Alex Osborn in his pioneering book Applied Imagination talks about "Questions as spurs to ideation", and outlines about 75 idea-spurring questions in his book.

The simplest set of questions comes from the six basic questions described in the Ask Questions section of the Creativity Web.

  1. Why is it necessary?
  2. Where should it be done?
  3. When should it be done?
  4. Who should do it?
  5. What should be done?
  6. How should it be done?

The What other uses? is a good question for by adding uses we can often add value. By piling up alternatives by way of other uses, a still better use is likely to come to light.

Osborn went on with the following questions:


Michael Michalko, in his book Thinkertoys describes the rearrangement of the above questions (by Bob Eberle) into the mnemonic SCAMPER (Substitute, Combine Adapt, Modify, Put to other uses, Eliminate, Reverse).

Start applying these questions to your problems and see what ideas come forth.

Last updated: 18th October 1996

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