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16 January 2013

What is S.C.A.M.P.E.R.

S.C.A.M.P.E.R. is a great idea generation technique. 

There is no former meaning to the word 'SCAMPER', because each letter is actually an acronym, e.g. P.I.E. = 'Pan Island Expressway'S.C.A.M.P.E.R. is made up of the first letter of 7 or more possible ways (see below) that the Idea Generator (that is YOU) can use quickly and efficiently to 'modify' or 'evolve' an existing solution into something else. Sometimes into a very radical ones. So when you see 'S.C.A.M.P.E.R.' it simply means its an Idea Generation technique / strategy.

In a nutshell, if you use each letter onces in sequence (or randomly), minimally your effort will enable you to create at least 7 different possibilites starting from just one existing idea.

Since many people 'claim' that they are lousy at generating ideas, the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. technique is there to assist the idea generator to generate more ideas quickly and more efficiently. The same technique can also be used for '^Design Improvements'.

To use S.C.A.M.P.E.R. you ask questions:

S    Substitute             
What could be used instead? What kind of alternate material can I use?

C    Combine               
What could be added? How can I combine purposes?

A    Adapt                   
 How can it be adjusted to fit another purpose? What else is like this?

M   Magnify                
What happens if I exaggerate a component? How can it be made larger or stronger?

M   Minify                     
How can it be made smaller or shorter? 

P    Put to other Use  
Who else might be able to use it? What else can it be used for other than its original purpose?

E    Eliminate              
What can be removed or taken away from it?

E    Elaborate             
What can be expanded or developed more?

R    Reverse              
What can be turned around or placed in an opposite direction?

R    Rearrange           
Can I interchange any components? How can the layout or pattern be changed?

Fig. 1 below shows an example of SCAMPER in action starting from an ordinary eraser and improving it using the technique.

Fig. 1 The S.C.A.M.P.E.R. technique to improve an ERASER.


Fig. 2 The S.C.A.M.P.E.R. technique to improve an ERASER. 
~(Class demonstration version)~

Ways to use the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. technique

Step 1: Decide if you would like to do it randomly, i.e. choose any 'letters' to begin and work towards exhausting all the acronyms, or you may want to just do it from the left to the right, or vice versa. You can even choose to just use one letter or a combination of a few. Whatever it is, the objective is to generate as many initial ideas as possible.

Step 2: For the selected acronym, say, beginning with S = Substitute, you may wish to make a list of things you can 'substitute' with. For example, think about what you can 'substitute' for the 'sleeve' that goes around the eraser and *make a list of them very quickly. You can substitute 'color', 'material', 'texture' or 'parts of the object with something else', etc. Finish every S.C.A.M.P.E.R. before you call it quits.

Step 3: Sketch the different 'mutations' as quickly as possible. Use various drawing techniques to achieve the best communication of the ideas.Sometimes 2D is good. Sometimes 3D is good. Sometimes drawing how each stage works is good. Be creative in the ways you present you ideas. Coloring may be good at this stage too. But do not go overboard. See Fig. 2 below for a classroom demonstration version.

Also do not be too caught up with the practicality of the solutions or the aesthetics of those ideas. It is perfectly alright to have a few ridiculous or out-of-the-world ideas but do keep them there for the sake of generating as many ideas as possible. We can always go back to those ideas later and either make improvements to them, or we simply elimiate them (or ignore them).

Step 4: Always remember to annotate your solutions. Make notes about them. Explain what is going on. Describe how the solution works. If you do not do that, the idea cannot be easily understood by someone else.

Step 5: When you are done with all the initial ideas and you should have lots of them, it is time to take a good look and highlight the good ones. Do not reglect the 'not-so-good ones' but try to see if you can further improve and refine them to make them work better. Use  S.C.A.M.P.E.R. all over again if you need on each idea. Start combining good features to create even more new hybrids.

Step 6: Selection and refinement. This will be for the Development stage.   

(*) For those those who think you cannot draw fast enough. You can first generate a list of stuffs you can modify from S.C.A.M.P.E.R. And later on you'll look at your list again, and you can proceed to sketch them out.

Some ground rules when generating ideas
1) Quantity is #1 over quality of ideas.
2) Suspend all judgement on functionalities and usabilities.
3) Maintain 100% survival rate for all ideas.

Some examples of how S.C.A.M.P.E.R. is be used can found 

here  (How to Use S.C.A.M.P.E.R. for Idea Generation (Concept Borrowing) and Development


here  (How to Use S.C.A.M.P.E.R. for Combining Ideas and Further Refinements).


(^) reference:

1 comment:

  1. SCAMPER creativity tool is a great brainstorming technique for idea generation. It is a guided by its own, for example, any response to the SCAMPER technique is welcomed no matter how non-logical is it. You may find these SCAMPER examples of resources to learn more.


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