Sunday, November 13, 2011

Solving dilemmas: Odysseus and the Sirens. [Separation in Time]

Last time we considered the dilemma Odysseus encounters when he approaches the island where the three Sirens live:
[Odysseus]... faces a dilemma. On one hand, he wants to listen to the Sirens' song because it is the most beautiful song in the world. On the other hand, he doesn't want to hear the song because it will cause him to forget himself and run his ship into deadly rocks.
In Homer's poem, Odysseus resolves the dilemma in space (see my earlier post). The obvious downside of his solution is that his crew did not get to hear the Sirens' song. That is, only Odysseus tied to the mast experiences it.

Another important TRIZ principle for solving dilemmas is Separation in Time. To get the best of both worlds, i.e. experience the song and not crash the ship on the rocks, everybody on the ship sails safely during the time of the song (Time 1) AND listens to the song when the ship is out of danger (Time 2.)

In other words, while they sail near the Sirens' island, all crew including Odysseus have their ears plugged so that the beautiful song does not distract them from steering the ship safely. As the result, everybody survives the encounter. But how will they hear the beautiful song of the Sirens? By listening to it later, e.g. by having the song recorded during the encounter and playing it back at the crew's convenience.

Of course, audio/video recording was not available at the Odysseus time, but it doesn't mean we should discount the possibility of applying the Separation in Time principle. After all, TiVo and other time-shifting devices are all based on this idea.

tags: triz, separation, problem, solution, example

No comments: