Checklist for concept generation

From WikID

What is a checklist for concept generation?

Checklists for concept generation are simple tools that support concept generation. Checklists are a series of simple questions, which can be used either individually or in groups (see also checklist for generating requirements). The check­list aims to encourage a systematic development of concepts. Also, the use of checklists encourages creativity and divergence in concept generation.

The questions on a checklist 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. The checklists can also be used in a brainstorm session, where it can be useful to write each statement on a card, and randomly select a card when discussing alternative solutions.

Two widely used checklists for concept development are the SCAMPER technique and Osborn’s checklist. The SCAMPER tech­nique is created by Bob Eberle and written about by Michael Michalko in his book, Thinkertoys. SCAMPER is the acronym of: Sub­stitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to other uses, Eliminate and Rearrange. The SCAMPER technique is derived from Osborn’s Checklist, which consists of: put to other uses?, adapt?, modify?, magnify?, minify?, substitute?, rearrange?, and reverse?.

When can you use a checklist for concept generation?

The checklist for concept generation is best applied when developing an idea into a concept. As stated earlier, the technique needs a point of focus. This point of focus should be a product idea, already with material features, shape and dimensions.

How to use a checklist for concept generation?

Starting points

The starting point of checklists for concept generation is a well-defined product idea, or existing product.

Expected outcome

The expected outcome is a product concept which is developed further than just its initial idea state.

Possible procedure

  1. Define a product idea into detail, including material features such as shape, dimensions etc.
  2. Search for and select a checklist for concept development. Use more than one checklist.
  3. Systematically work through the checklist by answering the questions on the checklist. Note: this is a trial and error process; apply the question to the product idea and verify whether the product idea is improved. If not, try something else.
  4. Iteratively, improve you idea by answering the questions on the checklist over and over again.
  5. Present your developed idea in a explanatory sketch.

Tips and concerns

  • Checklists can be used to support group creativity and discussion, and can be referred to individually.
  • Use more than one checklist; try to find more checklists yourself.

References and further reading

  • A. Osborn (1957) Applied imagination: principles and procedures of creative problem-solving, Scribner, New York.
  • M. Michalko (1991) Thinkertoys: a Handbook of Business Creativity, Ten Speed Press, Berkely.
  • N. Roozenburg and E. Eekels (1995) Product Design: Fundamentals and Methods, Lemma, Utrecht.


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