Situation: A UK division of Mars Inc., hired us to help it develop a next-generation coffee brewer for office use. The new product would have to dramatically outperform its competitors in a tight and demanding market.

Actions: First, we trained a team of the company’s technologists in the fundamentals of TRIZ. Then, jointly with the team, we assessed a complex and interconnected set of issues dealing with consumers, competitors and the trade. We then examined the current dominant product technology and its development potential. Using our methodology of guided technology evolution, we identified the most promising directions for the evolution of the customer’s product as well as for those of its competitors. This allowed us to discover the underlying key conflicts that needed to be resolved in order to achieve breakthrough results. We then used the TRIZ tools that were introduced during the training phase, to resolve these conflicts and to develop novel and cost-conscious design solutions. We also helped the company to analytically validate some of these solutions, as well as to build and test prototypes.

Results: In the words of one of the company’s managers, The TRIZ Group “has helped my company solve a number of previously `impossible´ problems.” Six solutions, considered by the company as radical innovations, were internationally patent-protected and incorporated into a unique coffee brewing system that delivers coffee shop quality across a complete cafe menu (see