Irreverence And The Art Of Throwing Monkey Poo

Let’s face it. No matter how well you prepare to lead a group through an ideation process, sometimes they just run out of steam. Maybe the problem is too complex or too undefined. Maybe people are tired or uninterested.

If you find yourself leading or participating in a meeting that is fluttering and deflating faster than a dollar store whoopee cushion, I say it’s time to throw a little monkey poo at the group. Stick with me on this one, we first have to make a stop at the zoo…

As responsible, involved parents, my wife and I try to expose our chidren to as many education-disguised-as-entertainment experiences as possible – the zoo being one. For the most part, I hate the zoo. Everyone in our family assumes a different role at the zoo. My wife’s role is to ensure our children read EVERY SINGLE animal descriptor and spend the requisite amount of time appreciating the animals in their unnatural habitats. The kids’ role is to behave just long enough to get $10 worth of crushed ice and syrup. My role is to spot shortcuts that bypass as many continents as possible (and behave just long enough to also get $10 worth of crushed ice and syrup). The one exhibit I won’t skip however, is the monkey cage in the hope this earnest exercise in educational regimen that so many families like ours adhere to will be hijacked by misbehavin’ monkeys throwing poo. Suddenly everyone is watching and laughing. Mom forgets about the descriptors, the kids forget about the slushies, and dad no longer feels the need to rush out of the zoo.

Remembering the monkey poo is important, especially if you find you’re becoming too regimented in your ideation process. Even serious problems can sometimes benefit from having a little monkey poo thrown at them  in order to get the group looking at the problem differently.

childrens-hospital-tv-show-image-rob-corddry-02I remember slogging through an ideation session for a children’s hospital – pretty serious topic wouldn’t you agree? The energy was low and we weren’t getting far when one of my colleagues (a master poo flinger) pulled up an episode of Children’s Hospital on YouTube. The show is completely inappropriate and entirely irreverent toward hospitals. It spoofs all the typical television hospital drama stereotypes and stars Rob Corddry as a creepy pediatric surgeon who paints his face like a clown. The clown make-up is half-assed and hideous, his demeanor is entirely un-clownlike and even worse, his shirt is covered in blood. Sure, the over-the-top image of Corddry’s creepy clown surgeon would freak anyone out, but it got us thinking and talking about fear from a child’s perspective. We discussed how in a hospital – a place kids are likely visiting under already scary circumstances – fear becomes amplified. That in turn led us to talk about how much scarier things can be when incongruities between what you see and what you are told to see are obvious, which led us to talk about the importance of authenticity with children…etc., etc.

So keep this turd…I mean tool…in your back pocket and when you find the energy lagging and the crew becoming restless, get naughty, pose an inappropriate question, imagine the problem in the most irreverent way you can. In short, throw a little monkey poo and see what sticks!


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    About Kevin Tobosa

    Creative strategist and author of, a blog for everyone seeking tools and techniques for super-charging creative output.

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