SCAMPER Your Way to Creativity

Want to really get creative? Well, why not SCAMPER? SCAMPER is a creativity boosting technique offered by Michael Michalko’s in his “ThinkerToys”.

Michalko feels that manipulation is the brother of creativity. When your imagination draws a blank, take an existing item and manipulate it into a new idea. Remember that everything new is just an addition or modification to something that already existed.

Several things happen when you search out alternative ideas:Macali Enterprise article image

  1. One of the alternative ideas may solve your problem.
  2. An alternative idea may rearrange the components of your problem, solving it indirectly.
  3. The alternative might prove to be a better starting point.
  4. One alternative might be a breakthrough idea that has nothing to do with the problem at hand.
  5. You may generate a number of alternatives and then return to your original idea.

SCAMPER is a checklist of idea-spurring questions. Some questions were first suggested by Alex Osborne, a pioneer creativity teacher. They were later arranged by Bob Eberlee into this SCAMPER mnemonic:

  1. S = Substitute something.
  2. C = Combine it with something else.
  3. A = Adapt something to it.
  4. M = Modify it or magnify it.
  5. P = Put it into some other use.
  6. E = Eliminate something.
  7. R = Reverse it or rearrange it.

To use SCAMPER, 1) you isolate the challenge or subject you want to think about and 2) ask SCAMPER questions about each step of the challenge or subject and see what new ideas may emerge. For example, you could ask about your prospecting system:

  1. What procedure can I substitute for my current one?
  2. How can I combine prospecting with some other procedure?
  3. What can I adapt or copy from someone else’s prospecting methods.
  4. How can I modify or alter the way I prospect?
  5. What can I magnify or add to the way I prospect?
  6. How can I put my prospecting to other uses?
  7. What can I eliminate from the way I prospect?
  8. What is the reverse of prospecting?
  9. What rearrangement of prospecting procedures might be better?

A paper clip maker used this method and substituted plastic for metal, added color, and produced plastic clips in colors so that clipped papers could be color-coded, creating another use for the clip. Nice SCAMPER!

So, good luck SCAMPERing for more creative ideas.