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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

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Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Today's Big Idea: Creative Cross-Pollination

The Big Idea for Thursday, July 12, 2012

One of the happy byproducts of globalization is that it creates all kinds of unlikely encounters. When cultures, ideas, and ways of doing business bump up against one another, creative solutions result. 

The emerging psychology and neuroscience of creativity support these claims, demonstrating, for example, that creative teams composed partly of "outsiders" and partly of former partners produce more successful creative work than teams that are too closely-knit or too far-flung. Outsiders seem to provide insight and creative tension that bring new ideas to light. 

Businesses and governments can benefit from conscious cross-pollination of ideas by remaining open, for example, to management concepts from entirely different sectors. This approach has enabled US agencies like the FDA and Homeland Security to solve some of their most vexing problems. 


  1. 1 Why Government Agencies Are So Infamously Lame and Why Some of Them are Getting Better
    Jason Gots Think Tank
  2. 2 Jonah Lehrer on The Creative Insight of The Outsider
    Jason Gots Humanizing Technology
  3. 3 A DJ Saved My Life: Lessons from the Director of the MIT Media Lab
    Megan Erickson Input/Output
  4. 4 How To Run The World
    Megan Erickson Think Tank

Today's Big Idea: Creative ...

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