What does South Park have to teach us about strategy & planning? A lot, actually.
Matt Stone & Trey Parker, the creators of South Park, recently shared their #1 rule on writing a compelling story with a class at NYU. The short version: No scene should ever be disconnected. Every scene should logically flow from the scene beforehand. If the connection between scenes is not "THEREFORE" or "BUT", the scenes should be cut/changed. If the connection between scenes is "AND THEN", meaning a scene does not building upon or challenging the previous scene, then "you're f****d".
This makes obvious sense. A story is supposed to be interconnected. Every element of the story should strengthen the overarching narrative in some way. If you have disconnected elements, you're not building a single, compelling narrative.
The same goes for developing any strategy or plan. Whenever you're putting together a plan for a business, student organization, event, or project, you should make sure that every element of the plan build upon what has come before. If one section of the plan is connected to another with "AND THEN" rather than "THEREFORE" or "BUT", you have a problem.
Compare these two plans for an event:
Event A: We'll have Person X speak, and then we'll serve food, and then we'll let people talk.
Event B: We'll have Person Y speak to a group of 20 students to introduce Idea Z they may have never considered before, therefore we'll want to facilitate a conversation amongst the group about the idea so they can really internalize it, but they will be hungry after an hour so we'll need to supply food and refreshments to keep them happy.
Both events are utilizing the same basic elements, but Event B is almost certainly going to be more successful than the former because the organizers understand the connection between each element and can align activities to them.
More importantly, though, making sure there is a logical connection between the elements of the event helps eliminate unnecessary elements (which will likely cost you time and money otherwise). Here's another example of how this might happen:
Event C: We'll have Person H speak, and then we'll sell Books by Person G, and then we'll have a short talk by Person J, and then we'll invite people to go play foosball.
If the only things connecting each element of this event is "AND THEN", the event isn't going to make sense to participants and you'll be wasting a large amount of your energy and resources on activities that aren't designed to achieve your ultimate goal.
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