The Scamper method is a technique that consists of bringing out creativity in groups of people , in terms of finding solutions to concrete 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-20th century and is now increasingly presented as an essential in any type of organization.
It should be borne in mind that creativity is a phenomenon that depends very much 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. Therefore, the Scamper method is nothing more than a useful tool to order and enhance this flood of ideas that can be used to solve a problem, normally in the context of companies and professional task resolution .
What is the Scamper method?
The Scamper method is a concept derived from an earlier one, the “barinstorming” or “brainstorming” strategy of the American author and publicist Alex Osborn, a pioneer in the world of modern marketing. His technique was developed through observation, monitoring and noting down people’s daily habits, as well as the exchange of ideas between them. Without a group, this activity cannot be carried out.
So successful was Mr. Osborn’s work that it earned him recognition from such major multinational companies as General Electric, DuPont, American Tobacco and the famous sports tire company BF Goodrich. After reaping so many achievements, he decided to create his own International Center for the Study of Creativity, teaching classes on “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 Alex Osborn’s idea, 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: Replace, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Propose other uses, Delete, Reorder .
What is the technique?
Although it may seem something dedicated to groups of intellectuals, commercial companies or complex organizations, the truth is that the Scamper method can be applied in any social field or area. Even in emergency or survival situations. It is especially easy to elaborate. Below you will find the steps to follow.
1. Identify the problem to be solved
It is the step prior to the resolution of a conflict. It is highly important to know how to identify what is not preventing growth or progress. Many companies fail to address this point and simply increase expenses for tasks normally performed.
2. Ask the SCAMPER questions
Once the anomaly or the desire to create ideas is detected, we apply the SCAMPER questions to answer them among the collective. No appreciation should be overlooked. At this stage, 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 may seem to us on a personal level.
4. Evaluating ideas
Now, in this step we have to determine which are the priorities, which are valid for the resolution of the problem and which are less important. We will focus on the discard as well, but those invalid ideas may serve another future problem.
5. Select them
This last point is the most important. We must choose the ideas that best fit to solve the conflict , by means of a 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 a certain extent, and does not entail any additional expense beyond a certain opportunity cost in case of failure. The creativity of people does play a decisive role, it is obvious, but we must make an effort to implement it whatever the nature of the people.
A recent study by ESADE shows that in an overwhelming 80% of the cases in which it is applied, the company’s production results are improved. It should be noted that the more we use the Scamper method, the more mechanical and simple it is to apply.
We will start by taking a paper, pen and a protocol to implement it, but as time goes by we will do it in an intuitive and mental way. This does not mean that with every problem that comes up, a new challenge will arise, which will mean developing Scamper in a more complex way.