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5.1.2. TRIZ Principles: Harm
In TRIZ, functions are either useful and hence desirable, or they are harmful. This is a slightly different use of the word ‘harm’ to normal English usage as it does not imply that anyone is hurt, simply that net value is adversely affected and that the harm should be eliminated as far as is possible. All financial costs are considered as harmful, as are things which cost in different ways, such as taking up time or causing people anxiety of any form.
Just as there are primary useful functions, there are also primary harmful functions, which are the main undesirable factors and hence become the first targets for removal.
Harmful functions are often unintentionally caused as a side effect of useful functions, and may be identified by looking at causal relationships, as described in Chapter 1.
For physical contractions in particular, separation in time, space or scale often works. The blacksmith’s tongs use separation in space, which could be reduced with protective gloves. You could also change the ‘scale’ of the working hands by using a large machine which can form the horseshoe quickly and easily.
When we do change the solution, it is a good idea to check that we have not
created more harmful contractions (for example, ‘How is the desirable function
of ‘being able to withstand rough treatment’ affected?’).
Other sections in this chapter: