A prodigious technique: SCAMPER
Scamper is one of the most employed techniques when generating ideas. It goes beyond the classic brainstorming because it proposes, from the very beginning, nine variations that we may apply to any concept either to change it or alter it essentially: substitute, combine, adapt, modify, magnify, propose something for other uses, eliminate, revert and reorder. As you see, initials (two of them repeated, m and r) form the word SCAMPER. Let us imagine that we want to think creatively about napkins. If we apply SCAMPER step by step, we will find that:
Substitute: the shape (square by round) or the paper type (softer and pleasant);
Combine: the napkin may have a slight lavender aroma, for instance;
Adapt: if we consider luxurious restaurants, we could make napkins look like high quality cloth;
Modify: what about fluorescent napkins?;
Magnify: for restaurants that may want to challenge conventionalisms, we could make giant towel-like napkins;
Propose napkins for other uses: collectable napkins;
Eliminate: restaurants or bars without napkins may force us to be more careful while eating or drinking;
Revert: napkins which do not get dirty when we use them or that are self-cleaning;
Reorder: bibs instead of napkins.
SCAMPER allows us to see reality from different perspectives, and that automatically makes us more creative. We should respect the basic rules: we should not criticize the craziest ideas as they come to us, and we should come along with our most divergent or collateral abilities: it is more valuable to express an extravagant idea than say something that already exists.
Practising SCAMPER in teams is always more fruitful than doing it individually, of course. If we go to a store fraught with many goods, such as a supermarket, we will quickly realize that almost everything is SCAMPER. Candies which are combinations of the same candy and a candy cane, bigger yoghurts, smaller bottles or large water cans of colours different from the usual ones.
SCAMPER helps us search ideas that make our products or services different from others, and it is also useful for expanding and varying the products we already have.
Let us apply SCAMPER to the Catalonian Parliament (easily applicable to any other country or region of the world):
Substitute: speeches to be projected on PowerPoint or videos;
Combine: politicians with intellectuals or other people who may have contributions to be made;
Adapt: end up with the stiffness of chairs and seats to make them more swivel and flexible so as to increase participation and teamwork;
Modify: change dull colours for vivid ones;
Magnify: a big screen to make the Parliament much more audiovisual;
Propose the Parliament for other uses: while politicians are not giving their speeches, they should do some useful activities instead of not paying attention or getting asleep.
Eliminate: shouts, threats, tense tones, ultimatums, wry faces, ill-mannered people…;
Revert: hold Parliament sessions in citizens’ familiar places: hospitals, schools, universities…;
Reorder: force politicians to go to the Parliament by bike;
Thinking SCAMPER removes cobwebs from our mind: it is the SCAMPER way of life.