Many of you have heard me talk about TRIZ, the Theory of Inventive Problem-Solving. Inside of TRIZ, there are forty principles, things I like to call lenses, and today I want to cover one of them; the lens of Weight Compensation.
The principle of Weight Compensation, or Anti-Weight, is used to solve a problem or improve a product in a number of ways. For example, to compensate for the weight of an object, you can merge it with other objects that provide lift. For example, use helium balloons to support an advertising sign, to elevate it above the ground, or let the balloon itself be the sign.
Another example to compensate for weight of an object is to make it interact with the environment using aerodynamic, hydrodynamic, buoyancy, and other forces. A good example would be a hydrofoil that lifts the ship out of the water to reduce its drag, increase its speed and efficiency.
And of course, the TRIZ lenses don’t have to all be about business. They can be about your personal life and doing things fun, like my friend John Ninomiya. He does cluster balloon rides. Here straps a bunch of helium balloons to himself and flies. Seriously
OK, let’s look at a few more examples of the lens Weight Compensation.
Submarines use the principle of Weight Compensation to float both above and below the water. Subs float because the weight of the displaced water is equal to the weight of the ship. The displaced water creates an upward force known as a buoyant force. Buoyant forces act opposite to gravity, thus keeping the gravity from pulling the craft down.
As with all the TRIZ lenses, you have the license to use the most liberal definition that you like.
The more liberal, the better and the more creative solutions you can come up with.
Companies use the lens of Weight Compensation all the time to move inventory. Slow-moving inventory can be bundled with a hot product, because people want the hot product in the first place, so the slow merchandise add-on adds a perceived value. People feel like they’re getting more and will often pay a higher price for the bundled product even though they probably wouldn’t have purchased the slow merchandise alone.
Here’s an example that I really like. A friend of mine named Phil, when he was in high school, he was seventeen, and he had a car for sale. He listed it in the paper, and he told all his friends about the car, and did all the things that a normal person would do to get the car sold, but he just wasn’t getting any takers.
And at the same time, he had a good looking sister who was a year younger, and all his friends were always bugging him, always hitting him up, trying to say, you know, set me up with your sister. Of course, he wasn’t having anything to do with that. But then he finally put two and two together, and what he did was he put out an offer that said, “If you buy my car, I’ll set you up with my sister for a date.”
So, Phil had never even heard of TRIZ at the time, but he was unconsciously using Weight Compensation. He was taking a hot commodity, his sister, and combining it with something that was dead weight; a car that wouldn’t sell.
So as you can see, the lenses of TRIZ don’t have to be used just to solve technical and engineering problems. They can be used for personal issues, social issues or just about anything where you need some creative solutions.
Here’s another simple example is, in my workshop last year, I had an employee from a small company who was trying to come up with rewards and compensation for their outstanding performers, but they didn’t have a lot of cash incentives. So we brainstormed around using Weight Compensation, what else could they actually do to reward the employees?
Here’s what they did; the employees that got selected for outstanding performance got to have the CEO wash their own car.
Now it didn’t cost the company a thing to do this, but the employees loved it. They got to watch, along with a bunch of other employees out the window, the CEO of the company washing their car. Your boss’s boss’s boss washing your own car was a really cool gift.
The principle of Weight Compensation, like most of the lenses, is not restricted to tangible objects or literal interpretation. For example, consider the difference between salary and profit sharing. Both provide financial benefits, but the two different forms of compensation, each carry a weight. Sometimes a company will want my help, but they can’t afford my consulting fees, for example. When this happens, I often give them the option to forego the salary altogether upfront and instead, give me a percentage of the profit increase in the future.
This is just another example of the application of Weight Compensation.
So how can you make your product or service better by using Weight Compensation, either literally or figuratively?
Use the most liberal definition of Weight Compensation you like. If you do that, you can come up with some really fascinating and exciting ideas.