There are few more overused words in public life than “think tank.”

What, exactly, does that mean anymore? On one hand, it can describe organizations so dense, serious and obtuse that they can’t even explain what it is they do — so they fall back on an easy, throwaway phrase that not only keeps prying eyes away, it just sounds so darn impressive.

On the other hand, organizations who are utterly weightless often use it because…well, it just sounds so darn impressive.

I think part of the problem is the word “tank.” It just sounds so darn…self-absorbed.

Anyway, for the sake of argument, let’s suggest an alternative. I propose “think pond.” Or, “think puddle,” depending on your ambitions and/or abilities.

“Pond,” and I guess I’m actually being three-quarters serious here, is a better metaphor. A pond, because it is a biological system, is more open, adaptable and hospitable to life (or, in this case, ideas and creativity).

A pond is less self-absorbed — more inclusive, if you will; it supports life (ideas) in itself and around its edges. It is also a source of water outflow (again, ideas) and an aggregation of water (ideas) from different sources.

A “think pond” is a good thing for any organization to be, from a family to a work team, from small businesses to large, multinational corporations.

Yes, yes indeed. I believe “think pond” is the next big thing. Everybody will be talking about it tomorrow, I’m sure.

AuthorJoseph Fusco