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


Ellen Galinsky: One of the things that I’ve thought a lot about is, the either/or black-and-white world we live in. There’s the assumption that something is good or something is bad, and there’s the assumption that it’s up to the employee to figure that out. We have that discussion going on with Sheryl Sandberg’s new book Lean In. You know, how much is -- of women’s problems are women’s problems because they’re not leaning in, they’re not taking responsibility for their careers, and how much of the responsibility is up to the employer to create the environment that women need or men need to succeed at work?   

I think it’s, in a sense, an iron triangle, and I think of it as an iron triangle because it really all goes together. You have whatever the demands of work, and with technology those demands have gone way up. You’ve got an individual who has to take responsibility for taking action to do something about the issues that they’re facing. And then you can’t do it without the support of the people who are in your life. If you’re talking about work, it’s your boss, it’s your coworker and it’s the culture of the organization.  

We go from this either or world -- well, it’s up to us, it’s up to our organization -- and if we could just understand that this triangle is really an iron triangle, that you can’t separate the three parts of it if people are going to thrive. And if they are together, that is, if you have demands that you can manage, if you have, if you take action to solve the problems that you have or the issues that you face, and if you have the support of people around you, you tend to thrive. And you’re more engaged at work, you’re more likely to want to stay at work. All those good things happen. But our debates go on this pendulum, and for as long as I’ve been doing this kind of research, you know, I’m always looking at one side of the pendulum and saying, “No, no, no, no, wait, there’s this other side” or looking at the other side and saying, “No, no, no, wait, it’s not just up to the individual.” 

I think the best solutions, as I’ve seen them in companies, come at the team level, that is, if it’s just a one off deal to, for example, to create a more flexible workplace, then one person get something and somebody else doesn’t. The person who’s the good negotiator, the favorite of the boss, may get something that other people don’t get. Or one person’s responsibilities may affect other people. I have a kid so I’m running off, or I have an elderly parent so I’m running off, or I’m practicing for a sport so I’m running up, and it affects other people. 

So it really - I think these solutions have to come at the team level where you create a culture of support where people aren’t assumed, where it’s legitimate to think that people have a personal and family life. And, in fact, if their personal and family life is good, they tend to be happier at work, more engaged, all those things. Again, not this either or notion. 

But if you can figure out how to make work more efficient so that it works for the employee and the employer, those have to go together. Flexibility, in my view, has to work for the employee and the employer. And if you can figure those out at the team level, then you’ve got win-win solutions and we see productivity going up. 

Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

More from the Big Idea for Thursday, June 27 2013

Radical Transparency

Knowing is half the battle. So argues Marianne DelPo Kulow in today's lesson, in which the Bentley law professor argues that women’s lagging negotiation skills are not to blame for the wage gap in... Read More…


How to Find Success at Work...

Newsletter: Share: