Understanding TRIZ through the review of top cited publications
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The development of the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) has not followed the usual patterns of scientific validation required by engineering methods. Consequently, its outreach within engineering design is interpreted differently in the scholarly community. At the same time, the claimed powerful support in tackling technical problems of any degree of difficulty conflicts with TRIZ diffusion in industrial settings, which is relatively low according to insights into product development practices. The mismatch between ambitious goals and moderate spill-over benefits in the industry ranges among the various open issues concerning TRIZ, its way of thinking, its effectiveness, the usability of its tools. In order to provide a general overview of TRIZ in science, the authors have attempted to analyse reliable and influential sources from the literature. The performed survey includes the top 100 indexed publications concerning TRIZ, according to the number of received citations. Variegated and poorly interconnected research directions emerge in the abundant literature that tackles TRIZ-related topics. The outcomes of the investigation highlight the successful implementation of TRIZ within, among the others, biomimetics and information processing. The traditional borders of mechanical and industrial engineering have been frequently crossed, as the use of TRIZ is also witnessed in the domain of business and services. At the same time, computer-aided platforms represent diffused attempts to boost TRIZ diffusion and applicability.