What is SCAMPER and how to use the SCAMPER tool to boost creativity?
When you brainstorm new ideas for new strategies, new products and services, new processes… it is important to have fresh and new perspectives and step back to see the reality with a different mindset.
However with the fast paced business environment these days, multiple projects and responsibilities and high expectations, sometimes it is very hard to come up with new ideas within a limited time and resources. You really need to be more creative to work under pressure and limited resources.
SCAMPER can help you the next time you work either alone or you are brainstorming with your team to generate fresh perspectives and new ideas.
What is SCAMPER?
SCAMPER is a brainstorming and creativity tool that stands for:
S – Substitute something – New products and services can be developed by simply substituting something.
C – Combine it with something else – Bundling, mixing and packaging in a different way can create additional value for your product, service or process.
A – Adapt something – Sometimes adapting something from another industry or someone else can be very helpful and simple to implement.
M – Modify or Magnify – Good product, service or system can be improved by making it faster, stronger, smaller…
P – Put it to another use – Successful and proven service or system can be used for another product, market, customer or production process.
E – Eliminate something – Business processes can be drastically improved by eliminating steps that don’t create extra value for the end user. Products and services can also be developed and designed to be simple to use by eliminating unnecessary features.
R – Reverse or Rearrange – By reversing and rearranging components products can be improved, service can be with higher quality and business processes can save time and money.
How do I use SCAMPER?
Most of the new ideas, products, services, processes, approaches, methods, strategies… are extensions or modifications of something that already exists.
By asking the right questions and looking at the issues from different perspectives you can easily brainstorm and generate many new ideas. You can use the SCAMPER tool by randomly selecting and working with questions from each of the 7 SCAMPER categories or you can work systematically one by one.
Tip: It is very important to have a well defined statement of the issue you are working on with your team before using SCAMPER. Make sure your issue/problem/opportunity is well defined and understood by everyone before you start brainstorming and working with SCAMPER.
SCAMPER Questions and Examples:
Let’s take a look at some examples on how you can use the SCAMPER tool to ask the right questions:
1. Substitute something
What can be substituted? Who can be substituted? What else can be substituted? Can I substitute a component? Can I substitute a vendor? Can I substitute the location? Can I substitute some product features (color, material, packaging, size…)? Can I substitute the process?
What ideas and approaches can be combined? Can I combine it with another function? Can I combine / merge multiple components? Can I combine it with another solution? Can I combine it with another purpose?
Can I adapt something from the past? What other strategy can be adapted? What other ideas are similar to this? Can I adapt features from another industry? Can I adapt another service to this product? What would I easily copy from someone else?
4. Modify / Magnify
What can be duplicated here? What could add additional benefit? How can I add more value? What can be made larger? How can I improve the current scope? Can I add extra features? Can I make this stronger? How can I deliver it faster? Can I modify the process?
5. Put it to another use
What else can be done with it? Can I apply it to other markets? Can this process be used by another product? What else can be made with this? Can I use this in a new way? Who else would benefit from these product features?
6. Eliminate something
Can I deliver it in a fewer steps? Is there something I can skip? Can I eliminate a rule? What is not really necessary here? In what ways can I streamline this approach? Can I design a smaller version of this product? Can I split it up?
7. Reverse or Rearrange
In what ways can I rearrange this better? Can I interchange functions? Is there a better layout for this? Can I rearrange the sequence? Can I reverse the components?
The SCAMPER questions can be effectively used for developing new products, services and business processes. For example, in developing a new sales system the same questions and approaches can be used just like when you use them to develop or improve a product or service.
SCAMPER is a very effective tool for brainstorming in teams and during meetings when people try to generate new ideas and strategies.