Sometimes we need a little help to come up with fresh ideas. SCAMPER is an amazing tool that can be leveraged to help stretch your ideation process. It helps you stretch your thinking by directing your brainstorming.
What to do
- Before starting the brainstorming process (as individuals or teams) introduce SCAMPER to participants. As an overview, SCAMPER is a mnemonic that aids lateral thinking by serving as a checklist to stretch brainstorming in different directions.
- Substitute: Substitute things, places, procedures, ideas and even emotions.
- Combine: Combine previously unrelated ideas, goods or services.
- Adapt: Adapt an idea from one industry to another.
- Modify: Modify by changing the shape, look or feel of a good or service.
- Put to other use: Put the item to use in another setting or for another purpose.
- Eliminate: Eliminate by considering what can be removed or streamlined.
- Reverse: Reverse or reorganize the process by sequencing differently or trying the exact opposite approach.
- Provide teams or individuals with flipchart paper, post-it notes, pens and markers.
- Invite teams to identify a subject they will brainstorm on and write this subject at the top of their flip chart paper. For example, how can we use waiting rooms more effectively?
- Write the SCAMPER mnemonic in columns just below the brainstorming subject.
- Ask participants to brainstorm on their topic, working through each letter of the SCAMPER mnemonic to explore new solutions by substituting, combining, adapting, modifying, putting to other use, eliminating or reversing. When you think you are done one of the letters, linger a bit longer. Note: the goal is to go for quantity over quality when using this approach. You can filter your ideas after the fact!
- After 30 minutes, invite the group to review their ideas and select some of the highlights.
- Debrief with the group.
- How did it feel to generate ideas this way?
- Did the mnemonic help to stretch your thinking? If so, how?
- What do you think of the ideas you generated?
- Did you generate any ideas that surprised you?
- How would you apply this activity back in your workplace?