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Monday, April 26, 2010

SCAMPER Your Way to Increased Innovation

SCAMPER Your Way to Increased Innovationby Paul Sloane

One of the most popular creativity methods in my Ideas Workshop is SCAMPER. It is a productive and versatile technique for generating innovative ideas for your product or service. It forces you to look at your offering from seven different perspectives. SCAMPER is an acronym and you ask the following types of question when you use this tool:

  • Substitute: What elements of this product or service can we substitute?

  • Combine: How can we combine this with other products or services?

  • Adapt: What idea from elsewhere can we alter or adapt?

  • Maximize or minimize: How can we greatly enlarge or greatly reduce any component?

  • Put to other use: What completely different use can we have for our product?

  • Eliminate: What elements of the product or service can be eliminated?

  • Rearrange or reverse: How can we rearrange the product or reverse the process?

Here are some examples of how the SCAMPER verbs work for innovation:
  • If you were making spectacles then you could substitute plastic lenses for glass (incremental innovation) or you could substitute contact lenses for spectacles (radical innovation).

  • A mobile phone was combined with a camera and then an MP3 player.

  • The roll-on deodorant was an idea adapted from the ballpoint pen.

  • Restaurants that offer all you can eat have maximized their proposition.

  • A low cost airline like Ryanair has minimized (or eliminated) many elements of service.

  • De Beers put industrial diamonds to other use when they launched engagement rings.

  • Dell Computers and Amazon eliminated the intermediary.

  • MacDonalds rearranged the restaurant by getting customers to pay first and then eat.

Luciano Passuello has posted a section of his blog on SCAMPER together with a SCAMPER random question generator and a SCAMPER mindmap. If you want to use this tool in your next brainstorm meeting, then these resources are highly recommended.


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Paul SloanePaul Sloane writes, speaks and leads workshops on creativity, innovation and leadership. He is the author of The Innovative Leader published by Kogan-Page.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Jana Görs said...

Hi Paul,

I was always wondering about SCAMPER. And still I can't imagine how manipulating verbs can be useful in idea production.

Imagine that you are looking for ideas for a hydraulic system in order to increase its performance.

One of my problems is that I couldn't find answers to the SCAMPER questions for ideation tasks like that.

Take the question "How can we combine this with other products or services?" What should I combine? And for what reason? SCAMPER can't give me a satisfying answer to these questions.

The second and more important problem is that SCAMPER makes arbitrary changes to the product. As an ideation workshop facilitator you aren't able to control the outcome of this technique.
* The participants don't know what to substitute, to combine ...
* The facilitator isn't able to control the ideation.
* The results are arbitrary.

In my opinion, in the form presented here SCAMPER isn't useful for a goal-oriented ideation task.

SCAMPER will be more useful if you combine it with a checklist of customer values, for example:
* What could you combine in order to make the product more reliable?
* What could you add to the product in order to increase its convenience?
* ...

That give the participants a direction which parts would be most useful to SCAMPER.


Cheers
Jana

2:46 AM  

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