SCAMPER in Design Thinking and Engineering

Using SCAMPER Tool is so very compelling for carrying out brainstorm – that too, in a structured manner (not restrictive, yet in an organized way). A meaning of SCAMPER as a word, dictionary meaning, is “to run with quick light steps especially in the presence of either fear or excitement”. On the path of developing a product while carrying out a series of exercises under coursework of Design Engineering, the absolute meaning of the word is not at supposed to be followed precisely.

The S.C.A.M.P.E.R of Design Engineering (course at GTU) included learning and exploring of a tool that was proposed by Alex Osborne in the year 1953 and was further developed by Bob Eberle in the year 1971 in his book. The book was aiming to held developing something through imagination available online for further reference and reading.

In the following text, the meaning of the words – product/process/systems/human actions is similar to a part of the exercise unless specified. While using this tool, let the brain run and follow the dictionary meaning of the word – SCAMPER.


The Exercise of SCAMPER as the word is reflecting summaries of:

  • Substitute
  • Combine
  • Adapt
  • Modify
  • Put to another use (Alternative uses)
  • Eliminate
  • Reverse

It is envisaged by the university that the tools should be used for generation of more of ideas while refinement of a product or development of a product is exercised. The tool is introduced as an exercise at a stage of “Application of Design Thinking” in Semester IV. It is aiming at bringing our more of choices available at the end of a students’ team working on a theme/product/process.


(Image Source:

While there is an existing mechanism for performing any task is in front, one should apply the S.C.A.M.P.E.R to check for an evolution of a better alternative. Ideas and products that are existing already may have a combination/substitution/elimination of certain components/revere of part-mechanism. The possibilities are to be visualised on a blank large sized paper by making a tree-diagram. Thinking in an iterative manner (repetitive manner) is necessarily required – instead, its the heart of the entire exercise.

While making the central idea/product in the centre of the working paper, each dimension of S.C.A.M.P.E.R is thought of separately. Earmarking words are identified and made a connection with each of abbreviated first word (check out exemplary image included herewith).

The suggest for posing specific questions before thinking over the theme. The listed below intriguing questions a for example and not necessarily be kept limited for thinking iterations.


  • What materials or resources can you substitute or swap to improve the product?
  • What other product or process could you use?
  • What rules could you substitute?
  • Can you use this product somewhere else, or as a substitute for something else?
  • What will happen if you change your feelings or attitude toward this product?


  • What would happen if you combined this product with another, to create something new?
  • What if you combined purposes or objectives?
  • What could you combine to maximize the uses of this product?
  • How could you combine talent and resources to create a new approach to this product?


  • How could you adapt or readjust this product to serve another purpose or use?
  • What else is the product like?
  • Who or what could you emulate to adapt this product?
  • What else is like your product?
  • What other context could you put your product into?
  • What other products or ideas could you use for inspiration?


  • How could you change the shape, look, or feel of your product?
  • What could you add to modify this product?
  • What could you emphasize or highlight to create more value?
  • What element of this product could you strengthen to create something new?

Put to Another Use

  • Can you use this product somewhere else, perhaps in another industry?
  • Who else could use this product?
  • How would this product behave differently in another setting?
  • Could you recycle the waste from this product to make something new?


  • How could you streamline or simplify this product?
  • What features, parts, or rules could you eliminate?
  • What could you understate or tone down?
  • How could you make it smaller, faster, lighter, or more fun?
  • What would happen if you took away part of this product? What would you have in its place?


  • What would happen if you reversed this process or sequenced things differently?
  • What if you try to do the exact opposite of what you’re trying to do now?
  • What components could you substitute to change the order of this product?
  • What roles could you reverse or swap?
  • How could you reorganize this product?

So far, the SCAMPER Tool based thinking can be summarised for various empowering dimensions that the thoughts may lead forward to. A diagrammatic representation of these dimensions can be visualised in the image below.


(Image Source: Unknown, yet

The SCAMPER tool is a structured tree-mapping technique based on mind mapping. The thoughts are to be allowed in a given restricted context (but allowing for all possibilities – logical or seem illogical at first instance) and whatsoever alternative scenarios are generated in the imagination, must be written in the form of a word.

IMPORTANT: Once the paper is full of words, the team can now think over for reducing human difficulties that can be visualised or refinement in an existing product can be considered of. These thoughts need to be written in the LOG-BOOK so that the ideas/interventions generated instantaneously are not lost/forgot. The extensive level of brain involvement in a specific context will never take place, so one needs to be very very careful about recording the thoughts.

For a brief understanding, one may like to listen to a talk (Video recording of about 20.00 minutes) that we had in a classroom with students.

Leave your comments/questions in the space allocated below on this page.


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‘SCAMPER in Design Thinking and Engineering’ by Bhasker Vijaykumar Bhatt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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