SCAMPER is a creative thinking technique that can help you generate new ideas for improving existing products, services, problems or situations. It is based on the idea that you can modify any aspect of a product or service by asking seven types of questions: Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate and Reverse.
By applying these questions to different elements of a product or service, such as its features, benefits, functions, materials, users, markets or contexts, you can explore new possibilities and opportunities for innovation.
Some of the benefits of using SCAMPER are:
- It helps you break out of your habitual thinking patterns and look at things from different perspectives.
- It stimulates your imagination and encourages you to think outside the box.
- It helps you identify gaps, weaknesses or opportunities for improvement in existing products or services.
- It helps you generate a large number of ideas in a short time.
- It helps you evaluate and refine your ideas by comparing them with the original product or service.
To use SCAMPER effectively, you need to follow these steps:
- Choose an existing product or service that you want to improve or use as a starting point for new ideas.
- For each letter of SCAMPER, ask yourself relevant questions about the product or service. You can use the examples below as a guide, but feel free to come up with your own questions as well.
- Write down any ideas that come to your mind as you answer the questions. Don’t judge or filter them at this stage. The more ideas you have, the better.
- Review your ideas and select the most promising ones. You can use criteria such as feasibility, originality, usefulness or desirability to evaluate them.
- Develop your selected ideas further by adding more details, testing them with potential users or customers, or prototyping them.
Here are some examples of questions you can ask for each letter of SCAMPER:
Substitute: What can you replace or swap in the product or service? What can you use instead of the current materials, components, processes or people? What can you change in the name, shape, colour or function?
Combine: What can you merge or mix with the product or service? What other products or services can you integrate or blend? What can you combine to create a new function, benefit or market?
Adapt: What can you adjust or adapt to the product or service? How can you modify it to suit a different context, situation or need? How can you make it more compatible with other products or services?
Modify: What can you increase or decrease in the product or service? How can you make it bigger, smaller, faster, slower, stronger, weaker, louder or quieter? How can you exaggerate or understate any aspect of it?
Put to another use: How can you use the product or service for a different purpose than it was originally intended? How can you apply it to a different problem, market or audience? How can you reuse it in a new way?
Eliminate: What can you remove or simplify in the product or service? What can you reduce, minimize, omit or streamline? How can you make it more efficient, economical or elegant?
Reverse: What can you invert or reverse in the product or service? How can you change the order, direction, sequence or orientation of it? How can you turn it upside down, inside out or back to front?