In the book Thinkertoys, author Michael Michalko says: "To get original ideas, you need to be able to look at the same information everyone else does and organize it into a new and different pattern. This is active thinking."
What can a project manager do when he or she needs to generate new problem-solving--or any really--ideas? Try SCAMPER, which Mr. Michalko calls "a checklist of idea-spurring questions":
â€¢ Substitute some part, activity, or operation.
â€¢ Combine the product/process/service with something else.
â€¢ Adapt something to it.
â€¢ Modify or Magnify it.
â€¢ Put in to some other use.
â€¢ Eliminate something.
â€¢ Reverse or Rearrange it.
Consider a meeting I had with customers who posed the challenge: "How can we improve the existing document release process?" First, we went through and identified all of the sub-processes (request change, review request, create/modify document, verify/validate document, upload document to asset library and publish document.)
Using the "create/modify document" sub-process as an example, let's use SCAMPER to ask the following:
â€¢ What activities can we substitute within the existing sub-process?
â€¢ How can we combine "create/modify document" with some other sub-process to improve efficiency and accuracy?
â€¢ What can we adapt or reuse from another "create/modify document" sub-process used by other business units?
â€¢ How can we modify the way "create/modify document" sub-process is conducted?
â€¢ What can we magnify or add to the "create/modify document" sub-process?
â€¢ How can we put "create/modify document" process to other uses?
â€¢ What can we eliminate from the way we "create/modify document?"
â€¢ What is the reverse of "create/modify document" sub-process?
With more ideas generated, a project manager has more options to explore. That is why I am always looking for tools. How do you generate your ideas?