Do you want to quickly come up with a lot of new ideas for your product or service? SCAMPER is a mnemonic of 7 useful creative thinking techniques developed by Bob Eberle. Simply choose one of the techniques and brainstorm ideas on your own or in a group. Don’t discard any ideas while you’re brainstorming, in fact try to include outlandish ideas – they may be the kernel of something brilliant.
Thinking about your current product, service or idea, what could you:
What could you remove and replace with something else? Materials, rules, people, resources, processes.
Example – Boeing substitute metal for lightweight composite materials to make aircraft lighter.
What could you bring together to create something new or additional? Combine with another product, organisation, material, combine purposes, resources or talents?
Example – Trevor Bayliss combines mechanical power with a radio to make the clockwork radio and you can see in the photo it’s also been combined with a torch.
How could you readjust to another sector, setting, space, where else or what other context or market could it work in?
Example – The domestic microwave oven was developed from military communications technology.
Magnify, make smaller or exaggerate an aspect or attribute including size, colour, shape, look, feel. What could you highlight or emphasize or what function could be added?
Example – Instead of daily pill taking, slow release drugs are formulated to be taken at less frequent intervals.
Put to other use
Challenge assumptions about the purpose or intention. Could it work differently in another setting, industry or customer group, can one aspect be used elsewhere or the waste recycled to make something new?
Example – Fibre optics were first used for internal medical examinations and later used for long-distance communications.
What could you simplify, reduce or remove entirely? How could it be segmented or split and what would you do if you removed one aspect or part – how would you replace it?
Example – Eliminate haulage costs by sourcing local production materials.
What would happen if you sequenced things differently, reversed them, turned them upside down or changed the direction of flow? Try changing pace, pattern or create something unexpected.
Example – When brewing beer, adding flavours before or after fermentation will change the taste profile.
Try it out
Choose one technique and come up with as many ideas as you can. It doesn’t take long, just a few minutes when you’re in the shower, driving, waiting for a train. Once you’ve brainstormed ideas then it’s important to identify which ones are genuine opportunities that you could progress.