What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

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.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

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.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
With rendition switcher


Bob Kulhan: The challenge that many leaders face is that we're analytical.  We think too quickly about why something can't happen or how to correct a problem, as opposed to twisting it and framing the brain that this is an unexpected opportunity; what can I do with it?  Improvisation creates a set of learnings, a set of experiences that allows you to fine tune and hone all of the necessary skills needed to think on your feet and simply react and adapt. 

The cornerstone of improvisation around the world is a great two-word phrase called "yes, and.”  “Yes” means that you accept everything that's brought to you, regardless of who brought it to you, regardless of what it is, regardless of what you think it means based on who gave it to you.  You accept it at face value. The "and" means you take this idea and build directly upon it.  Now, build directly upon it might seem like it's always complementary, and that's not always true.  You can build upon something by taking it apart.  You can build upon something by looking at it from a different angle.

So the "yes" creates openness.  Just the definition of it: it's affirmation; it's positive; it's acceptance.  That creates a style of thinking inside people.  And then the "and" is your reaction to it.  The "and" is the bridge to your thoughts, the bridge to your movement, the bridge to how you respond to others, who are reacting to this event in real time as well.

Using "yes, and" as a tool, you can actually create environments that foster creativity and foster talent, leading, of course, to innovation.  If there is a difference between the two of those, creativity, more of the process, innovation, more of the product.  "Yes, and" endows people with fearlessness.  There is not a mistake.  There is not a wrong way to do something.  That's the editing process, and something that leaders have a challenge with is editing too quickly.  Again, we're analytical thinkers.  We're critical thinkers. 

We have to learn to take that critical hat off and create an environment in which it's okay for ideas to fail, it's okay for people to take chances.  Once that area is created and individuals are flourishing inside of it, you create a second area for editing.  It's the difference between divergent thinking and convergent thinking. You have to separate the two so that you can diverge your thoughts and come up with this great collection of ideas, and then once you have this great collection of ideas, you focus on the convergent thinking. You start separating the sand from the gold and the good ideas from the bad ideas, and you start editing those out.

In order to create this environment in which people can come up with these ideas and diverge their thinking, you have to cling to "yes, and" so that you're not editing too quickly. 

Directed / Produced by

Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd



Bob Kulhan: Improv 101. How...

Newsletter: Share: