This article describes the SCAMPER Technique by Bob Eberle method in a practical way. After reading you will understand the definition, meaning and basics of this powerful creativity tool.
What is the SCAMPER Technique
In 1971, educational expert Bob Eberle described the term SCAMPER in his book Games for Imagination Development. The SCAMPER Technique or SCAMPER Approach enables companies to come up with, develop and or improve products and/or services. He developed this method using the check-list created by Alex Faickney Osborn, founder of the Alex Osborn brainstorming technique. SCAMPER is an acronym for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify/Magnify, Purpose, Eliminate/ Minify, Rearrange/ Reverse.
It is not always easy to come up with new ideas. Sometimes, the human brain can use a nudge in the right direction when it comes to creativity. The creative brainstorming technique SCAMPER can help with that. This method helps people generate ideas for new products and services or come up with ways to improve and/or change things. Asking questions about existing products or services leads to creative solutions. The questions invite creative thinking for developing new products and improving current products.
The SCAMPER Technique is a very easy method to use. First, you choose an existing product or service. This can be a product that has to be improved or changed or a product that currently has a lot of issues. Even a product that can serve as the basis for another (future) product can be used for this method.
Next, there is a round of questions based on the 7 SCAMPER topics. For each topic, different questions can be useful and we have described some examples below.
In the end, the answers are left. Generally, these are all creative answers that will now be filtered in terms of ‘useful’, ‘not useful’ or ‘somewhat useful’. The most viable and feasible ideas are collected and examined further.
Below, you can find example questions for each part of the SCAMPER Technique. In addition, you can always add your own questions, depending on the product and the organisation.
- Which materials or resources can be changed in order to improve the product?
- Which other product can be used?
- Which parts can be replaced?
- Does the product have different possible applications?
- What would happen if the product is combined with another product? Would that lead to a new end product?
- Can the product also be used for another purpose?
- With what can the product be combined in order to maximise its use?
- Can this product be adapted to another use?
- In which different context can the product be placed?
- How can the product be adapted to make it function even better?
- How could the shape or appearance of the product be changed?
- What can be added to the product?
- What could be emphasised about the product to add value?
- Which part of the product can be changed in order to create something new?
- Can the product be used for a different purpose?
- Who else could use this product?
- How would the product behave in a different context?
- Can the product’s waste be reused or recycled?
- How would the product look if we were to simplify it?
- What features and/or components can be left out?
- How can the product be made smaller, faster or lighter?
- What would happen if we remove part of the product?
- What would happen if the product is reversed?
- What would happen if parts of the product are assembled in a different order?
The answers can vary and will always include ideas that are impractical or do not suit the circumstances. However, just like in brainstorming, the goal is to generate as many ideas as possible. That is why it is recommended to use the SCAMPER Technique in combination with other creative thinking methods.
Now it’s Your Turn
What do you think? Is the SCAMPER Technique applicable in your daily work? What is your experience with product development and improvement by using creativity tools? Do you recognize the practical explanation or do you have more additions?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- Eberle, B. (1996). Scamper: Games for Imagination Development. Prufrock Press Inc.
- Eberle, R. F. (1972). Developing imagination through scamper. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 6(3), 199-203.
- Glenn, R. E. (1997). SCAMPER for student creativity. The Education Digest, 62(6), 67.
- Serrat, O. (2017). The SCAMPER technique. In Knowledge Solutions (pp. 311-314). Springer Singapore.
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