ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

9 Lessons in Creative Problem Solving From South Park

Posted by Plish on March 31, 2009

Me in South Park (Courtesy of http://www.sp-studio.de/)

Me in South Park (Courtesy of http://www.sp-studio.de/)

The book Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design  describes the attributes of a sketch as:

  1. Quick
  2. Timely
  3. Inexpensive
  4. Disposable
  5. Plentiful
  6. Clear Style – It suggests it’s a sketch
  7. Distinct – Not tight and precise, open and free
  8. Only Includes Detail Needed to Convey Information
  9. Appropriate Degree of Refinement
  10. Suggest and Explore Direction – Initiate conversations
  11. Ambiguity

It dawned on me the other day that in some way, shape or form, the animated show, South Park  , meets all the above criteria for being a “sketch”. 

Why is this important? 

Because as a sketch, it is saying, “Here’s a problem and a possible solution; what do you think? Don’t like that answer? What about this one?”

Because these sketches are actually animated stories, they also contain a “formula” for bringing about resolution of problems contained therein.

So, what I’ve done is look at the South Park ‘sketch’ formula and find 9 lessons we can apply to our own quests to creatively solve problems, generate ideas, and innovate.

  1. Frame your problems/solutions in the context of a sketch.  Remember, a sketch can take multiple forms.
  2. Don’t pre-judge what you put into the sketch.  Let it be fodder for discussion.
  3. Always ask “What if?”  What if we killed a character every episode and brought him back (i.e. What if we made some aspect of our device reusable?)?  What if a mechanical larynx could be programmed with an Irish accent?  What if ground up cash was anti-viral? What if human excrement could talk?  Again, DON’T judge the ideas – play them through to their logical conclusion!
  4. Look at problems through childrens’ eyes and minds; children usually provide common sense answers.
  5. Don’t let political correctness be the automatic solution to a problem.
  6. Culturally diverse personalities/perspectives are a good thing.
  7. Ask questions. (See #4)
  8. Make the most of the resources you have on hand
  9. Always learn something from a process/problem/solution/situation.

What else could you add to this list?

How do you use sketches to solve problems?

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3 Responses to “9 Lessons in Creative Problem Solving From South Park”

  1. […] ZenStorming – Where Science Meets Muse… placed an interesting blog post on 9 Lessons in Creative Problem Solving From South ParkHere’s a brief overviewMe in South Park (Courtesy of http://www.sp-studio.de/)The book Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design  describes the attributes of a sketch as:QuickTimelyInexpensiveDisposablePlentifulClear Style – It suggests it’s a sketchDistinct – Not tight and precise, open and freeOnly Includes Detail Needed to Convey InformationAppropriate Degree of RefinementSuggest and Explore Direction – Initiate conversationsAmbiguityIt dawned on me the other day that in some way, sh […]

  2. […] 9 Lessons in Creative Problem Solving From South Park … […]

  3. got my thumbs up….

    Works a treat….

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