Regular brainstorming is boring – generate more ideas with Scamper

Idea

Would you like to generate new ideas, ways to improve certain product, services or processes? Are you stuck with a problem in your life? The scamper tool might be just what you need. This is a way to develop many new ideas related to a specific product or problem you are facing.
SCAMPER was proposed by Alex Faickney Osborn in 1953, and was further developed by Bob Eberle in 1971 in his book; SCAMPER: Games for Imagination Development.

How

Just simply ask and think trough the following questions:
  • Substitute – What parts can you substitute?
  • Combine – Which parts can you combine with additional parts?
  • Adjust- Which parts can you adjust to improve the user experience?
  • Modify – Which parts can you modify?
  • Put to other uses – Can you reuse some ideas elsewhere?
  • Eliminate – Which parts can you eliminate? What is non-essential?
  • Reverse, rearrange – Which parts could you completely reverse? Go crazy here, there are no bad ideas

In detail

There are many questions to ask to develop your ideas further. I’ll list a few sample ones, however you can come up with your own questions as some of them will not make sense in all circumstances.

Substitute

  • Can I replace some people involved?
  • Can I replace materials, color, smell, looks?
  • Can I replace the rules?
  • Can I replace resources?
  • What if I change my feelings towards the product?
  • What if I would be able to use the product / service in a different environment?

Combine

  • Can I combine this with another product / service?
  • Can I combine parts of this with something else?
  • What resources or ideas could be combined?

Adjust

  • What ideas could I check from something existing?
  • Can we adapt or update this product, service?
  • Can I create a different context / environment for the product?
  • What happens if I move the product out of the regular environment?
  • What happens if we look at it from outside the box?

Modify (magnify)

  • What could be modified, made bigger, smaller, different?
  • What could be modified to change look & feel?
  • What elements could be strengthened to improve value?
  • Can you use different patterns?

Put to other uses

  • What else can I use this for?
  • Can it be used in a different setting?
  • Can it be used by another target group?
  • What comes to your mind if you see the idea for the first time?

Eliminate

  • Can you reduce waste?
  • What are the essential parts?
  • Which parts could be simplified?
  • Is there anything outdated?
  • Can you split into smaller parts?
  • Can it be quicker?
  • What happens if you completely remove certain parts?

Reverse, rearrange

  • Can you interchange parts, steps?
  • Can you make it upside down? Inside out?
  • What would happen if you do the opposite of what is planned?
  • Can you swap roles?

Next step

I would like to ask you to sit down and write down one of your challenges: the you think about most of the time.
What does it mean? How do you feel about it? What are your thoughts about it? What are your emotions about it? Why? What are the reasons behind these answers? Think about these for a moment. Imagine the near future when you successfully overcame this challenge. How does it feel? What positive changes did it cause? How did you grow? Next step is to list all the steps necessary to overcome this challenge. For new ideas you could try to use the scamper tool.
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Written by András Kapros
Aspiring Coach / Mentor / Author. I would like to motivate you to change your life and be happier and more fulfilled. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need help.