SCAMPER is a technique derived from the Osborne Checklist (Osborn, 1963). It is a technique where a series of words, verbs, adjectives, and phrases are applied to encourage creativity and quick divergent thinking to improve or modify products.
The method is surprisingly easy to start using and is very efficient in innovation and ideations sessions.
Osborn’s list of questions can be used individually or in groups. Each question should be discussed one at a time to explore new ways and approaches to the problem.
There are seven provocation lenses in the SCAMPER method:
- Modify (Also Magnify and Minify)
- Put to another use
Overall, the question is: What can I substitute or change in my product, problem or process?
- What can I replace to improve the process?
- Can I change its shape, colour, roughness, sound or smell?
- Can I use this idea for another project?
For example: What if you changed a manual process into an automated one.
Overall, the question is: How can I combine two or more parts of my product, problem, or process to achieve a different product, problem, or process to enhance synergy?
- Can I combine or merge this or that with other objects?
- What can I combine to lower the costs of production?
- Which elements can I bring together to achieve a particular outcome?
For example: What if cash savings were used to ‘offset’ the amount of interest charged on loans?
Overall, the question is: What can I adapt to my product, problem, or process?
- Which part of the product could I change?
- Which ideas could I adapt, copy, or borrow from other people’s products?
- What processes should I adopt?
What if checkout was completed with RFID tokens rather than scanning individual items.
Modify (Also Magnify and Minify)
Overall, the question is: What can I modify or put more or less emphasis on in my product, problem, or process?
- Could I grow the target group?
- Can I increase its speed or frequency?
- Can I add extra features?
For example: What if we offer same-day delivery as opposed to 24-hour delivery?
Put to Another Use
Overall, the question is: How can I put the thing to other uses?
- Which other target group could benefit from this product?
- What other kind of user would need or want my product?
- Are there new ways to use it in its current shape or form?
For example: Could we switch from cat products to dog products? Or could we switch from 6-13-year-olds to 18-29-year-olds?
Overall, the question is: What can I eliminate or simplify in my product, design, or service?
- What can I remove without altering its function?
- Can I reduce effort?
- What’s non-essential or unnecessary?
For example: Do we need ‘confirmation to open’ when reading messages tied to the same thread?
Overall, the question is: How can I change, reorder, or reverse the product or problem?
- What can I rearrange in some way – can I interchange components, the pattern, or the layout?
- Can I change the pace or schedule?
- What would I do if part of your problem, product or process worked in reverse?
For example: Do we have to register/log in before we can view the full catalogue?
Some ideas you generate using the tool may be impractical or may not suit the circumstances, but don’t worry too much about this as the aim is to generate as much and encourage divergent thinking.
On a whiteboard or large vertical pieces of paper, write down the SCAMPER acronym.
Go down the list and ask questions regarding each element. Set a timer, and every minute sketch move on to the next question group.
Share your ideas with the group and vote on ideas.