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


Human beings are very deeply motivated by four primary drives.  The drive to acquire, which is insatiable and therefore people always want more.  But equally, the drive to bond, people like to form relationships with each other.

Human beings also have a deep desire to create meaning and to understand the world around them.  This is what leads both to things like science and religion, which are ways of organizing and thinking about the world.  And finally, human beings have a deep motivation to defend.  They defend anything that they value.

So, one of the organizations that I think does a great job of balancing all four of these drives, is Harvard Business School.   This is an organization in which you can do remarkably well if you’re very, very successful.  We have faculty members who are entrepreneurial in the best sense of the word and there is no limit to what they can accomplish in terms of their drive to achieve at Harvard Business School.  

At the same time, we have always been a remarkably collegial place.  This is a culture that makes you feel like you’re a part of a community, where you can truly belong.  We have many institutions that support that, all the way from teaching groups that early on create a culture in which faculty members learn that  they can share with each other the ways in which they teach, the ideas of how to teach best are not their own and that they share with each other they will in fact become better teachers themselves.  So we create a great culture in which people learn how to bond with the organization and to team with each other.  

We’re certainly a place that has always has a distinctive mission and a purpose.  We have a mission statement about educating leaders who make a difference in the world.  And we are an organization that has always been very thoughtful about allowing people to feel that if they ever feel aggrieved, that they will be heard, that they will be listened to, that there’s enough psychological safety that people can in fact express any grievance that they have so that their drive to defend is well taken care of as well. 


More from the Big Idea for Thursday, July 28 2011


Harnessing the Four Drives

Newsletter: Share: