SCAMPER Method> Explore and brainstorm together
The SCAMPER method helps stimulate creativity in order to find solutions to problems, improve products, dream up changes to an object and more.
Prepare a Board activity. First, you need to determine and identify the problem, idea, product or topic you want to reflect on. The next step is rewording it into a question: how... ?
- our store is losing sales because of long checkout queues: How can we reorganise our store to improve profits?
- our margins for product X are declining: How can we revise the components to improve our margins?
Create 8 categories: the first category (Components) lets you clarify data related to the problem, if applicable, and the other 7 are SCAMPER Method verbs: Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify/Magnify, Put to another use, Eliminate, Reverse.
You may want to explain what’s expected in a note on the first card of each category (giving them the same colour code).
Activity settings Board
- Activity format: Direct
- Vote: in points
- Category: Components + 7 SCAMPER categories
Present the topic/issue and make sure everyone understands it. Review the components you previously entered so that the entire group sets off on an equal footing. Next, explain the method and especially the meaning of each of the facilitating verbs:
- S for Substitute: What can be substituted to solve/improve our difficulty? Or how can we substitute element X to generate changes, improvements or surprising ideas?
- C for Combine: What other product, service and/or process (adjacent, upstream or downstream) can be combined with ours to create something different and new or to expand possible uses?
- A for Adapt: What can we adapt from another product/service/environment to improve ours? This involves putting your idea into a new context, which you will use for inspiration to produce it.
- M for Modify/Magnify: What can be modified to improve our position on the market? Or to get a competitive edge? Can we maximise or even exaggerate an element of our product? Modify production, materials, movement, etc.
- P for Put to another use: Can our product be used in a different context than the one it was created for?
- E for Eliminate: What if we removed an element? A function? Or minimised it? Can we eliminate a context? Performances? Customers?
- R for Reverse: what if we reversed or reorganised ideas, the product or even the situation to see what happens? How can we flip things around and find different ways the situation can be arranged while evaluating the one(s) that are most beneficial for the project?
The facilitating verb can apply to all or some of the components of the subject tackled. One to three verbs are assigned to each person or, for a large group, to smaller sub-groups of two to four people (see our Suggestions for further details).
Everyone contributes their ideas to the category assigned. You can switch back and forth between assigned categories, discuss or reword in sub-groups.
Once all categories are completed, the limit on ideas is reached (if you set a limit), the time allocated is up or creativity is waning, the whole group will review all the ideas to clarify or explain the different thoughts.
Take this opportunity to clean up the board: group similar ideas together, delete duplicates, etc.
Hold a voting session (see the Dotmocracy activity) so that participants can prioritise the ideas that seem most important, innovative, etc.
Once the vote is over, identify the ideas with the most votes (usually the first 3 or 4) in order to set up an action plan to develop them.
Suggestions and variations
It’s best to avoid the whole group working on all the verbs. The activity will become too long and daunting.
- By assigning two or three verbs to each person or each sub-group, your meeting will be more dynamic.
- Limit brainstorming on each verb to 10 minutes and set a limit of 10 suggestions per verb, for example.
- If creativity starts to dry up, skip to other verbs or to selection.
- Remember to rephrase the question or keywords to reawaken inspiration.