“The Scamper method is a technique that involves bringing creativity into groups of people, in terms of finding solutions to specific problems.”
Scamper is an Anglo-Saxon acronym, formed by several words in order to be easily remembered, and whose initials show the phases of this process. It is an idea that began to be implemented in the mid-twentieth century and now increasingly appears as an essential in any type of organization.
Keep in mind that creativity is a phenomenon that depends a lot on the context. Some people have it as an innate quality, a natural gift, but for a large part of society this element is very hidden or underdeveloped. Thus, the Scamper method is just a useful tool to organize and enhance this flood of ideas that can help us solve a problem, usually in the context of business and the resolution of tasks professionally.
What is the Scamper method?
The Scamper method is a concept derived from a previous one, the “barinstorming” or “brainstorming” strategy of the American author and publicist Alex Osborn, pioneer in the world of modern marketing. His technique was developed through observation, monitoring and recording the daily habits of people, as well as the exchange of ideas between them. Without a group, this activity can not be done.
So successful was Mr. Osborn’s work, which earned him the recognition of such important multinational companies as General Electric, DuPont, American Tobacco or the famous sports tire company BF Goodrich. After harvesting so many achievements, he decided to create his own International Center of Creativity Studies, giving classes on the “Creative Problem Solving”. In this way, it was Bob Eberle who in the middle of the 20th century created the Scamper method derived directly from the idea of Alex Osborn, with the aim of perfecting the technique in the pragmatic sense.
Before developing the idea, we must have knowledge of what each letter that forms the concept means. So, Scamper responds to: Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Propose other uses, Eliminate, Reorder.
Which is the technique?
Although it seems something dedicated to groups of intellectuals, mercantile societies or complex organizations, the truth is that the Scamper method can be applied in any field or social field. Even in situations of emergency or survival. It is especially simple to elaborate. Below you will find the steps to follow.
1. Identify the problem to solve
It is the previous step to the resolution of a conflict. It is highly important to know how to identify what is not preventing you from growing or advancing. Many companies fail to obviate this point and simply increase expenses on tasks normally performed.
2. Ask the questions SCAMPER
Once detected the anomaly or the desire to create ideas, we apply the SCAMPER questions to answer them among the collective. Do not dismiss any appreciation. In this phase, there is no discarding.
3. Organize the answers
In this case we will collect the answers we have obtained. All this without censoring or discrediting any, however unproductive it seems on a personal level.
4. Evaluate ideas
Now, in this step it is necessary to determine which are the priority ones, which ones are valid for the resolution of the problem and which ones are less important. We will focus on discarding too, but those invalid ideas can serve another future problem.
5. Select them
This last point is the most important. We must choose the ideas that are best suited to resolve the conflict, through written justification, explaining the reasons why these ideas should be applied.
The effectiveness of the Scamper method
As we have seen in the previous points, the Scamper method is easy to apply, intuitive to some extent, and does not entail any additional expense beyond a certain opportunity cost in case of failure. Yes, the creativity of the people plays a determining role, it is evident, but we must strive to implement it regardless of the nature of the people.
In a study carried out by ESADE recently, it is demonstrated that in an overwhelming 80% of the cases in which it is applied, the productive results of the company are improved. It should be noted that the more we use the Scamper method, the more mechanical and simple it will be to apply.
We will start by taking a paper, pen and a protocol to implement it and, eventually, we will do it intuitively and mentally. This does not imply that a new challenge will arise for each problem that comes out, which will involve developing Scamper in a more complex way.