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SCAMPER (B Eberle, 1971) is a model I particularly like, probably because it can be made into a great game for kids and encourage creativity but also it’s a good acronym that’s easy to remember and follow.

Using this model helps focus on products and services so you are encouraged to think about how you can change or improve them and it follows as this :

S – Substitute

              What can the product be swapped for? What parts could be substituted such as materials, substance, processes? Can you think of an example of a good substitute for an existing product or service? Consider all the different possibilities – taste, shape, smell, feel, what its called. Can people be substituted ? places, rules of use or services?

For people you may have thought about how self services have substituted till operators (not always a good substitute!) You may have considered how ingredients are often substituted such as sugars and preservatives. Or for the enviro friendly you first thought might be plastics being substituted with paper and other more appropriate packaging.

C – Combine

              This considers what could go well together, can 2, 3 products be brought together to become one product? Well of course theres plenty of examples for this from the small swiss army knife that can open everything from a tin of beans to a wine bottle to the high tech phone (remember when mobiles were just for calling people with?) Washing machines combined with dryers and all sorts of household items that are designed to save space and give the customer more in one product. And what about services, combining delivery with installation. Package holidays, Banks now offer combined financial services and you can now join a gym and receive personal training, nutrition advice and sports therapy all in the same deal.

A – Adapt

              This follows on from combine as products can be adapted to merge with another but adapting is mostly asking how you can potentially change something to either improve it or make it more effective / profitable and desirable. Making tweaks to something or major adaptations can make all the difference when considering existing products and services as this could be a very easy cost effective way or introducing something newly improved to customers. Examples of this could include how adaptations make a device easily usable internationally, water bottles adapted to include easy hold or redesigns to make items attachable and easy to transport. You can probably think of lots more examples.

M – Modify, Magnify, Minify

              You may be thinking this is pretty much the same as Adapting and I can see why. According to Wikidiff  ‘As verbs the difference between modify and adapt is that modify is to make partial changes to while adapt is to make suitable’,fit%20or%20suit%3B%20to%20proportion.

In truth If you are going to adapt something you have to modify it. For the purpose of this acronym however modify is seen more in line of desirability than suitability (I still think they’re the same!) you could consider examples of how modifications are made to technology or to items of food to make them safe or more nutritious or even to taste or smell better. Magnify and minify are fairly straightforward and need little explanation. TVs can be purchased Cinema sized and laptops have become lightweight and easy to carry as tablets.

P – Put to another use

              Theres a few questions you would need to ask in order to think this one through properly as depending on the product / service there may be restrictions or conversely many opportunities available that require creative thinking. Putting to other use may require modifications in ‘M’ above or Adaptions or combinations and in fact could be the whole point of making the changes to make it multiuse! But if we think of other uses with an existing product without making any modifications what would we come up with? What else can the product be used for?

Did you know Listerine was originally a surgical antiseptic and floor cleaner before being marketed as a cure for bad breath ?!

The decorative antiques industry of course do very well from this concept turning old horse troughs and watering cans into planters and putting pretty much anything to good use. Gold – originally for jewellery and ornaments, statues is now used in many electronic devices as its not only an excellent conductor but it doesn’t oxidise so go rusty.

E – Eliminate

              How do you make something lighter, more cost effective, easier to use, simpler, less cumbersome? What can be streamlined about a service to keep quality but reduce the time taken on processes? An easy example of this is to make something light weight you need to eliminate heavy material. Early cars made of steel can now be made with carbon fibre. Technology advancements are possibly the best eliminators – bagless hoovers, electric cars (elimination of diesel / petrol) and digital cameras (no need for film) There are plenty of examples of how elimination has been a matter of safety such as lead paint but also preference (electric cookers vs gas)

Thinking of services I have used Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) techniques to eliminate unnecessary steps in processes and procedures to make services more time efficient for the customer.

R – Reverse, Rearrange.

              I can think of examples where I have re-arranged products, ours being training programmes where I have combined assignments to enable students to cover as much criteria as possible with minimal repetition so speeding up the programme and making it easier and more engaging and with this – less frustrating. Can you think of how you might re-arrange a product or service to improve / refresh it? Ergonomics might be a good example here, think of a car dashboard layout and its control panels and instruments and how they can be re-arranged for ease of use

Want to look further at how to use SCAMPER? The following blog follows a particular idea generation that is interesting and creative