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Ideate with Lotus and SCAMPER

A lotus is a great tool to extend your ideas
A lotus filled in with post it notes and dot voting

The Lotus

The lotus is a creativity technique used for idea generation. It does this through the use of a visual representation of ideas that is similar to a mind map. The underlying problem is placed in the centre of a grid with possible solutions or themes placed around it. These sub themes then become the centre of an outer blossom and are further explored.

Why use this method:

This method is a fast tool to help generate lots of ideas and explore each of those ideas by building upon them to new ideas. It provides an opportunity to explore a high range of ideas from low risk to high risk.

How to use this method:

  1. Draw up a lotus blossom template of 9 x 9 empty boxes
  2. Write the design problem in the centre box of the problem
  3. Write eight related themes/possible solutions/concepts around the central problem statement (A-H)
  4. Each idea then becomes the central idea of a new theme blossom (e.g. A moves to the top left hand corner)
  5. Follow step 3 by generating new ideas around the sub themes (A1-A8)

A Lotus blossom in table form


Paper, pens, large sheet of paper, markers, post it notes

Tips from using in the field:

  • This is a great tool to use in co-design with your industry partner or people who are impacted by the problem
  • Every idea has value, if you are unsure just write it down, it could become inspiration for the next idea
  • You don’t have to fill every box as not every sub-theme will require as many different ideas
  • If you need more boxes for ideas around a theme, just add more – post it’s can help with this

SCAMPER is a great acronym to help expand on a lotus or to use by itself.

  • S – Substitute
  • C – Combine
  • A – Adapt
  • M – Modify
  • P – Put to another use
  • E – Eliminate
  • R – Reverse or Rearrange

E.g. for a coffee cup we could: Substitute the paper cup for a seed husk cup, we could combine a cookie holder into the side of the cup, we could adapt the coffee cup into a different shape, we could modify the colours to make them more vibrant, we could use the coffee cup as compost and plant it. We could eliminate the lid and make the whole cup as one.

Think of a solution you recently came up with. Apply SCAMPER to it. What sort of new ideas can you come up with?

Post suitable ones in the comments below.

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The Design Thinking Toolbox

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