George Torok, professional speaker, executive consultant, business author

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George Torok, specialist in thinking and communication skills.   Articles for Business Professionals

SCAMPER - seven tools to being creative

"Companies are increasingly falling into two categories - those that are innovative and those who go out of business"    Dan Branda
   CEO HP Canada

A company should never be satisfied with its products and services. You must always be innovating. Hewlett Packard began with $500 in cash and recently hit the $25 B sales mark.

To be more creative use the SCAMPER tool.

Substitute: Substitute one of the components for some other material. Automotive manufacturers substituted plastic for metal to reduce weight to improve mileage. They are now substituting with lighter stronger steel. Look at the construction industry where materials have been substituted for cement, metal, wood and plastic. E.g. metal studs, plastic pipes, wood foundations…

Combine: Combine two or more concepts that do not normally go together. The Earl of Sandwich slapped a piece of meat on a slice of bread centuries ago and created the sandwich. Guttenburg changed the world when he combined a wine press with a coin stamp creating the first printing press which spawned the first information age. Walk down the soup aisle at the grocery store to see some unusual combinations.

Adapt: Zenon Environmental adapted nature's principle of osmosis to create a water purification system which is sold around the world. A Swiss inventor discovered the principle of hooks and loops by observing how burs clung to clothing, then adapted that to create Velcro. Individuals who are downsized learn to adapt their skills as entrepreneurs.

Modify - Minimize/ Maximize: Chrysler launched the successful mini-van by making vans a little smaller. Retail was revitalized by making stores bigger with the big box store. Radio maximizes news content to become a 24 hr news station. The blossoming investment market is the result of people attempting to maximize their retirement wealth. Health and beauty services and products promise to minimize the effects of aging.

Put to another use: After SPAR Aerospace sold NASA all the Canadarms that were needed, they looked around for another market. They put their arm to another use by selling it as a backhoe for use by the US military in cleaning up old missile silo sites. I remember watching the TV show McIver to see what new use he would create for duct tape.

Erase - eliminate: Take out the parts that don't add value. Food companies do this with Caffeine-free, no-salt, and sugarless. Eliminate excess packing to reduce costs and environmental waste. Remove steps in the process that annoys customers. A buyer for a medium sized institution told me they achieved a better price than a much larger buyer because they eliminated unnecessary paperwork in the transaction.

Reverse - rearrange: Which came first - the microscope or the telescope? One is just the reverse of the other. Try reversing perceptions. If people hate going to the dentist - then reverse the perception by making it an enjoyable experience. My dentist introduced himself by his first name and showed me the underwater photos he took scuba diving.