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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… and Apply the SCAMPER Technique


I recently had a thought process that I wanted to share… I promise it ends with something useful!

I was initially reflecting on Earth Day, which is coming up soon, and thought about how the motto of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” can be applied to our work – our processes, tasks, and even people.

My mind then wandered to the recent pandemic and how organizations will need to be better optimized in the future if they want to be able to overcome another dynamic shift like that one.

From there, my mind immediately went to large-scale optimization, and I wanted to share a technique that anyone can use to help them determine what they can reduce, reuse, and recycle in the immediate future. (I hope you followed that thought process, lol!)

The SCAMPER Technique is a team brainstorming technique used to develop or improve products or services. SCAMPER is an acronym for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify/Magnify, Purpose, Eliminate/Minimize and Rearrange/Reverse.



What can be replaced? For example, components, materials, people.

Example: If you were making windows for a children’s playhouse, you might substitute plastic for glass (for safety).



What can be combined? For example, other features or devices.

Example: Cell phones have combined phone features with cameras.



What can be added? Consider new elements or functions.

Example: Cars now have built-in WiFi.


Modify, Magnify, Maximize, Minimize

What can be modified? For example, change the size, shape, color, or other attribute

Example: Sunglasses reduced in size for babies or small children.


Purpose (Put to Other Use)

Could you put the product to a different use, or use it in another industry?

Example: During COVID19 pandemic, coffee filters being used as filters in masks for faces


Eliminate (or Minimize)

What can be removed or simplified?

Example: Removing cigarette lighters from cars (to be able to use the space for charging devices?)


Reverse, Re-Engineer, or Rearrange

What would happen if you reversed the product’s production process? What can be swapped or flipped?

Example: Fast food restaurants rearranged the typical eat then pay model to pay then eat.

A great way to start implementing SCAMPER is to play a warmup game with it. Grab a few random objects: a funny hat, a belt, a chair, some craft items, etc. Gather your team in a room and throw the objects on the floor (or if virtual, show them on camera). Have them start to ask questions based on SCAMPER.  

SCAMPER Technique Template Download

Download our job aid template for a quick guide to using this technique in your organization. 

Now try it on your real project! Take a product, an aspect of a product, or a process and run it through SCAMPER. The answers will probably be diverse and will typically include ideas that are not practical, do not suit, or even are silly.  That’s ok and is actually good! The goal is to generate as many ideas as possible, and often the most brilliant ideas can come from them.

You might also find that you can reduce some of your work, reuse elements of what you already have, recycle ideas into a new purpose… or reinvent a solution based on the old.

— Ali

Editor’s Note: This blog post was has been previously published by B2T on our previous website. Due to its popularity, aLI has updated its content to be more comprehensive and accurate for the state of today’s environment.

Ali Cox


Alison (Ali) Cox has experience since the mid-1980s in various areas, including business agility, business analysis, project methodology development and training, systems development (mainframe, client-server, and web), and telecommunication expense management. She began her career in the financial services area, and then moved into systems development for accounting systems.

Ali has lived through IT and operational initiatives from waterfall to implementing agile in her own small business, then helping other companies do the same through training and mentoring. She believes that having the small business mentality (everyone has to pitch in on everything) is the right kind of mindset for all organizations, no matter the size or industry.

Ali is the author of Business Analysis for Dummies, 2nd Edition.