Creativity and Business Model Innovation (part 2)

flickrThis week I am looking at different ways we can put the innovation back into business model innovation. Taking the approach that creativity in thinking can be done deliberately, I’m applying various deliberate creative thinking techniques to what is now becoming the familiar area of business model generation, lean startups and customer development. Last week I looked at using the TERMS Star for putting your value innovation into hyper drive, today I’ll take a look at using SCAMPER to power up your disruption when pivoting from one business model to another.

What happened to Game Neverending?

Game Neverending (GNE) was a web based massively multiplayer online game launched in late 2002 and shutdown in 2004. Designed to be user extensible, the game encouraged real time browser chat with players leaving messages and game objects for each other at various locations. With poorly defined gameplay (there wasn’t even really a concept of winning), players quickly developed strong social connections with lots of humour and quite a few pictures being exchanged along with the intended gaming objects. By 2004, the site had relaunched as Flickr.

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What to do with your lotto win

I should clarify that this post does not apply to tonight’s Australian lotto, which I am going to win. But for next week’s lotto and those played elsewhere there is quite a lot of advice on what to do with your winnings. If like me you intent to strike it big, you should check out what my fellow millionaires had to say. Here are some of the main points:

  • Manage your risk: your main goal should be to protect your capital, and figure out safe ways of living off the interest.
  • Diversify your holdings: don’t stick all your eggs in one basket, choose lots of safe baskets instead. And then buy the basket making factory
  • Tax Evasion: find as many legal ways as you can to ‘shelter’ from or otherwise avoid paying tax. This applies to your payout, and to any money you will make from now on. It seems to work a treat for Google, Amazon and Starbucks, check here for more

And here are two far more important points that I picked up somewhere else:

  • If you’re not happy now, being rich is not going to change that
  • People are going to start to expect much cooler christmas presents

What does this have to do with innovation?

Plenty. Let’s start with a look at a popular attribute based creative thinking technique called SCAMPER (see Michael Michalko‘s book Thinkertoys):

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Using SCAMPER to Play with your Business

Today’s post is a work in progress. I’ve been thinking about developing toys and games to apply lateral thinking to business. Today’s exploration is about SCAMPER, and Rory’s Story Cubes, and TRIZ.


Bob Eberle developed SCAMPER as an educational tool for improving imagination and creativity in children; the acronym stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, Rearrange). The basic idea is to use each of the prompts as a starting point for exploring some idea, for example:

  • Challenge: how can we get executive teams to enjoy creating business strategy?
  • Combine: what if we combined executive away days with children’s parties…a bouncy castle might be a good ice breaker, asking children for their ideas might provide a new perspective, setting up a stall and telling a five year old your business strategy whilst doing some face painting might improve your elevator pitch

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SCAMPER revisited

SCAMPER: noun, to run playfully about…as a child; acronym, Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, Rearrange

Bob Eberle was an educational administrator from Edwardsville, IL. In 1991 he developed SCAMPER, an educational tool designed to improve imagination and creativity in children. You can get the get the teachers resource kit here, it has some really cool stuff in it. Drawing on the work of Dr Frank E. Williams, Eberle set out to improve creative imagination in two ways:

  • Thinking – should be fluent (lots of ideas), flexible (ideas which can adapt), and elaborate (the ability to add detail to ideas)
  • Feelings – to develop curiosity, willingness to take calculated risks, preference for complexity, and intuition
Eberle noted that our schools seem to educate the creativity out of our children instead of into them. SCAMPER was designed to change that. Another great speaker on the problem of our schools educating the creativity out of our children is Sir Ken Robinson. His fantastic speech on the subject, ‘are our schools killing creativity?‘ can be found on TED here, and has been set to some quite exquisite animation here. I urge you to view these.
SCAMPER is still in use in a wide number of schools today, and has since been taken on by grown ups the world over as a generally useful creative thinking tool. This post will explain how it works, and how you can learn to use it better.

Provocative Statements

Today’s post continues my series on Disrupted Thinking, in which I’ll be posting lots of different approaches for disrupting logical thinking. Today is all about stating the ridiculous. Also known as a Provocation Operation.

Underwater Hockey

In her rather excellent blog, Katie Konrath tells the story of a snorkeling club coming up with the idea for underwater hockey to make their boring winter pool time a bit more interesting. Starting with the knowledge that people don’t like snorkeling in the pool (because it’s boring) and retrospectively applying Edward de Bono’s Provocation Operation Katie imagines the club saying ‘PO: people want to go snorkeling in the pool’. From here the club innovators could have deliberately set about finding ways to make people actually want to go snorkeling in the pool. And so underwater hockey is born.

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