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SCAMPER is an acroynm for a set of tasks used in solving business problems. It stands for substitute, combine, adapt, modify, put to other uses, eliminate and rearrange. Participants in a SCAMPER brainstorming session use a group of directed questions to fix a current problem or take advantage of a new opportunity. Businesses around the world have used SCAMPER for its ability to encourage creative thinking, but the technique has nearly as many drawbacks as it has advantages.
The SCAMPER method is mostly applied toward boosting the creativity of its participants. The processes of partitioning, rearranging and combining different components of a business procedure allows participants to examine each step and determine how the entire procedure can be more efficient, more profitable and more enjoyable. SCAMPER techniques remove the limits of long-held assumptions and frees the participants' minds to look in unexpected places for the answers to their business needs.
Generates New Ideas
SCAMPER participants are also encouraged to come up with new and innovative solutions. These brainstorming sessions can reveal where obstacles and bottlenecks occur in current practices and develop solutions to combat these barriers. This "outside-the-box" thinking allows participants to identify if the obstacles stem from mechanical, procedural or cultural issues within the company. Participants can then propose alternative solutions, test out their concepts and apply those that work into creating more effective processes .
Works Only in Limited Environments
A major drawback of the SCAMPER method is that its effectiveness is limited to companies that encourage free-form thinking. When managers and executives maintains an allegiance to the status quo, they will be hesitant to embrace the changes that the SCAMPER technique will propose. If the business processes are not so easily disassembled to allow for substitutions, eliminations and rearrangements, SCAMPER sessions will also not be as effective.
Discourages Group Unity
While the SCAMPER process does encourage groups to think creatively, it can also lead to a time-sink in which participants argue incessantly over minute details. The free exchange of ideas on business processes can bring about new solutions, but it can also create divisions among the group who will campaign for one set of solutions over another, without any substantial measurement as to which solution is the most efficient. These arguments can fuel discord within the group and fail to deliver the hoped-for solutions.
Living in Houston, Gerald Hanks has been a writer since 2008. He has contributed to several special-interest national publications. Before starting his writing career, Gerald was a web programmer and database developer for 12 years.