From the textbook definition of a SYSTEM, one can see how TRIZ thinking for inventive problem solving can emerge.
A System is defined as, " A set of elements interacting together to achieve an objective or perform a function"
Set of elements (can themselves be viewed as systems as well).
System implies that it exists to achieve an objective or perform a function. If there is no function or objective, we can not define a system. Set of elements also define the boundary of the system, everything else is the environment in which system operates.
Interactions between elements lead to emergence of the system function, these interactions can be in space or time coordinates or under specific conditions (one can see the mapping to TRIZ).
In the process of performing a function/achieveing an objective, the system may have to interact with the environment - this will lead to the useful function being achieved, however, since system will be creating some change in the environment in the process of performing its function, it will create a harmful effect as well. one should strive to make/design the system in such a way that useful functions are achieved but all harmful effects are reduced or eliminated (the TRIZ concept of contradictions). This also gives us a peep into the evolution towards IDEAL system - another powerful TRIZ concept.
There are certain emergent properties of the system that are not explicitly mentioned/included in the definition of the system. the interactions between elements may lead to certain properties that the system designer would not have thought about. This is becoming more and more the case with complex adaptive systems (CAS). Since the definition of system explicitly doesnt include CAS, TRIZ also could not define the complex adaptive systems - here methink is the opportunity to integrate TRIZ thinking with the concepts, theories and methodologies of Complex Adaptive Systems.
Let us look at the Ideal System based on the system definition
1. Minimum set of elements => ZERO Elements
2. Minimum interactions => ZERO Interactions
3. No Harmful effects/Only useful Functions => No/Minimum interaction with the environment