Wouldn’t it be amazing if creativity had an on/off switch?
What if you could turn the creativity on when you need to come up with a shiny new idea, then flip it off once the problem is solved? Unfortunately, there is no “on” switch, and being creative on command isn’t always easy.
Here’s the thing: every problem has more than one creative solution. The challenge is finding them when you feel stuck in a creative rut, surrounded by the same old ideas you can’t seem to get away from.
When this happens, it’s important to shake things up. No, really. Flip the problem on its head and look at it upside down. Did you try looking at it backward? By seeing the problem from different angles, we can find different solutions we hadn’t thought of before. Enter SCAMPER.
SCAMPER is a method for creative thinking and problem-solving.
In its entirety, it stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use (yes, this is a stretch for an acronym), Eliminate, Reverse. It is a framework of questions that make you shift your perspective.
Think of it like looking at a painting in a museum. Chances are, you are only viewing it from one angle and just absorbing meaning from that single perspective. Now imagine you are looking at a painting, but you have paint brushes, a full palette of paints, and you can flip the frame any way you want. What could it become? What could happen? It sounds confusing, but with a concrete scenario, it’s much easier to wrap your head around.
The Posture crew decided to try out this strategy at a recent creative meeting. We challenged ourselves to solve this unique problem:
We’re working with an eccentric artist who specializes in garden gnomes. We need to sell 17 more custom gnomes in the next two weeks.
How would you initially try to take on this seemingly impossible task? Looking at this scenario head-on, it sounds super daunting. That’s more than a gnome a day. A shift in perspective, however, can help you to see that it doesn’t have to be a one-way ticket to closing up shop.
Should we consider substituting some of the customization options? What if we offered a limited-time hat color for the next two weeks only?
Can we combine offers to entice people to customize a gnome? Perhaps free shipping or a gift with purchase would sweeten the deal and make customers more likely to customize.
Can we adapt our ordering process to make it easier and faster for people to customize their gnomes?
Can we modify the design of the gnomes and announce a new and improved version?
Put To Another Use
Can we put this deadline to another use? Plaster it all over all of our marketing and social media. YOU ONLY HAVE 2 WEEKS to order the BEST custom gnome. Create a sense of urgency in the customer base, not internally.
What if we temporarily eliminated the basic off-the-rack gnomes from our store and customization was the only option?
What would happen if we reverse the way we’re counting as a tactic for motivation? Instead of counting up, count down from 17 to trick our brains into thinking it’s a downhill coast and not an uphill battle.
In this scenario, I personally think the winning approach would be combining with another offer and putting the deadline to another use by creating a sense of urgency. Fire away those reminder emails for free shipping with lots of emojis in the subject line.
The goal of SCAMPERing isn’t to necessarily find THE solution, but to think critically about every facet of what a solution could be. You can use it to get yourself out of a mental rut, whether that rut is in the form of a video edit, a logo design, or a tricky piece of copy. The win with SCAMPERing is that even if you don’t find a solution that works, you challenge your perspective and exercise your creativity.
If you want to try SCAMPERing for yourself, test the method out with these wonderful and wacky prompts:
- We have an ad campaign running for tooth whitening products featuring a vampire influencer from New Orleans. It’s not getting a lot of conversions.
- A disgruntled person left a bombastic 1-star review for our previously unknown specialty juice cafe. People are piling on and it’s spreading like wildfire.