Innovation: SCAMPER – A Practical Guide – Part 2

In the previous blog I discussed the different facets of innovation and introduced SCAMPER as a great creative thinking tool for everyday use by all of us. I also looked at the first two of SCAMPER’s methods. Substitution and Combination. Now, let’s look at the rest – SCAMPER.

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Adapt something to it

As part of my team’s practices we are developing a tradition of making small presentations about our successes and projects to the rest of the team. These presentations have been adapted to have different uses. We use those for:

a) sharing successful stories, best practices and knowledge on complex projects with the rest of the team,

b) as training, after the presentation I provide feedback to the presenter on how well the presentation went and what could be improved in the future based on a specific checklist developed.

Hence, one simple event can have multiple uses and have value on a 360 degree ankle. At a later post I will share the list put together for assessing the presentation in a quantifiable and very straight forward way.

Back to SCAMPER though and Adaptation: You can extend the thinking by asking questions like: What other contexts can I put my concept on? What can I emulate?

Modify or Magnify it.

Think about cappuccinos and lattes (the coffee lovers in Melbourne will understand). On one hand, a Cappuccino is 1/3 coffee, 1/3 milk and 1/3 froth. On the other, the latte is 1/3 coffee, 2/3 milk. Not much of a difference but, some people are avid supporters of one or the other. I am sure the person that came up with the idea is feeling quite proud about the effect a bit more milk (or a bit less froth) has.

In this context you can also think of what else could be added, extra features, extra functions, frequency, what can be exaggerated and so on!

Put it to some other use

An interesting example could be the use of a T-shirt as a personal message board – I am sure you have seen them around. Another familiar one would be the use of Facebook for company marketing whereas the platform was first conceived for personal interaction.

Eliminate something

I guess over time we all start to get full calendars, filled with meetings and “urgent” projects. A good exercise is the following: Every 3 or 6 months go through the list of meetings and standard reports and establish a) what adds value b) what is absolutely necessary c) what can be consolidated or merged into another report or process and d) what can be delegated? Then modify, scrap, merge and delegate what is necessary. Repeat after a set period as a matter of process.

In this context you can also think of what else could be omitted, subtracted, what rules could be eliminated/consolidated / made simpler, what is not necessary, what can be delegated.

Reverse of Rearrange it

Michalko, in Thinkertoys, mentions a great example worth repeating:

“Consider the alphabet: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ. These twenty six marks have been arranged in countless ways to make you laugh, cry, worry, wonder, question, love, hate, and ponder. They’ve been rearranged to form the words in Hamlet, Tom Sawyer….and the general theory of relativity”.

I think the above example says it all. When you think about how 26 marks are used and the diversity they provide, this truly provides perspective that as the saying goes:

“You are only limited by your own imagination”

In this context you can also think if we can change the sequence, the pace, the schedule, the pattern.

Well, that is SCAMPER. For inspiration, please also have a look at a great compilation of quotes about innovation here. You can also look at a range of questions and thoughts on SCAMPER here.

Happy SCAMPERing!!

[Image credit:]


About Geovrakas
George Vrakas (MBA, CCMP, CMILT) is highly reputed in the field of services procurement and logistics and has presented on topics such as, Globalisation, Services Procurement, Leadership, Continuous Improvement and Personal Productivity at various venues and Universities in Melbourne. He has also been the host at industry events and published articles on Procurement and Contract Management at various online publications. George was a Board member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport Australia (CILT Australia) from 2011 until 2016 and also a member of the International Association for Contract & Commercial Management (IACCM). George holds an MBA from Victoria University specializing in International Supply Chain Management and Applied Economics, he is also a certified Commercial Contract Management Practitioner (CCMP), a Green Belt Lean Six Sigma expert and holds a Lloyd's Maritime Academy certificate in KPIs for Ports and Terminals. He also holds certification on variety of topics primarily relating to Contract Management, Negotiations, International Regulations, Problem Solving and Change Management.

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