Methods to enhance innovative thinking


A good idea can come from anywhere, but often we need to find ways to help us build on an initial idea to help it take shape, or add-in something original which might, ultimately, make a big difference.

In some cases, we are working on an existing challenge, in other cases we are starting with a completely blank piece of paper to create something new. In both situations, creativity tools can really help us to unlock a problem and achieve a breakthrough.

At Shell, we use many different innovation techniques to help us solve these challenges. Across our business divisions we are encouraged to approach problems creatively and draw on external sources of inspiration.

As the deadline for submitting an idea draws near, we wanted to share one of the methods we use to come up with bright ideas.


SCAMPER is an ideation technique which allows you to look at a challenge using a different lens: to stretch an idea, to twist it or mash-it up with another concept.

Developed in the US by Bob Eberle, who worked in education, it was designed to help children and teachers boost their natural creativity.

So what does it mean? Well, SCAMPER is an acronym where each letter gives you a different instruction. You can brainstorm different ideas using each instruction, either on your own, or as a team. For example:




Magnify (or modify)?

Put to other uses?


Rearrange (or reverse)?

Let’s see this in action:

Imagine you work for a pen manufacturer. Your team has been asked to come up with a new product. A new pen designed for kids. So using SCAMPER, here are some ideas you might come up with to help you design an original product…

S (substitute) use a non-stain gel vs. ink?

C (combine) double-ended with a pencil

A (adapt) body like a screwdriver grip

M (modify/magnify) make ball-point x 3 bigger

P (put to other use) a pen that makes 3D models

E (eliminate) ink-less pen? No lid needed?

R (reverse/rearrange) removes the writing


Try this yourself, see if you can come up with some other ideas for a new type of pen, or pick a new challenge.