Can you still benefit from the IFR? Yes! To continue with the lawnmower example, if your assignment is to reduce the noise, what is the IFR? It is a quiet lawnmower.

What is the difference between “less noisy” and “quiet?” To reduce noise, most engineers add baffling, add dampers, muffle the noise, or in other ways add parts, thereby adding complexity and reducing reliability. To make the lawnmower quiet, the designer has to look at the sources of noise, and remove them. This will make the lawnmower more efficient as well as achieving the original objective of less noise, since noisy engines are inefficient, noise from vibration wastes energy, etc.

The IFR is a psychological tool that orients you to the use of the technical tools. Formulating the IFR helps you look at the constraints of the problem, and consider which constraints are required by the laws of nature, and which are self-imposed (but we’ve always done it that way!) You may choose to accept the constraints in solving your problem, but at least you are then conscious of the choices. For example, in the “quiet lawnmower” case, we can choose to continue using metal cutting blades, accepting the maintenance and safety problems, but we replace the gasoline engine with an electric motor to eliminate the most significant source of noise.

Start your problem solving by formulating the Ideal Final Result. It will help you

>Encourage breakthrough thinking
>Inhibit moves to less ideal solutions (reject compromises)
>Lead to the discussions that will clearly establish the boundaries of the project.

The IFR will position you to use the technical tools of TRIZ effectively in solving the right problem.