Background: The invention of SCAMPER is attributed to Bob Eberle, author of books about creativity for children aimed at teachers. His book Scamper is out of print but a follow-up Scamper On is available.


SCAMPER is an acronym for seven thinking techniques that help those who use them come up untypical solutions to problems. The thinking techniques are so common to human creative behavior that it might be more accurate to call SCAMPER a mnemonic for the collection of techniques rather than a technique of its own.

A variation of SCAMPER includes an eighth technique and is therefore called SCAMPERR.

How to Use SCAMPER

At any point in a creative-thinking situation, alone or in a group, novel solutions emerge when those involved force themselves to think in an arbitrarily different way. For that reason, using any or all of the seven thinking approaches listed below will help those who use them produce surprising and sometimes very useful results.

Keep in mind the principal of force fitting. If you can't think of anything in response to the SCAMPER prompt you're using, then force a response, no matter how ridiculous it seems, and think of ways to make the non-logical response work.

S Substitute

Remove some part of the accepted situation, thing, or concept and replace it with something else.

C Combine

Join, affiliate, or force together two or more elements of your subject matter and consider ways that such a combination might move you toward a solution.

A Adapt

Change some part of your problem so that it works where it did not before.

M Modify

Consider many of the attribute of the thing you're working on and change them, arbitrarily, if necessary. Attributes include: size, shape, other dimensions, texture, color, attitude, position, history, and so on.

P Purpose (Put to other use)

Modify the intention of the subject. Think about why it exists, what it is used for, what it's supposed to do. Challenge all of these assumptions and suggest new and unusual purposes.

E Eliminate

Arbitrarily remove any or all elements of your subject, simplify, reduce to core functionality

R Reverse

Change the direction or orientation. Turn it upside-down, inside-out, or make it go backwards, against the direction it was intended to go or be used.

R Rearrange

Similar to Reverse, modify the order of operations or any other hierarchy involved.

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