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Smart Little People (SLM) or Miniature Dwarf's method is a problem solving tool in Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ). It models the process and seeks solutions to conflicting situations by assuming an army of little people at work within the contradiction. There little people are capable of performing any action that you want them to perform and hence allow the consultant to focus on 'What to do' rather than 'How to do'.


TRIZ (Teoriya Resheniya Izobretatelskikh Zadatch) or TIPS (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving) is a methodology for inventive problem solving. It was developed by a Russian scientist - Genrich S. Altshuller. He and his team analyzed thousands of innovations across different sectors and generalized the inventive patterns to come up with a set of universal principles. These principles makes creative problem solutioning faster and predictable


An application-oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Glory Gerald and Sourabh Nandi.


Applause for all the respondents - Glory Gerald, Sanat Kumar, Sourabh Nandi.


Q 311. What is "Smart Little People" tool in TRIZ?


Note for website visitors - Two questions are asked every week on this platform. One on Tuesday and the other on Friday.

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Smart Little People(SLP) in TRIZ also called as Moving Little Men(MLM) is a creativity tool that makes people to to think or analyze a problem in different way and come up with the most optimum solution. It is a technique that can be used with the separation principles or the 40 principles once the conflict has been identified especially a technique that is very useful in brainstorming sessions. The idea here is to break down the system into smaller parts or at micro level for a better understanding. In this technique one imagines the system that we are analyzing consists of many clever and brilliant people or miniature dwarfs and these dwarfs are assumed to have super natural capabilities that can fly, swim, run, jump, fight also appear and disappear, change size etc. As little people are assumed to have aforesaid features, it also helps the analysts or eases up the process of searching for solutions for a particular problem during the phase of diagram building by answering questions like 'What to do?' to avoid any conflicting situation. The answer to the question' How to do it' will be solved in the next stage of analysis using SLP.


The SLP tool allows to explain the the conflict that is exists in a problematic situation, as is state also presentation of an ideal state of the process addressing the problem identified earlier.


Approach (SLP Method is done in 4 simple steps):




The above steps are applied in the below example: The Tipper Wagon


Step 1





Step 2




Step 3





Step 4




Conclusion: Thus the SLP method is easy to use for Creativity and Idea Mapping during brain storming sessions making the problem solving exercise more fun, enjoyable and exciting as it is easy to understand for people coming from different educational and professional background.





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Smart Little People ( SLP )

Smart Little People is a simple TRIZ Creativity tool developed from the observation of innovative and creative people at work. This powerful tool is often mastered in a short period. Smart Little People are tiny imaginary beings who represent the various elements of the matter we try to understand and solve. It works as a mental trick because it’s supported empathy or creating some personal analogy with the case. Compassion means becoming the object/problem and looking out to determine what will be done from its position and viewpoint. If we imagine ourselves becoming so tiny that we are within the problem area and seeing the matter in great detail, this may be useful and harmful. This is often useful for problem understanding but harmful because may we resist solving a controversy if the answer means ourself, as a little being, goes to be destroyed, dissolved, mashed up, dissected, etc. this is often overcome by employing a crowd/multitude of disposable Smart Little People, for which we feel no responsibility.


Smart Little People works by modeling the various aspects of the matter (causes and solutions) with different rival or complementary Smart Little People groups. They’re Smart because they need the flexibility and insight to create/solve problems and be anywhere, doing anything. Little means they’re as tiny as necessary – molecular level if required. Rival teams of smart little people are often created, and a few can cause the matter and solve it; they are doing whatever is necessary whether or not this implies they get destroyed. The below figure uses SLP to illustrate a composite element.




Altshuller’ s Famous Use of Smart Little People;

In much of the TRIZ literature is the original famous Altshuller example of how he designed an ideal marine cable to forestall tethered mines within the sea from being detected and removed. Figure 1.2 shows that minesweepers are accustomed to destroying mines stumped by dragging a cable loop, which traps the mine retaining cable. The mine then detonates or floats to the surface. Altshuller’s challenge was to style a cable that might tether the mine to the seabed and allow the minesweeper cable to tolerate it. Altshuller drew the zone of conflict as if with populated the smart little people, and by imagining a little person holding the feet of the small person above, he saw the solution.
(Figure 1.3 ).



The device which was developed is widely used works sort of a rotating door. It’s supported the smart little person’s principle of letting associate with one hand to allow the cable to withstand while still hanging on with the opposite hand. Then rejoining the primary hand and letting go with the use. Therefore, the line passes through, but the vertical link is always maintained.


Smart Little People is an excellent tool for modeling any real-world problem. When we use Smart Little People, we zoom and enter the problem zone. As we model our situation, we identify exactly what’s going on the location. We become responsive to the fine details so we can specialize in the place where our problem is going on – but in a very conceptual way. Our Smart Little People then facilitate us to find solutions.

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TRIZ – is theory of inventive problem solving. This was developed by Russian Scientist Genrich S. Altshuller post his extensive study of inventions. He derived 39 conflicting                features (matrix) and 40 inventive principles to resolve/or provide direction to solution. Based on the problem team is asked to select the conflicting features and those features highlight the principles (which could be multiple), team then require brainstorming on the solutions using the principle.


Smart Little People is tool devised in TRIZ which uses a pictorial idea generation technique. This technique uses miniature dwarf (little smart people) to describe the conflicting situations, which helps people to come out of their stereotype approach, habits. People start looking at the problem at hand in completely different way


For Eg-

If the problem is “Food grain prices are going high and also the current transportation laws are regulated in terms is using heavy trucks (means limited quantity can only be transported)”. Company wants to optimize the cost. In traditional method, employee might think that this is something which is out of scope (regulations/laws). Where as in Smart Little People approach it will be different where the problem will be generalized to reduce employee biasness. Instead of food grains it will be pebbles and instead of trucks be boxes. Now the contradiction become transportation of pebbles in boxes

Contradiction 1- Increase the box size to move more pebbles, bit it might be difficult to move due to weight

Contradiction 2- Small box sizes means less pebbles could be moved


Now due to this the current problem has been simplified and also the employee will look at the current problem with any pre-conceived idea. As next step team will brainstorm and come out with creative ideas to move the pebbles in the boxes, without thinking of the actual problem.


This creative ways helps in:

1)      Breaking stereotypes and pre-conceived notions

2)      Presenting problem in simplified way helps people to come out with innovative ideas

3)      It saves time against the traditional method to trail and error

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