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The morphological analysis aims to systematically explore all the combinations resulting from the decomposition of a system..


The method was developed by astrophysicist Fritz Zwicky, and published in 19691.He designed this tool to demonstrate the existence of unlisted stars. Then, he published this tool in order to facilitate the stimulation of ideas and the development of creativity.

The method

The first step is to define the subject of the study. The subject can be as wide as possible and we will retain the axes that will interest us more than others.

Example :

We are a bike manufacturer. We will explore new possibilities. For this, the axes that hold our attention are : wheels, tire size, suspensions.

1 – Identify the possibilities of each axis

Then, for each axis of reflection, we will define the set of possible alternatives. Thanks to that, we will be able to build the « Zwicky Box » (opposite the Zwicky box with 3 parameters).

Following our example, we get the following table :


Tire size


20 inches



26 pouces



29 inches




2 – Reduce the morphological space

We note that the more we have parameters and possibilities, the more we will have possible combinations. For example, for 5 axes of reflections each having 3 possibilities, we have 3 * 3 * 3 * 3 * 3 combinations, that is 243 in total. The morphological space grows very quickly, and the risk of being “drowned” is important.

This technique is called the Cross Consistency Assessment (CCA) 2. It consists in reducing the space by identifying already and already unworkable combinations, too expensive … One will draw up a matrix with abscissa and ordinate all the parameters. Then we will identify, pair by pair, the impossible combinations

Following our example, the formatting is as follows :

In our case, only the use of 5-inch tires is not compatible with suspensions, they do not allow to have sufficient space and moreover being relatively useless with this type of tires.

3 – Evaluate the combinations

With the remaining combinations, we will be able to evaluate their relevance. For example, we can use the method AHP. Taking up our example, the most interesting alternative is the use of a 26 ” wheel at the rear with a 2.1 tire and a 29 ” front wheel with a 2.3 ” tire, with only a suspension Front.


1 – F. Zwicky (1969) – Discovery, invention, research : through the morphological approach

2 – R. Rhyne (1981) – Whole pattern futures projection, using field anomaly relaxation

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