Osborn's checklist

A simple tool to support concept generation, Osborn's checklist is a comprehensive list of questions about ideas and problems which can be used either individually or in groups. Aims to encourage creativity and divergence in concept generation.

A series of simple questions, which can be used either individually or in groups, designed to support creative and divergent thinking when faced by a design problem. The questions need a point of focus, which could either be an existing solution or proposed concepts to a design problem. The questions should be taken one at a time, to explore new ways and approaches to the problem.


In a brainstorming session, it can be useful to write each statement on a card, and randomly select a card when discussing alternative solutions. Alternatively, paste the questions onto a board and place in the design team's environment.



Other uses?

New ways to use as is? Other uses if modified?


What else is like this? What other idea does this suggest? Does past offer parallel? What could I copy? Whom could I emulate?


New twist? Change meaning, colour, motion, odour, taste, form, shape? Other changes?


What to add? More time? Greater frequency? Stronger? Higher? Larger? Longer? Thicker? Heavier? Extra value? Plus ingredient? Duplicate? Multiply? Exaggerate?


What to subtract? Smaller? Condensed? Miniature? Lower? Shorter? Narrower? Lighter? Omit? Streamline? Split up? Understate? Less frequent?


Who else instead? What else instead? Other ingredient? Other material? Other process? Other power? Other place? Other approach? Other tone of voice? Other time?


Interchange components? Other pattern? Other layout? Other sequence? Transpose cause and effect? Change place? Change schedule? Earlier? Later?


Transpose positive and negative? How about opposites? Turn it backward, upside down, inside out? Reverse roles? Change shoes? Turn tables? Turn other cheek?


How about a blend, an alloy, an assortment, an ensemble? Combine units?


This list is also sometimes referred to as SCAMPER - Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify/Magnify/Minify, Put to other uses, Eliminate, Reverse/Rearrange.



Best used to support group creativity and discussion, although can be referred to individually.



Osborn, Alex F. (1957) Applied imagination : principles and procedures of creative problem-solving. New York : Scribner


For more information, please contact:

James Moultrie

E: jm329@cam.ac.uk

T:  +44 1223 764830

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