Eighteen years later, it was adapted by psychologist Bob Eberle in his book SCAMPER: Games for Imagination Development. The SCAMPER method was first described by advertising executive Alex Osborne in 1953. The SCAMPER method is a form of creative thinking or problem solving based on evaluating ideas or groups of ideas.
Understanding the SCAMPER method
The SCAMPER method is a simple way to stimulate creative thinking through the brainstorming of ideas. It is based on the philosophy that new ideas are simply modifications or combinations of existing ideas.
To generate new ideas during the product development process, businesses must ask seven different types of questions.
The seven questions of the SCAMPER method
The seven questions – which comprise the acronym SCAMPER – can be tackled in any order that the project team sees fit. There is no emphasis on following a sequential process.
Team leaders should also consider a wide range of creative ideas, no matter how ridiculous they initially sound.
Here is a look at each of the seven question categories:
- Substitute – what parts of a product or service can be substituted with something else? Are there better alternatives that will not affect the broader project? Are there substitutes and simpler and most cost-effective to produce? Team members can also be swapped out for someone with a different perspective. In the early days of McDonald’s, glass and porcelain table implements were replaced with paper and plastic to avoid dishwashing.
- Combine – how can two or more parts of a product, problem, or process be combined to produce something innovative? How can certain expertise be combined?
- Adapt – could products or services be adapted or tweaked to improve performance? How can the product or service be made more user-friendly or attractive?
- Modify – what can be emphasized (or de-emphasized) in a product or problem? Are there certain components or features that could be accentuated in line with consumer demand? Indeed, which components are superfluous and should be omitted? Here, the focus should always be on creating value.
- Put to another use – how can a product or service be repurposed? Could it be better utilized by a different target audience? Might the consumer use a product in a way that was not intended? In 1974, McDonald’s opened the first Ronald McDonald House charity to assist children and their families dealing with cancer.
- Eliminate – can the product or service be simplified through the elimination of one or more aspects? Can it be made smaller, more efficient, or easier to assemble? Elimination is crucial in refining a product to the point where only the primary function remains. For example, McDonald’s chose to eliminate table service to save money on wait staff and simplify its process.
- Reverse/rearrange – what happens if a process is run backward? Can the pace or order of the schedule be modified? Can components be rearranged more efficiently?
- The SCAMPER method is a simple means of generating ideas to develop new products or improve existing products through brainstorming.
- The SCAMPER method is an acronym of seven question categories. Each category can be analyzed when or as a business sees fit. There is no requirement to run through the list sequentially.
- The SCAMPER method is a holistic approach to lateral thinking. It helps businesses consider all perspectives and make decisions most likely to encourage creativity and innovation.
Connected Business Frameworks
- Business Models
- Business Strategy
- Business Development
- Distribution Channels
- Marketing Strategy
- Platform Business Models
- Network Effects
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