Do Tanks

Er, well, metaphorically we should take the stairs instead of just thinking about it or taking the less challenging escalator. Um…

Sometimes I think I would like to work for a think tank. Sounds like my kind of thing, all that thinking. 

Imagine. Get into work, sit down and have a ruddy good think. Lovely. 

Something niggles me, though. The last couple of years have taught me the about the power of doing as much as thinking, as especially thinking while doing. 

So the other night, I decided that what would be better than working in a think tank would be being in a Do-Tank. Kind of like an innovation team without a company. Maybe it starts companies as it moves along, taking on edge challenges, riding new waves. But always creating things (technologies, services, models, products, ideas, whatever)…

M’learned colleague Jim says that of course companies like IDEO are Do Tanks. I guess they are, really: applying innovation and creative thinking to challenges that companies face and to those problems that just take their fancy. 

Of course, following the first law of ideas and the web (“Whatever you think of, someone’s probably doing something like it already”)…

There’s the cool-looking DoTank Studios, a digital design firm in London: 

There’s a public sector performance organisation in the Netherlands called Do Tank (although I seem to recall that “Do!” in Dutch is a word much like “‘Bye!” in English). 

And there’s a fair amount of “Think-Do Tank” discussions out there. And naturally, the brilliant Word Spy has the skinny on the phrase “Do Tank”: 

do tank n. A research institute that focuses on actions rather than ideas. Also: do-tank. 


Example Citation:
Like Elihu Root (1912), the first president of the Carnegie Endowment for Intertational Peace, [Jimmy] Carter heads a “non-governmental organization.” (But while Carnegie is a think tank, the Carter Center is more of ado tank.)
—Hedrik Hertzberg, “He’s no. 19,” The New Yorker, October 28, 2002



Earliest Citation:
Midwest Research now ranks as one of the top not-for-profit private research facilities in the country. There are larger research institutes, but few with the growth record of MRI. Revenue for this year is expected to exceed $46 million, twice what it was just three years ago.

A science journal recently labeled MRI “a small think tank in the Midwest.” Not so, says Harold M. Hubbard, MRI vice president for research. “We’re a ‘do-tank,’ not a ‘think tank.”‘
—Scott Kraft, “Washington Dateline,” The Associated Press, November 18, 1979

: : Stat fans may get a frisson of big-round-number-joy to know that this is post number 1,000 on Open… hurrah!

2 responses to “Do Tanks”

  1. […] Do Tanks | Open (minds, finds, conversations)… (tags: dotankstudios) […]

  2. Thanks for the nice mention of us. We are actually on the top floor of a building with no lift or escalator, so we really do take the stairs (gets the blood rushing, or something).

    The word spy definition is a nice one, might need to borrow that :-)

    All the best,


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