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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.

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Patrick Byrne: Well I think of my role very much as being like a teacher, like a professor. I used to be an academic, and I’m not. It could be that I just interpret my current role that way, but you really can’t get very far just being the boss like from the Jetsons cartoon and, you know . . . Spacely Sprockets, shouting at people and giving them orders and stuff. It’s really a question of how quickly can you teach them and how quickly can they learn. And stepping back and giving people a lot of room to grow . . . In fact that’s, say, the difference between, in my view, middle management and upper management, is a middle manager is suffocating to his people. He may get a lot done, but he’s suffocating. And sometimes you have to accept a tradeoff that you’re going to be less suffocating and things might not be done as well or as quickly; but more people will learn. And the idea is to build a learning organization. I think of it almost as being like a college president, and we’re trying to build a learning organization. And there are times when I step in and . . . times when I step in to screw things up, and times when I step in and make things marginally better. I hope a few more of the latter than the former. But it’s really not about giving orders so much as creating the environment and the people who are gonna be able to carry on. Recorded on: 10/29/07

 

Patrick Byrne: What do you do?

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