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Inventive principle segmentation in daily life problem solving

Divide to enrich the whole

Common sense says, if you divide something into smaller pieces, value of all the pieces taken together gets reduced. On second thoughts, can it be otherwise? Yes, it can. Segmentation, one of the most powerful inventive principles of the systematic innovation system of TRIZ states,

Segment or divide suitable something into still smaller pieces and get a totally new highly valuable piece of innovation.


No single problem solving or inventive principle can be applied in every problem situation. Same is true for the inventive principle of segmentation. We have to segment something suitable that will result in highly valuable new result. Not everything is suitable for segmentation.

We cannot segment our large living room into smaller pieces of individual walled off spaces and increase the living room value or we cannot divide the deep joy of six days of continuous stay at Panchmari, the queen of hill stations in India, by moving from one tourist place to another six times and be happier.

Thinking at different levels or dimensions physically

While segmenting, you may segment something; physical presence-wise: micro or individual, group or macro or local and global.

Segmenting something physical at different levels

  • Segment at individual level: segment space in a room to convert it to a classroom and earn from an altogether different use of the room.
  • Segment at group or local level: Segment a large plot of land into blocks and put the blocks into different uses - ultimately you get a high paying housing estate.
  • Segment at a large or global level: Divide a country and conquer it. It was done with great innovation in the past, though to the advantage to primarily the segmenting agent.

Segmenting your grief or load, and sharing - segmenting negativity

What about dividing a piece of something of negative value such as your worry into smaller pieces and distribute it among multiple willing takers? The takers will have their own negative valued pieces, but won't probably mind having a little piece of extra one. Bearing the burden of a great worry is now shared by many. It becomes bearable.

  1. Divide and Share the load you are carrying in right hand between the two hands: this is segmentation and distribution of segmented pieces at a very close level. We may call it micro or individual level segmentation and sharing.
  2. Segment and Share your grief locally among groups nearby: Two principles come into play, principle of segmentation and principle of sharing. Sharing is a kind of distribution among willing people or agents. We are thinking of distributing the negative valued pieces among a group of individuals near you. They may be your family members or may be your close friends. That is the local or nearby group level sharing.
  3. Segment and Share your worry globally - broadcast mode: Waking up in the morning just introduce your worry into your Facebook consciousness stream and forget about your great worry altogether. Friends world over will now share your burden, you know.

So what did we do? We have combined the principle of segmentation with principle of sharing and also with levels of sharing and examined the possibilities of the combinations.

Inventive Principle of Composite

You are basically merging three concepts together and examining your problem from the merged concept standpoint. It seems this is a very powerful way of thinking with lots of new possibilities. Using the concept of another powerful TRIZ principle number 40: Principle of Composite, we would name this way of thinking as composite thinking.

Principle of composite is a little different from principle of merging. Composite is a type of merging but the components are different or dissimilar whereas in principle of merging components are similar in nature.

Inventive applications of Segmentation

Segmenting at the macro level

  • The water jet from a fire fighter's hose damages the things and also is not so effective. Segment the water jet into water droplets: damage decreases and effectiveness of the jet in putting out the fire increases.
  • Think of the sprinkler in your garden. If you watered the plants from a single stream of water, watering would have been much less effective than using a sprinkler where the single stream is segmented into thin much smaller streams.
  • Segmenting a single stream of water creates again a useful and comfortable system of the common sprinkler shower in your bathroom.

Segmenting at the micro level

  • Segment the fire fighting water jet into a spray of mist: it does practically no harm to the object on fire and surprisingly is more effective in fighting the fire. This is not though the end of segmenting a water jet to create innovative applications.

Segmenting at sub-micro level

Nowadays high pressure water jets are being used for environment friendly precision cutting of sheets of steel and other hard materials. The use of segmentation has produced a totally novel and gainful way of cutting solids. It is an example of extreme segmentation.

Case example - applying segmentation in daily life situation

Waking up late in the morning you discover that you have to go to the market immediately to replenish the fish stock.

Local fish market consists of a few fish sellers sitting on the side of the road. This is a temporary and daily arrangement. Reaching there you feel lucky to find the very first fish seller having ample quantity of small fishes of the type you wanted. You purchase a large lot and he starts cleaning and preparing the clutch of small fishes. It is a rather lengthy process. You wait patiently. Gradually more buyers - an elderly gentleman and a lady with a kid appear. In a few minutes, the fish seller gather and weigh the fish they wanted. Now these are to be prepared. Though their purchases are small, they would have to wait for quite a bit of time.

Defining this new situation as a problem is optional for you. You could have taken it as a problem or ignored it altogether because you are the first in the queue and have your rights of making others wait behind you.

Taking a positive stance you choose to define the situation as a problem.

Your immediate instruction to the fish seller is:

  1. "Stop preparing my lot and take up the job of the elderly gentleman."
  2. "Finish it and then take up my job again."
  3. "But after 5 minutes, stop my job and take up the job of the lady."
  4. "Finishing her job, take up my job again and finish it. Do not entertain any other job in between."

Busy fish market

There are faint smiles from the buyers and initial hesitation from the seller - not everyday one comes across such an odd situation. But after a few moments, the job is taken up as you intended.

The buyers finally leave with seemingly happier faces. Even the fish seller seems to be happy. You had to wait 10 minutes extra.

You acted on instinct, but while waiting you went on to analyze your possible course of actions.

What did you do? you segmented. What did you segment? You segmented your servicing time and distributed (or shared) a few segments to the other buyers.

Conversely, you segmented the total waiting time and yourself shared some amount of waiting time of the two other buyers. Either way the net result was reducing the negative effect of waiting for the two other buyers and marginal increase in your own waiting time.

For you, waiting for 10 more minutes was acceptable, more so when you were sure to feel the positive feeling of the elderly gentleman and the lady with a kid. Their positive feeling you shared. That compensated for your cost of waiting time. It was finally gainful for all.

Segment a negative aspect belonging to someone else and share it; or segment a positive something that is yours and share it. You will see unexpected positive events happening around you.

Segmenting something of positive value

At first thought it may seem segmenting something of positive value should result in a loss. You may not like to segment your large living room into smaller rooms, or you may not like to divide your wealth and distribute it among the poor of the world.

Segmenting daily meal

We are used to having two large meals during noon and evening and a smaller meal as breakfast in the morning. This is usual for most of us. Contrary to this common practice, if you break up the meals into smaller meals and spread it into six meals a day, your may lose your extra weight without any problem and also improve your general health. This is the advice of many dieticians for weight loss by just changing the eating habit.

Segmenting what you love to do - your hobby

If you love to read novels and go on reading novels for days, you would possibly lose interest in novels in a few days. Rather you may like to spilt your favorite activity over time in suitably spaced intervals.

This is true for anything that you find very attractive and want to experience. Thus arises the truth,

To sustain pleasure, taste the great food in little chunks and at as long intervals as possible.

Segment your wealth and share

We address here common people like you and me. If we can define what we really need, we would generally find some of our wealth to be excess that can be suitably split and shared with people who desperately need help.

Goodness of segmenting and sharing your wealth invariably is reflected back to you, with general increase in positivity in the environment.