SCAMPER- Ideation Method
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SCAMPER- Ideation Method

A friend who works in a marketing agency recently introduced me to a S.C.A.M.P.E.R Substitute Method. A method that helps you generate ideas for new products and services (and in many cases art) by encouraging you to ask seven types of questions, which are designed to help you understand how you can innovate and improve existing products, services, problems and ideas.

The principles of the SCAMPER technique were first formally suggested by Alex Osborn and later arranged by Bob Eberle as a mnemonic in 1991 to increase interest in the perceptive, imaginative, and creative abilities of children

The technique uses a set of directed, idea-spurring questions to suggest some addition to, or modification of, something that already exists. 

It has also received much attention as a learning tool that fosters awareness, drive, fluency, flexibility, and originality. The stimulus comes from being asked to answer queries that one would not normally pose.

The changes that SCAMPER stands for are: 

  • S—Substitute (e.g., components, materials, people) 
  • C—Combine (e.g., mix, combine with other assemblies or services, integrate) 
  • A—Adapt (e.g., alter, change function, use part of another element) 
  • M—Magnify/Modify (e.g., increase or reduce in scale, change shape, modify attributes) 
  • P—Put to other uses 
  • E—Eliminate (e.g., remove elements, simplify, reduce to core functionality) 
  • R—Rearrange/Reverse (e.g., turn inside out or upside down) 

These keywords represent the necessary questions addressed during the creative thinking meeting.

Think about replacing part of the problem, subject, story, symbol with something else. By looking for replacements you can often come up with new ideas. You can change things, places, procedures, people, ideas, and even emotions.

Helper Questions

  • Can I replace or change any parts?
  • Can I replace someone involved?
  • Can the rules be changed?
  • Can I use other ingredients or materials?
  • Can I use other processes or procedures?
  • Can I change its shape?
  • Can I change its color, roughness, sound or smell?
  • What if I change its name?
  • Can I substitute one part for another?
  • Can I use this idea in a different place?
  • Can I change my feelings or attitude towards it?

Trigger Words

alternate, colorize, exchange, fill in for, locum, proxy, relieve, rename, repackage, replace, reposition, reserve, shape, stand in for, surrogate, swap, switch, take the place of