The SCAMPER method helps you generate ideas for new products and services by encouraging you to ask seven different types of questions, which will help you understand how you can innovate and improve existing products, services, problems and ideas. Here, you’ll learn how to use the method. SCAMPER is surprisingly easy to start using and very efficient in innovation and ideations sessions.
SCAMPER refers to a series of thought sparkers or provocations which help you to innovate on an existing product, service or situation by looking through different lenses. There are seven provocation lenses in the SCAMPER method:
McDonald’s would come to be a larger-than-life household name; it may seem hard to see in the 21st century, but the philosophy behind its ‘formula’ revolutionised the old style of restaurant experience.
Take, for example, McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc. As he’s already done all the hard work, it’s now easy for us to identify some of the ideas he used in the SCAMPER method:
Overall, the question to think about here is this: What can I substitute or change in my product, problem or process? You should think about substituting part(s) of your product or process for something else.
Use these instead of starting with: ‘I can ...’
The overall question to think about here is: How can I combine two or more parts of my product, problem, or process so as to achieve a different product, problem, or process to enhance synergy? Creative thinking involves combining previously unrelated ideas, products, or services in order to create something new and innovative.
Overall, the question you need to think about is: What can I adapt in my product, problem, or process? Think about which parts of the product or process you could adapt so as to solve your problem.
Overall, the question you need to focus on is this: What can I modify or put more or less emphasis on in my product, problem, or process? Can I change the item in some way? Can I change meaning, colour, motion, sound, smell, form, or shape? It’s time to magnify or exaggerate your idea, product, problem, or process—or to minify it. These questions will give you new insights about which components are the most important ones. Think about changing part or all of the current situation or product. Alternatively, distort the product in an unusual way.
The overall question to consider here is this: How can I put the thing to other uses? What are new ways to use the product or service? Can I reach out to other users if I modify the product? Is there another market for the product? It’s time to work out how you may be able to put your current product or idea to other uses and purposes.
Your overall question to consider here is: What can I eliminate or simplify in my product, design, or service? Think of what might happen if you were to eliminate, simplify, reduce, or minimise parts of your idea. If you continue to trim your idea, service, or process—you can gradually narrow your challenge down to that part or function that is most important.
Overall, you have to ask yourself this question: How can I change, reorder, or reverse the product or problem? What would I do if I had to do this process in reverse?
Alex Osborn, the originator of the brainstorming method, originally came up with many of the questions used in the SCAMPER technique. However, it was Bob Eberle, an education administrator and author, who organised these questions into the SCAMPER mnemonic.
The SCAMPER method helps you generate ideas for new products and services by encouraging you to ask seven different types of questions, which will help you understand how you can innovate and improve existing products, services, problems and ideas. SCAMPER is an acronym formed from the abbreviation of: Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify (Also magnify and minify), Put to another use , Eliminate, and Reverse. SCAMPER is a lateral thinking technique which challenges the status quo and helps you explore new possibilities.
You can download and print the template where we’ve described the best practice for the SCAMPER method:
Hero Image: Author/Copyright holder: Damgood AVLien. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-SA 2.0
SCAMPER – Improving Products and Services:
Luciano Passuello, Creative Problem Solving with SCAMPER: