SCAMPER – Creative technique for ideation

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SCAMPER –Creative tool for ideation
and problem solving

(It is an acronym from Substitute Combine Adapt Modify Put Eliminate Reverse)
Author : Bob Eberle, education administrator
History:   In 1953 Alex F. Osborn  in his book “Applied Imagination”  proposed 73 idea-spurring questions and later Bob Eberle in his book “SCAMPER: Games for Imagination Development” (1971), generalized, developed and organized these questions into the SCAMPER by using mnemonic rule.
Main function: The SCAMPER technique  helps to come up with creative ideas for developing new products and services, and for improving current ones.
The essence of the method:
The SCAMPER technique uses a set of directed questions which invesitgator  answers about the problem in order to come up with new ideas. The stimulus comes from forcing oneself to answer questions which would not normally pose.
Main Principle:
SCAMPER is based on the notion that everything new is some addition or modification of something that already exists. you can take anything that exists and change it into a new idea.

Procedure and steps

You use the tool by asking questions about existing products.
1.Take an existing product or service.
2. Ask the SCAMPER questions about about the product you identified and see what new ideas emerge. Simply go down the list and ask questions regarding each element.
3. Generate as many questions and answers as you can. For example:”How can…?” “What else…?” “How else…?”
4. List and evaluate the ideas and develop an existing product or create a new one.

Alex Osborn initial Checklist (1953)

Put to other uses? New ways to use as is? Other uses if modified?
Adapt?What else is like this? What other idea does this suggest? Does past offer parallel? What could I copy? Whom could I emulate?
Modify?Give it a new angle? New twist? Change meaning, colour, motion, odour, taste, form, shape? Other changes?
Magnify?Can anything be taken away? What to subtract? Smaller? Condensed? Miniature? Lower? Shorter? Narrower? Lighter? Omit? Streamline? Split up? Understate? Less frequent? Lighter? Broken up?
Substitute?Different ingredients used? Who else instead? What else instead? Other material? Other process? Other power? Other place? Other approach? Other tone of voice? Other time? ? Other material? Someone else?
Rearrange?Interchange components? Swap components? Other pattern? Other layout? Other sequence? Transpose cause and effect? Change place? Change schedule? Earlier? Later?
Reverse?Transpose positive and negative? How about opposites? Turn it backward, upside down, inside out? Reverse roles? Change shoes? Turn tables? Turn other cheek?
Combine?How about a blend, an alloy, an assortment, an ensemble? Combine units? Combine units, purposes, appeals or ideas?

 

SCAMPER Checklist by Bob Eberle (1971)

Substitute
Comes up with another topic that is equivalent to the present topic.
Substituting part of your product/process for something else.
  • What materials or resources can you substitute or swap to improve the product? What other product or process could you use?
  • What rules could you substitute?
  • Can you use this product somewhere else, or as a substitute for something else?

What will happen if you change your feelings or attitude toward this product?


Combine 

Adds information to the original topic. Combining two or more parts of your problem to achieve a different product/process or to enhance synergy.
  • What would happen if you combined this product with another, to create something new?
  • What if you combined purposes or objectives?
  • What could you combine to maximize the uses of this product?
  • How could you combine talent and resources to create a new approach to this product?
Adapt
Which parts of the product/process could be adapted to remove the problem or think how you could change the nature of the product/process.
  • How could you adapt or readjust this product to serve another purpose or use?
  • What else is the product like?
  • Who or what could you emulate to adapt this product?
  • What else is like your product?
  • What other context could you put your product into? How could you change the shape, look, or feel of your product?
  • What could you add to modify this product?
  • What could you emphasize or highlight to create more value?
  • What element of this product could you strengthen to create something new?
Modify 
Creatively changes the topic. Distorting the product or process in an unusual way
  • How could you change the shape, look, or feel of your product?
  • What could you add to modify this product?
  • What could you emphasize or highlight to create more value?
  • What element of this product could you strengthen to create something new?
 

Put to other uses 
Identifies the possible scenarios and situations where this topic can be used. How you might be able to put your current solution/ product/process to other purposes, or think of what you could reuse from somewhere else in order to solve your own problem.

  • Can you use this product somewhere else, perhaps in another industry?
  • Who else could use this product?
  • How would this product behave differently in another setting?
  • Could you recycle the waste from this product to make something new?

E
liminate 

Removes ideas or elements from the topic that are not valuable.
Think of what might happen if you eliminated various parts of the product/process/problem and consider what you might do in that situation
  • How could you streamline or simplify this product?
  • What features, parts, or rules could you eliminate?
  • What could you understate or tone down?
  • How could you make it smaller, faster, lighter, or more fun?
  • What would happen if you took away part of this product? What would you have in its place?

R
everse, rearrange

Evolves a new concept from the original concept. Think of what you would do if part of your problem/product/process worked in reverse or was done in a different order. You can use this to see your problem from different angles and come up with new ideas.
  • What would happen if you reversed this process or sequenced things differently?
  • What if you try to do the exact opposite of what you’re trying to do now?
  • What components could you substitute to change the order of this product?
  • What roles could you reverse or swap?
  • How could you reorganize this product?

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