What is S.C.A.M.P.E.R and how to apply it?

What is S.C.A.M.P.E.R and how to apply it?


Life has never been a bed of roses, the onset of Covid 19 has definitely reinstated this in us in more ways than one. And as we face different challenges, we human beings go about our ‘doings’ and ‘beings’; scampering around between work and play, often putting life and living together.

Problems are a part and parcel of life. Barely do we get through one, there’s a tray of freshly baked “problem cookies” awaiting us, ready to be served! When faced with a problem, what do we usually do? For starters, we worry and scamper around trying to fix it! But fixing it seems easier said than done. The “problem cookie” awaits a solution! How do we solve it then? How do we ‘rack’ our brains and come up with ‘creative’ and ‘novel’ solutions?

Now! now! Please don’t get the chills with words like ‘novel’ and ‘creative’! We all have creative ingenuity in us. Trust me you do not need to be a Van Gough to paint your creative canvas; a right nudge and a twitch of those grey cells could do the trick!

The best part about problem-solving is that you quite literally stumble upon hidden opportunities while brainstorming. Every problem is an opportunity to better your product, service, or process.

And that brings us to S.C.A.M.P.E.R.

It is an acronym. Interestingly, though created by Bob Eberle in the early 70s, it still holds true. A toolkit focused on the process of finding unique and creative solutions to problems with the purpose of improving a product or service.

Why use S.C.A.M.P.E.R?

The S.C.A.M.P.E.R. toolkit allows one to assess the existing product or process and determine how to enhance its value. It helps us to think ‘out of the box’  without any inhibitions by approaching it in different ways.

Using the S.C.A.M.P.E.R technique can reveal bottlenecks and limitations in current practices and helps develop solutions to overcome them. Let’s decode S.C.A.M.P.E.R :

Deciding the Toolkit and More

The seven S.C.A.M.P.E.R. ingredients are:

• Substitute

This is where a part of your product, service, or process could be replaced with another to see whether it can be further improved. This will help you test which option works better, just like a trial-and-error process.

For example, during COVID-19 people have Substituted surgical face masks with cloth face masks to enhance comfort.

• Combine

One idea might not work solo, but you could combine several ideas, processes, or products into one for a more efficient outcome. You don’t have to come up with something completely new, because the solution(s) already exists. Like a hamburger effect!

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For example, the pandemic has brought in the hybrid form of working in most organizations globally. Employees are allowed to combine workdays partly from home and partly from office.

• Adapt

Mostly you would already have had the right solution to your problem, you just don’t know it yet. Sometimes an idea that worked to solve one problem, could also be used to solve a different problem.

For example, thanks to the Covid situation, schools have adapted their curriculum for virtual modes of learning.

• Modify
Change an aspect of your product or service, for example by magnifying, i.e., exaggerating or minimizing them, and see whether it gives you a new insight or adds more value to the user.

For example, denim pockets magnified to be bigger in size to accommodate your large-screen smartphones or minimized to tuck in a key.

• Put to another use

Think of how you might be able to put your current product or service to other uses or think of what you could reuse from somewhere else to solve your problem. Many times, an idea only becomes great when applied differently than first imagined.

For example, toothpaste can be an amazing ingredient to polish up not just your pearly white teeth but your silverware too! It is also used as a quick first aid for minor burns because of its cooling properties.

• Eliminate

It’s about removing inefficient parts of a process or features of your products or services with a goal to streamline them. Through repeated tweaking of ideas, features, or processes, you can gradually zero in on those functions or features that are most important.

For example, when the pandemic was ongoing, many organizations were trying to find out ways to deliver their products and services with minimum or no contact. This ranged from delivery of essentials and meals to the dissemination of exams and elections. Several innovative practices emerged as a result of these efforts.

• Reverse

Think of what you would do if part of your problem, product, or process worked in reverse or were done in a different order. Sometimes when you reverse the way a product is used, it will help you see things from a different perspective.

For example, McDonald’s pioneered self-service where payment is done first for the service. Hence reversing the process of service.

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So now that we have a look and feel of S.C.A.M.P.E.R, why don’t we try and apply this toolkit to a work problem. Are you game?

Arlene is a baker by chance, handmade bespoke products are her forte; she now wants to reach a greater audience in the city. This would surely boost her revenue and brand.

Take a look at how Arlene uses the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. toolkit to approach her problem statement. Below are some points for reflection:

  • Can you spot how Arlene uses the SCAMPER toolkit for products, processes, and services?
  • What else would you suggest to Arlene?


  • Could Arlene use other delivery partners for her deliveries?
  • Could Arlene substitute specific ingredients to cater to special dietary requirements?
  • Should Arlene change the shape, colour, design of her goodies


  • What product combos can Arlene design to make it more saleable?
  • Could she combine a few flavours to create some unique seasonal preparations?
  • Could she collaborate with influencers to expand her brand reach?


  • Can Arlene adapt her baking skills to cater to our furry friends as well?
  • Can Arlene seek inspiration from other products like savouries and macaroons?
  • Which ideas could she adapt from other bakers?


  • Could she explore molecular baking?
  • Could Arlene offer maximum healthier options on the menu ?
  • Could she exaggerate or overstate the designs, colours, size etc…?

Put to other use

  • Could she raise funds for Covid by hosting a baking event?
  • Could she use the leftovers to make delicious healthy snacks?
  • Could Arlene run baking workshops for special needs children?


  • Could Arlene eliminate plastic and use sustainable eco-friendly baking tools in her kitchen?
  • Could she source her ingredients at wholesale prices to eliminate unwanted costs?
  • Could she do away with last minute baking requests to ensure quality over quantity?


  • Can she change the pace or timeline for orders and deliveries?
  • Could she reorder the baking process or design or style?
  • Could Arlene first fix her delivery partners and then focus on expanding her business?

We hope you enjoy applying S.C.A.M.P.E.R in everything you do and stumble upon new possibilities in problem solving. Happy learning and exploring!

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