SCAMPER is a checklist that helps you to think of changes you can make to an existing product to create a new one. The SCAMPER technique uses a set of directed questions which you answer about your probortunity in order to come up with new ideas. The stimulus comes from forcing yourself to answer questions which you would not normally pose. The questions direct you to thinking about a probortunity in ways which typically come up with new ideas. You can use these changes either as direct suggestions or as starting points for lateral thinking.
Developed by Bob Eberle, the changes SCAMPER stands for are:
- S – Substitute – Think about substituting part of your product/process for something else. By looking for something to substitute you can often come up with new ideas. (components, materials, people)
- C – Combine – Think about combining two or more parts of your probortunity to achieve a different product/process or to enhance synergy. (mix, combine with other assemblies or services, integrate)
- A – Adapt – Think about which parts of the product/process could be adapted to remove the probortunity or think how you could change the nature of the product/process. (alter, change function, use part of another element)
- M – Modify – Think about changing part or all of the current situation, or to distort it in an unusual way. By forcing yourself to come up with new ways of working, you are often prompted into an alternative product/process. (increase or reduce in scale, change shape, modify attributes (e.g. colour).)
- P –Put to other purposes – Think of how you might be able to put your current solution/ product/process to other purposes, or think of what you could reuse from somewhere else in order to solve your own probortunity. You might think of another way of solving your own probortunity or finding another market for your product. (Put to another use)
- E – Eliminate – Think of what might happen if you eliminated various parts of the product/process/probortunity and consider what you might do in that situation. This often leads you to consider different ways of tackling the probortunity. (remove elements, simplify, reduce to core functionality.)
- R – Reverse – Think of what you would do if part of your probortunity/product/process worked in reverse or done in a different order. What would you do if you had to do it in reverse? You can use this to see your probortunity from different angles and come up with new ideas. (turn inside out or upside down, or use Reversal.)
As an example, imagine that you are a manufacturer of nuts and bolts, and you were looking for new products. SCAMPER would give you:
- Substitute – use of high tech materials for niche markets, such as high speed steel? Carbon fiber? Plastics? Glass? Non-reactive material?
- Combine – integrate nut and bolt? Bolt and washer? Bolt and spanner?
- Adapt – put Allen key or Star head on bolt? Countersink head?
- Modify – produce bolts for watches or bridges? Produce different shaped bolts (e.g. screw in plugs)? Pre-painted green bolts?
- Put to another use – bolts as hinge pins? As axles?
- Eliminate – Eliminate nuts, washers, heads, thread.
- Reverse – make dies as well as bolts, make bolts that cut threads for themselves in material.
Using SCAMPER here has helped you define possible new products. Many of the ideas may be impractical or may not suit the equipment used by the manufacturer. However some of these ideas could be good starting points for new products.
SCAMPER is an acronym for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, Reverse. This is a list of changes that you could make to existing products and services to open up new opportunities.