Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Problem Solving Techniques: Get Your Creative Thinking Juices Flowing By Using The SCAMPER Technique

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If you, like me, think that life is an ongoing learning opportunity and possibly the most interesting part of our lifetime-long journey, you must have already realized how critical it is to be able to think outside of the box when it comes to problem-solving times.

Photo credit: felinda

While most people associate creativity with artistic work, being really creative really means being able to cope with issues and problems in novel and innovative ways. Of course when you apply that concept to painting or music and the problem is how to create something people like, it seems that such an endeavour is reserved to those communicating and expressing themselves through the arts.

But it isn't so.

Your plummer can be as creative or more than your favorite rock start or painter, if he can get around unexpected problems and situations in simple, effective and enjoyable ways. What happens in his head when he needs to find a way to solve your unique sink problem is the same process that takes place in a musician's head when she wants to find a better outro after the refrain of her new song.

The more you have trained yourself in the habit of thinking creatively the easier and more enjoyable it becomes to face and clear up any type of problem one meets. The more you strengthen your ability to question, imagine, and adapt, the easier it becomes for you to realize that there are no unsolvable problems or lack of new ideas to open a new path.

You just need some specific approach that gets you to think outside of your traditional thinking patterns.

SCAMPER is a technique you can use to spark your creativity and problem-solving abilities. First conceived by Bob Earle, and later popularized by Michael Michalko in his book Thinkertoys, the SCAMPER method allows anyone to strengthen his ability to question, imagine,and adapt even in situations where it would seem that there are no more creative options available.

At its very essence, SCAMPER is a powerful checklist of suggestions that prompts you to think and look at things in different ways. It has been designed to force you to think differently about your problem and to eventually come up with some really innovative solutions. SCAMPER core idea is based on the notion that creative work, original ideas and most everything you define as "new" is nothing else but a remix of something that is already out there.

Here my visual interpretation of the SCAMPER creative thinking approach with some of my own very personal suggestions.



Photo credit: Michael Deutch - Go to the article - Download map template


Problem Solving: The SCAMPER Technique


S - Substitute


Components, materials, people

Substitute your typical recipe of ingredients by changing a few ones. Introduce a new guy in the team or let John play the female part this time.


C - Combine


Mix, combine with other assemblies or services, integrate

Mashup, juxtapose and bring together elements and resources that can complement or enrich each other in new and novel ways. Like for a cool cocktail drink, selecting and mixing well ingredients can make a hell of difference.


A - Adapt


Alter, change function, use part of another element

Think sideways and utilize tools and ideas within new contexts and situations. Use car driving to think, or a drum bell to create a cheap steadycam for your mini camcorder.


M - Mix, Modify


Increase or reduce in scale, change shape, modify attributes (e.g. colour)

Look at the micro and macro viewpoints of it or start watching it from an unusual position. Look at it with different eyes.


P - Put to Another Use


Change application, use for different purpose

Break the rules and rethink the use and application an object can have. A bottle can be a flower vase just like a dismissed airplane can be a pretty original restaurant (I have been in one and I don't think I am going to ever forget.)


E - Erase / Eliminate


Remove elements, simplify, reduce to core functionality

Distill, extract the essence. Take off everything that is not relevant or needed. And then more. That's what I teach when I do information design: eliminate, turn off, mute. Leave only what really counts.


R - RePurpose / ReverseReUse


Turn inside out or upside down

Diana Ross would have it this way:


Find More About the SCAMPER Technique:

Inspired by the work of Bob Earle, Michael Michalko, Angela Maiers and Michael Deutch. Originally written by for MasterNewMedia and first published on May 13th, 2009 as "Problem Solving Techniques: Get Your Creative Thinking Juices Flowing By Using The SCAMPER Technique".

Photo credits:
S - Substitute - itestro
C - Combine - Xiao Fang Hu
A - Adapt - dragerphot
M - Mix, Modify - Jozsef Szasz-Fabian
P - Put to Another Use - Nikolai Sorokin
E - Erase / Eliminate -Dariusz Majgier
R - RePurpose / ReverseReUse - Tommy Ingberg

Robin Good -
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posted by Daniele Bazzano on Wednesday, May 13 2009, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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