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The SCAMPER Technique Improves Your Creative Thinking During Product Development

· Product Development

When I was building my first startup in the US, I had little experience in product development. So I had to learn while I was doing (or build the plane while it is flying!). I came across the Lean Startup methodology which taught me to get a product to market fast and using as little investment as possible. Then talk to customers to see what they wanted and improve the product according to their feedback.

I came across the SCAMPER technique when I was asked to do a talk at ProductCamp in Austin, Texas. I wanted to tell you about it so you can use it to help you launch products more efficiently. I notice a lot of companies in the US are wasteful. I am the opposite. I am conscious of the environment, the fact that we have finite resources that we may burn through in our lifetime and am mildly obsessed with efficiency. I urge you to follow me.

Here is a breakdown of the SCAMPER method and infographic below.

SUBSTITUTE

Find a part of your concept, product, service or process that you could replace with another. Replace with another to see whether it will result in improvements, such as efficiency gains. This works like a trial and error process. Example: use fake fur instead of real fur.

COMBINE

Most of the time you don’t have to come up with something entirely original and the solution already exists. One idea on its own might not work but you could combine several ideas, processes or products into one more efficient output.
Example: a phone case with a wallet.

ADAPT

Sometimes an idea that worked to solve one problem, could also be used to solve a different problem. Adaption means you see a solution in a new way.
Example: vegetarian burgers for a health conscious market.

MODIFY

Modify an aspect of your situation or problem by magnifying or minifying it to see whether it adds value. This will help you identify which part of your process works best.
Example: an electric car with an improved design to increase speed.

PUT IT TO ANOTHER USE

This is very similar to “Adapt” and is about putting an existing idea or concept to another use (using it differently than it was originally intended to).
Example: Protective mask for spray painting becomes an anti-virus mask during a pandemic.

ELIMINATE

Scrap part of the process to increase efficiency. Streamlining the approach will save money and time.
Example: laptops with no CD/DVD drives.

REVERSE/REARRANGE

Reverse the direction of a process/product so that it is completely against its original purpose. When you reverse the way a product is used, it will help you see things from a different perspective.
Example: Company goes from a top-down approach to a bottom-up approach.

SCAMPER technique infographic for product development

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