What's the Big Idea?

December 11, 2012

What if you arrived at a holiday party with over 50 of the smartest and most accomplished people in business milling around, and each one tipped you off to the one concept they think will matter most in the New Year? This week we launch The Biggest Ideas of 2013, a collection of posts from the world’s top thought leaders that’s turning LinkedIn into a virtual version of that holiday party.

In October, select thought leaders were given the ability to post long-form pieces on LinkedIn; chosen for their experience and smart perspectives. But after we launched the program and posts settled into a steady rhythm, we realized we were amassing something really powerful: An online guide to some of the sharpest ideas in business.

We decided to harness that wisdom by polling the thought leaders, and the results were impressive. Industry heavyweights in finance, medicine, education, nonprofit, media and more replied enthusiastically to this challenge: What one issue, innovation or event will change the world in 2013? What’s the “big idea” you’ll be betting on?

For some, big ideas were about personal growth, like author Gretchen Rubin, with a great story about how she focuses her New Year’s resolutions on one-word themes like “Bigger.” Or Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, who writes that stress is a solvable problem, but only if we get serious about eradicating it.

Others took bold stances on policy. BP Capital Chairman and CEO T. Boone Pickens thinks that in 2013, control of the energy debate in the U.S. will shift from the federal government to individual states. Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson predicts the 40-year war on drugs will end. He explains:

"I’d like the business community to help figure out what can be done for countries to take a hard look at the failures of the drug war, and adopt humane solutions that focus on education and health care rather than criminalization and incarceration."

Still others pointed to ways that seemingly small things could make a major difference: Restaurant consultant Clark Wolf says that a movement toward raising chickens humanely will change the way we think about food. “Food is the largest industry in the world,” he writes, “and yet any little thing that happens, even in a tiny locale, can have a huge impact across the globe.” And entrepreneur Inge Geerdens explains why new technologies like 3D printing aren’t just clever innovations but an end to the digital world as we know it.

These ideas, and dozens more assembled here, will influence the professional conversation in 2013. And they’re just the beginning: We hope this will be the first of many such online cocktail parties. Over the next year, we’ll ask thought leaders to use LinkedIn to weigh in on a host of other timely and relevant topics, so stay tuned -- and join the party.

Let us know in the comments here and in each post, What's your big idea?