A Guide to the SCAMPER Technique


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Ideas are not often plucked out of thin air. The SCAMPER brainstorming technique uses a set of directed questions to resolve a problem (or meet an opportunity). It can also turn a tired idea into something new and different.

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A Guide to the SCAMPER Technique

  1. 1. The views expressed in this presentation are the views of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Asian Development Bank, or its Board of Governors, or the governments they represent. ADB does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this presentation and accepts no responsibility for any consequence of their use. The countries listed in this presentation do not imply any view on ADB's part as to sovereignty or independent status or necessarily conform to ADB's terminology. A Guide to the SCAMPER Technique Olivier Serrat 2013
  2. 2. Define:Problem A problem is perceived when an individual, group, or organization becomes aware of a significant difference between what is desired and what actually is. Problem solving is the process by which a situation, condition, or issue is analyzed, a workable solution is determined, and corrective action is taken to accomplish a desired objective.
  3. 3. On Problem Solving The common milestones of problem solving are to • Define (or clarify) the problem. • Analyze causes. • Generate ideas (identify alternatives). • Weigh up ideas (assess alternatives). • Make a decision (select an alternative). • Determine next steps to implement the solution. • Evaluate whether the situation, condition, or issue was resolved or not.
  4. 4. The SCAMPER Technique Every problem invites a solution and, needless to say, there are numerous problem-solving techniques. The SCAMPER technique, for one, uses a set of directed, idea-spurring questions to suggest some addition to, or modification of, something that already exists. It has 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 SCAMPER Technique is used to produce original ideas. The creative process thrives on preparation, concentration, incubation, illumination, and verification (production testing).
  5. 5. The SCAMPER Technique The SCAMPER technique is based on the notion that much of what is new is a modification of something that already exists. The changes that SCAMPER stands for are: S—Substitute C—Combine A—Adapt M—Magnify or Modify P—Put to Other Uses E—Eliminate R—Rearrange or Reverse There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don't know. —Ambrose Bierce
  6. 6. How To SCAMPER • Think about substituting part of the product or process for something else. • What else instead? Who else instead? What other materials, ingredients, processes, power, sounds, approaches, or forces might I substitute? Which other place? Substitute • Think about combining two or more parts of the product or process to make something new or to enhance synergy. • What mix, assortment, alloy, or ensemble might I blend? What ideas, purposes, units, or appeals might I combine? Combine
  7. 7. How To SCAMPER • Think about which parts of the product or process could be adapted or how you might change the nature of the product or process. • Does the past offer a parallel? What else is like this? What other idea does this suggest? What might I adapt for use as a solution? What might I copy? Who might I emulate? Adapt • Think about changing part or all of the product or process, or distorting it in an unusual way. • What other meaning, color, motion, sound, smell, form, or shape might I adopt? What might I add? Magnify or Modify
  8. 8. How To SCAMPER • Think of how you might put the product or process to another use or how you might reuse something from somewhere else. • What new ways are there to use this? Might this be used in other places? Which other people might I reach? To what other uses might this be put if it is modified? Put to Other Uses • Think of what might happen if you eliminated parts of the product or process and consider what you might do in that situation. • What might I understate? What might I eliminate? What might I streamline? What might I make smaller, lower, shorter, or lighter? Eliminate
  9. 9. How To SCAMPER • Think of what you might do if parts of the product or process worked in reverse or were sequenced differently. • What might be rearranged? What other pattern, layout, or sequence might I adopt? Can components be interchanged? Should I change pace or schedule? Can positives and negatives be swapped? Could roles be reversed? Rearrange or Reverse Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be learnt. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and where appropriate profits. —Edward de Bono
  10. 10. SCAMPER Caveat There are personal blocks to creativity but these can often be removed. In organizations, fruitful application of the SCAMPER technique depends on an enabling environment. Managers who foster creativity listen, are willing to absorb risks, are comfortable with half-developed ideas, do not dwell on past mistakes, expect colleagues to succeed and capitalize on their strengths, enjoy their jobs, and make quick decisions. They then help sell ideas to senior management—this involves assessing the "sellability" of ideas and developing persuasive arguments. The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists. —Charles Dickens
  11. 11. Further Reading • ADB. 2008. The Reframing Matrix. Manila. www.adb.org/publications/reframing-matrix • ——. 2009. The Five Whys Technique. Manila. www.adb.org/publications/five-whys-technique • ——. 2009. The SCAMPER Technique. Manila. www.adb.org/publications/scamper-technique • ——. 2009. Wearing Six Thinking Hats. Manila. www.adb.org/publications/wearing-six-thinking-hats
  12. 12. Videos • ADB. 2012. The Critical Incident Technique. Manila. vimeo.com/67185516 • ——. 2012. The Five Whys Technique. Manila. vimeo.com/67185517 • ——. 2012. The Reframing Matrix. Manila. vimeo.com/67186254
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