TRIZ – Segmentation

Segmentation involves breaking an object into independent parts or fragmenting things; basically, segmentation is a transition to the micro-level.

Segmentation can be accomplished several ways, for example:

1. Dividing an object into independent parts

a. i.e. Breaking down the writing process of a novel into chapter milestones

2. Making an object easy to disassemble

a. i.e. Sectional furniture that separates into parts

3. Increasing the degree of fragmentation or segmentation

a. i.e. Replacing solid shades with mini-blinds

Denim Fads, Firefighting, and Corporate Subsidiaries

What do denim fads, firefighting techniques, and corporate subsidiaries have in common? All are examples of segmentation applications.

Stonewashed Jeans

Stonewashed jeans are an example of segmentation as a solution. The stone-wash finish is achieved by filling an industrial-sized clothes washer with large, segmented rocks and new denim jeans.

During the wash cycle, the cloth fibers are pounded and beaten by the rock fragments, resulting in a worn-out appearance. The process also increases the flexibility and softness of otherwise stiff fabrics such as denim.

Fight Fire with Mist

Most people do not realize that fire is not the biggest cause of destruction to a burning building in many cases. The water used by firefighters to extinguish the flames actually causes the most damage. When firefighters pump thousands of gallons of water into a building, the water does more harm than the fire itself.

Mist is a more effective fire extinguisher, and causes much less damage than water sprayed from a high-pressure fire hose. Segmenting the stream of liquid into a mist of small water particles increases the good and decreases the bad, bringing firefighters closer to the Ideal Final Result.

Corporate Subsidiaries

A corporate subsidiary is essentially the segmentation of a big conglomerate into smaller profit centers. A conglomerate is a company that has partial or full ownership stakes in a number of other companies, firms that may be in the same or different industries. By dividing the conglomerate into smaller profit centers, the business becomes easier to manage and control.

Animals and Autism

Temple Grandin’s book, “Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior,” explores the idea that autistic individuals can better relate to and understand the way animals think and feel because of similarities in their brain development. She argues that individuals with autism cannot see the big picture. Rather, these individuals see things as segments; pieces and parts of an entire object. Grandin believes that animals think in the same way. Grandin herself is autistic, so she has a unique “viewpoint.”

Grandin’s theory is that the part of the brain that is underdeveloped in an autistic person is naturally much smaller in an animal’s brain. In fact, she believes that autistic people think more like an animal than another human being in terms of brain development. She describes the natural brain segmentation that occurs in autistic people and explains how this segmented thought process has worked to her advantage.

Grandin’s work has revolutionized the reform of quality of life and humane killing of the cows, pigs, and chickens that humans consume. Her checklists for the humane treatment of animals are utilized by meat processing plants across the country. Fast-food chains such as McDonald’s Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy’s, and Burger King purchase their meat exclusively from plants that have been certified by Grandin.

In relation to business innovation, her book raises several important questions. How can you think like an autistic person or an animal to solve the problem? By looking past the big picture into the pieces and parts, can you find a better solution?

I’ve utilized segmentation in my training courses to great success. My video newsletters are an excellent example of a segmentation application. Before I began creating the videos, I struggled to find an effective means to transmit the information to the masses. Big training videos were hard to sell because they were too long and difficult to watch and absorb in one sitting.

My Sly as a Fox video newsletters are now 3 to 5 minute, bite-sized segments. In the videos, I make my point, offer a few relevant examples, and stop. Segmenting the course into consumable tidbits was a great solution. My clients enjoy the short video clips much more than 1-hour training DVDs.

How can you look through the lens of segmentation to solve an issue in your business or personal life?

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