Why do I want to fit Principles into SCAMPER approaches?
In a recent post (check it here first) I explore how SCAMPER can embrace the 40 Principles of Inventive Problem Solving. The goal is to wrap the complexity of the Principles in the approachability of SCAMPER.
Adapt defined in Applied Imagination
Under the category of Adapt, Alex Osborn proposed the following questions in his book Applied Imagination:
- What else is like this?
- What other idea does this suggest?
- Does past offer parallel?
- What could I copy?
- Whom could I emulate?
40 Principles within Adapt
The adapt category of SCAMPER is a catch-all. It is another way of framing the questions posed by the other categories, namely substitution, combination, modification, put to another use, eliminate and rearrange.
The A in SCAMPER is redundant: A=SCMPER. The A in SCAMPER thus embodies all the 40 Principles. The construction of the 40 Principles is to adapt the ideas found in innovation elsewhere.
Redundant but useful?
The adapt category provides an alternate route that may prompt the person or team brainstorming to come up with a good idea.
If there are two paths to the same place, the second one may be redundant but still have its uses.
Imagine being a sketch artist. You are asking a witness to describe the suspect’s mouth, nose, hair etc. At the end you may ask if there is anything else that would help identify the suspect. This question is “redundant” because theoretically you covered everything, but the witness may surprise you with a key piece of information.
Thinking through this post reminded me of when I was in the car trying to explain the concept of infinity to my then six-year old son, who wasn’t getting the joke embedded in Buzz Lightyear’s Toy Story catchphrase – “To infinity and beyond.”
Shortly after I began my explanation James blurted, “Oh! Infinity is bigger than all the numbers because it is all the numbers combined!” This remains my favourite explanation of infinity.
It also neatly explains why adapt is not like the other categories in SCAMPER – it is all the other categories combined.