Developing new ideas and solutions can often be difficult, but this barrier can be overcome by utilizing a methodology like SCAMPER to guide thinking. SCAMPER is a brainstorming method used to generate ideas through seven different actions. Each action requires the user and team to think differently about their problem and solution to generate new ideas that may be more effective than the original proposition.

SCAMPER is an excellent tool to focus on existing products or ideas, and find ways to improve them.

  • S – Substitute
  • C – Combine
  • A – Adapt
  • M – Modify
  • P – Put to Other Use
  • E – Eliminate
  • R – Reverse

With every method and letter within SCAMPER, it is important to have a goal. What are you trying to improve or create? Do you want to reduce cost? Increase customer experience? Develop a new product to solve customer problem XYZ? Reduce process time for a certain activity? Maybe you’re looking for new ways to innovate around another companies intellectual property to enter a marketplace! No matter what objective you and your team set out to achieve, it is vital to have a clear problem statement and goal. Check out How Might We and Key Elements of Strong Problem Statements for more information.

Substitute

  • What materials, ingredients, or resources could be exchanged to meet the objective?
  • Could you use another product or service?
  • Can we change our emotions or feelings toward this product? Identify emotion, and swap it (for better or worse)
  • Can you substitute the name?
  • Could the processes, rules, or rules be changed?
  • How might you change the shape, color, roughness, or weight? (Physical properties)
  • Can you use this product or idea on another project?

Combine

  • How could you combine this product with another to make something new?
  • How might you combine this product’s purpose or objective with another product or process?
  • What could you combine to maximize the uses of this product?
  • How could you combine departments to create a new team to solve this problem?
  • Can you combine this product with other every day items? Look around and find any object. The game Disruptus is an excellent way of identifying items!

Adapt

  • How could this product to serve another purpose?
  • Who or what could adapt this product?
  • How might nature utilize this product after it is thrown away?
  • What else is like your product?
  • Are there other industries that could benefit from this product or service?
  • What other things are like this product?

Modify

  • Can I change the item in some way?
  • Can I change meaning, color, motion, sound, smell, form, or shape?
  • How might you change the shape, look, or feel?
  • What could you add or subtract?
  • What could you emphasize or highlight?
  • Are there elements of this product could you strengthen to create something new?
  • Can I add extra features?
  • How might you adjust the process to better meet future hand offs?

Put to Another Use

  • Can you use this product somewhere else, perhaps in another industry?
  • Who else could use this product?
  • How would someone in a third world nation use this product? Assuming no knowledge of its existence.
  • How would people with different disabilities engage or experience this product or service?
  • How would this product behave differently in another setting?
  • Could you recycle or upcycle this product to make something new?
  • If someone purchased this item at a thrift store, other than its primary use,what would they use it for?

Eliminate

  • How might you simplify this product?
  • What features, parts, or standards might be eliminated?
  • Is a step in the process even needed? Do future customers or end users care about this step or feature? Would they be willing to pay for it?
  • How could you make it smaller, faster, or lighter?
  • What would happen if you took away a part? What would replace it?
  • How might you reduce the effort required in each process step?

Reverse (or Rearrange)

  • What would happen if the process was reversed?
  • What is the goal or objective of your product or service and how could you make it worse?
  • How you do the exact opposite of what you’re doing?
  • What components or features could you substitute to change the order of this product?
  • How would you rearrange the product, service, or production process to better meet the customer’s (internal and external needs?

What’s Next?

After evaluating each of the ideas, take action and begin testing the new solutions with customers. Introduce MVPs (Minimum viable products) to customers to quickly gain feedback and iterate on your new solutions. See The Power of Pretotyping for methods on how to build MVPs and prototypes.


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