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Creativity—Using the SCAMPER Process

Opportunities multiply as they are seized.
SUN TZU

To entrepreneurs and innovators, there is no such thing as failure. Failure is just an opportunity to do it again and do it smarter, because they know what doesn't work.
CHIPS KLEIN

The process most commonly used to encourage creativity, brainstorming, works only in a group situation. Another process that can be used both individually and in a team environment is the SCAMPER process. The process works particularly well in creating new products and services that will add additional value to customers. Here is how to use the SCAMPER process, step by step:

SUBSTITUTE

  1. Think of ways of replacing one thing with another. For example, could plastic replace wood, aluminum, or steel? Could electronic transfer replace the mail or a phone call replace a fax message?

COMBINE

  1. Are there ways of bringing things together that could result in one unique item? For example, could some services be combined to produce one-stop shopping?

ADJUST, ADD, OR ADAPT

  1. Figure out what changes can be made to improve products. Similar products could be added together, for example, such as two blades joined to a twin razor. Adding stamps to each other can create a single roll or sheet. An alternative is to unite dissimilar products to create something new, such as a Swiss Army knife.

MODIFY, MAGNIFY, OR MINIATURIZE

  1. Think about the possibilities of changing the size or the nature of the product itself. Post-it Notes have done an exceptional job of taking the basic technology of a multiple-stick product and producing different sizes, colours, shapes, and uses.

PUT PRODUCTS TO OTHER USES

  1. This is a commonly used strategy. Excess newspapers can be made into fire logs; a kitchen knife can be used as a screwdriver.

ELIMINATE OR ELABORATE

  1. Consider the benefits that can be derived from less use. For example, packaging is reduced if refills are used. Generic products save advertising.

REARRANGE OR REVERSE

  1. Investigate the advantages of changing the order or sequence of events, or see if things can work the opposite way. One example with a twist on this theme would be a car that goes in two directions, not only one.


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