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Scamper as a Design Thinking Tool

The scamper method is an ideation technique. This design thinking approach helps trigger creative thinking and it was first introduced by Bob Eberle as a simple problem-solving technique. It is used as a brainstorming as well as a stand-alone technique to help solve problems and generate ideas.

It’s an easy technique that uses the mnemonic system in which each word is used to describe something to help remember it as a whole. For example, SCAMPER stands for substitute, combine, adapt, put to another use, eliminate and reverse.

Each of these steps further extends to several questions that must be asked to achieve desired problem-solving results. A brief description of these steps and these questions are illustrated through examples as follows:

1. Substitute

a. Is there a substitute that we can use instead?

b. What other substitutes we can use?

c. What will happen if we change our feelings towards the problem?

d. What will happen if the underlying conditions of the problem at hand are changes?

2. Combine

a. What will happen if we add or subtract from the problem?

b. What will happen if we combine some of the problems and redefine them?

c. Should we combine talent and resources to take a new fresh approach to the problem? If yes, then how?

3. Adapt

a. How can we adapt the issue to our context?

b. Is there another context to this problem that we should consider?

c. Are there others who already adapted to this problem?

4. Modify

a. How can you modify the problem?

b. What aspects hold more value and thus shouldn’t change?

c. How we might change so that our idea is perceived differently?

5. Put to another use

a. Can we use this product somewhere else?

b. Where can we use this product differently?

c. Who would like to use this product?

d. Who might be interested in our original idea?

e. Can we recycle and put it to another use?

6. Eliminate

a. What parts, aspects can be eliminated?

b. What will be the impact if we eliminate some features?

c. How will people react to this change?

7. Reverse

a. What would it look like if we change the sequence or attempt the opposite of what is suggested earlier?

b. How would this product be recognized after such a change?

To understand these questions better, now we will use an example to answer some of these questions in sequence. Let’s assume we want to figure out how to drive more audience to our social media page and we are using the SCAMPER method to navigate us through this issue.

Problem: Lack of audience on Website

Context: Using LinkedIn to drive audience towards website

Substitute: Here we need to ask if we can substitute LinkedIn with another such as Facebook or Instagram and thus experiment with different social media channels.

Combine: Here we have the option to combine the content published on LinkedIn with the content published on another social media channel such as Facebook.

• Adapt: Here we need to consider if there is another side to our problem. For example, our content might not be interesting or we might not be using the platform to its full potential. Because we are presenting LinkedIn as our main social media channel and whatever is published there constitutes our brand appearance. Thus, these factors can encourage or discourage our audience to visit our website.

Modify: We might need to change our approach towards LinkedIn and the content published on it.

Put to another use: We can consider developing LinkedIn as a learning platform for our audience rather than just a channel to promote our website.

Eliminate: We might need to eliminate linking, posting a certain type of content to stay focused on our theme.

Reverse: We should consider reversing our approach and use our website as the main media channel thus curating specific material for that approach.

Thus, by using this technique one will be able to experiment and consider several alternative ideas to solve the problem at hand just like we did in this example!

Would you like to learn more about what is in store for Design Thinking in the future? If yes, visit our other blog!

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