In my previous post, I discussed SCAMPER – one of the most effective creative thinking methodologies that can be tested out on any challenge, opportunity, or product in need of great ideas. But how is this actually applied in real life?
Let’s take our example, a Parisian café looking for a way to wow the crowds.
Step 1: Breakdown
Break the problem down to its most basic elements and list them. It may seem obvious when you think about it, but it really helps to have the different building blocks in front of your eyes – just as it is easier to play chess with pieces on an actual board, rather than structures in your mind.
A Parisian café would be a place to eat, socialize, do business, and of course – drink coffee; it comprises tables, chairs, a bar, etc; you’d serve hot drinks, cold drinks, appetizers and more…. you get the rest.
Once you’ve broken your question down to attributes and elements, it’s time for…
Step 2: SCAMPER!
Essentially, each of the below is a way to apply structured manipulation on the elements you’ve listed.
Here are some sample ideas using SCAMPER:
So – which of these ideas did the newly established Parisian café choose to ground a competitive advantage? Here’s your answer. Based on a Russian concept, the café allows its patrons to do anything – eat, drink, talk business, play, anything – all for a few euros an hour. The emphasis is shifted from eating/drinking to socializing, creating a multi-functional space for exploration.
If you use SCAMPER to analyze the idea, you will find there’s more than one link to the final idea (eliminate payment for food; compensate by charging for time; combine a café with a boardroom/living room; rearrange the process to payment first, then eating; etc.).
The real strength of this method is the straightforward way to create wide variety of ideas on the way to that brilliant solution. Many of SCAMPER’s manipulations may seem funny at first (“Café with free food? Weird!”), and this is where they draw their power – from the effort to get out of our usual patterns, into uncharted creative territory.