What is SCAMPER? How to Use it?

SCAMPER was developed by Bob Eberle and it’s a toolbox or checklist to help you create new products or enhance existing products. You can use the elements of SCAMPER in any combination or individually.

The seven elements of SCAMPER are:

Substitute,

Combine,

Adapt,

Modify,

Put,

Eliminate and Reverse.

We’ll discuss each in turn.

Substitute: Put something else in place of another. This can be components, materials, people etc. A good example of this is Apple’s iPhone when it was first released: It was one of the first phones to replace a mobile telephone keypad with a touch screen system. Remember, we said use your imagination, so don’t hold back.

Combine: Mix different things together. Let your imagination go wild, but if you’re struggling, use the “connect the unconnected” dictionary method to help you generate new ideas. One product that did this well is vitaminwater. Selling water isn’t a unique concept, but by adding vitamins to the water they made a completely new product that differed from their competitors’. Another example is simply combining a suitcase with wheels, which made life easier for travellers. Combinations don’t have to be physical items, for example combine holidays with yoga and you have yoga holidays.

Adapt: Alter, modify, change the function or use another element of the product. Apple did this with the iPad. The computer screen contained the keyboard and all the other hardware, making a smart, simple-to-use tablet computer.

Modify: Increase or reduce a feature, change its shape or colour, or alter any other aspect of the product. You’ll see this happen often in the automotive industry.

Automotive companies will produce newer editions of cars by modifying the body of the car and its engineering.

Put: Put the product to another use; for example, converting your garage into a small one-bedroom apartment to rent out. You’ll be amazed at what you can do with products when you put them to another use. Did you know you can use Coca-Cola to unblock drains? Did you know you can take an elastic band, wrap it around a paint tub so that it cuts across the opening, and then use it to wipe your paint brush to prevent the paint going on the rim of the tub?

Eliminate: Remove, simplify and reduce elements of your product and see what the outcome is. When mobile phones first came onto the market they were large with extendable aerials. Over time, the aerials have become hidden within the handset and they have reduced in size dramatically. Again, experiment with this and don’t hold back. What if you removed the buttons from lifts and instead spoke which floor you wanted? James Dyson pioneered the vacuum cleaner by removing the need for bags and he completely disrupted the market.

Reverse/Rearrange: Turn the product inside out and upside down, reverse the order or sequence and try doing the exact opposite. For example, instead of an item of clothing used to keep you warm, what about an item of clothing that made you cooler, which might be useful in sports.

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