SCAMPER Brainstorming: Methods & Example

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  • 0:04 Brainstorming
  • 0:34 The SCAMPER Method
  • 3:30 SCAMPER in Design Thinking
  • 4:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

The SCAMPER method of brainstorming provides a framework for guiding creative thinking. In this lesson, you'll learn more about the method and see a few examples of how it works in action.


Part of design thinking, which is a process of problem-solving and creating solutions, is coming up with creative and innovative solutions. But brainstorming doesn't always come easy. You might need to take a walk, step away from your work, draw, listen to music, or do any number of other things to get the creative juices flowing.

A different approach to brainstorming, called the SCAMPER method, may eliminate your other tried-and-true methods of breaking through with more innovative and creative ideas and finding unusual or unique solutions to consumers' problems.

The SCAMPER Method

The SCAMPER method of brainstorming was developed by Bob Eberle, an education expert, who described SCAMPER in more detail in his 1971 book, Games for Imagination Development. His work was built on the brainstorming technique first created by Alex Osborn.

SCAMPER is an acronym that highlights seven thinking techniques using targeted, thought-provoking questions and ideas to boost creativity and help find innovative answers to problems. Here's what it stands for:

S Substitute
C Combine
A Adapt
M Modify
P Put to another use
E Eliminate
R Reverse

The SCAMPER activity creates a structured approach to creative thinking. It's designed to get you thinking and asking questions about your existing products, processes, and services, based on each letter in the acronym SCAMPER. Let's explore how it works in an example about technology.

1. Substitute

Think of a part of your concept where you could substitute a similar concept and see if it results in improvements.

Question to ask: How can we make our smartphone lighter for consumers to carry in their pockets?

Example: This could include changing out the material for a smartphone that's lighter and more durable.

2. Combine

Try combining several existing ideas or products into one workable solution.

Question to ask: Could we combine two or more technologies to create greater value?

Example: Combining a camera and a smartphone changed the way consumers capture memories.

3. Adapt

Maybe you already have a good idea that just needs to be adapted slightly.

Question to ask: What can we change about our current technology for better customer satisfaction?

Example: When consumers began clamoring for a flashlight feature on the iPhone, the first solution was a mobile phone application before Apple adapted its next device to have a built-in flashlight feature.

4. Modify

Modify a part of your product or process to find new insights or see what can be accomplished.

Question to ask: Can we change our technology to work more efficiently?

Example: Apple regularly publishes updates to its operating system for performance improvements and enhancements.

5. Put to Another Use

To put simply, try putting an idea to another use.

Question: What else could this product be used for?

Example: The entire idea of a smartphone has developed out of the notion of putting the telephone to another use, like texting, taking photos, playing games, etc.

6. Eliminate

Consider what you can eliminate from a product or process.

Question: What would happen if we eliminated this process or component?

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