The Research Committee (SOT RC)

We have always asked SOT members for their feedback.

For example click here and also click here. Although this feedback is mostly subjective it remains a valid indication of the many ways that SOT members have applied their training to produce benefits and positive results in their life and work.

However, this kind of subjective evidence cannot replace scientifically validated research and there is an opportunity for SOT to see that such research is properly conducted.

Starting in 2011-2012, we are planning to fund a range of focused and scientific research projects on different aspects of SOT metacognition training to explore the question: Does it work?

School of Thinking Research Committee

SOT is currently planning to appoint a Research Committee (SOT RC) of ten eminent people, the majority of whom will have appropriate experience in reviewing research. The Research Committee will ensure that the research undertaken is scientific in nature.

Those persons appointed to the SOT RC will have a proven ability to direct a research program of high quality and scientific merit, as evidenced by their academic qualifications and professional appointments.

The Role of SOT RC

SOT RC will determine the research activities which are to be funded from the SOT Research Fund and award research grants on the basis of scientific quality as judged by peer-review. SOT RC will foster publication and dissemination of research results within and beyond the School of Thinking.

DOES IT WORK? How do we know if SOT training really works?

Dr Hewitt-Gleeson, 31 January, 2011:

30 years ago I had an idea for a network of family thinkers.

That idea was to start the CoRT Family Network to train 300,000 ‘teachers of thinking’ around the world.

I shared this idea with Edward de Bono who wrote to me saying he thought the idea was “brilliant” and he suggested we call this project the Edward de Bono School of Thinking. The idea was to train families in the CoRT Thinking skills. We kicked it off in New York on 17 November, 1979.

This strategy of training families to be ‘teachers of thinking’ became so successful that it has led to the largest metacognition movement in the world for the teaching of thinking skills.

Value of Innovation

In business in the 80s, CEOs like Bill Gates of Microsoft and Jack Welch of GE were among the first to see the commercial value of enterprise innovation which could come from harnessing the brainpower of all of the knowledge-workers across the enterprise.

Since then, other companies like Apple, Pixar and Google have followed suit and invested in the development of employee brainpower to deliver extra value to their shareholders. Today, INNOVATION is no longer a fringe topic of conversation but is considered to be a top priority in Fortune 500 boardrooms as directors chart the future of their enterprise.

Over the years, this Family Thinkers Project has sourced, tested, created, developed and published an evolving range of metacognitive technologies including CoRT thinking skills, School of Thinking caps, universal brain software (cvs2bvs), greyscale thinking and the XIO memeplex.

These technologies are currently being used every day by many millions of individual thinkers in schools, colleges, NGOs, government bodies and small, medium and very large corporations worldwide.

Online Daily Training

In 1995 I decided to base the School of Thinking (SOT) on the internet. This was the first school on the internet. SOT online began to send out pro bono thinking lessons by email to students in over 50 countries worldwide and it still does this every day. SOT lessons have reached over 100 million people worldwide since it all began in 1979.

But here’s the question: Does it work? After 30 years, what are the consequences of my Family Thinkers Network idea? Now that there ARE hundreds of thousands of ‘teachers of thinking’ around the world who are teaching thinking every day to millions of children perhaps we should ask: what are the consequences of this? I have given a lot of thought to this question over the years and I still don’t feel satisfied that we have sufficiently explored the answer.



We do ask for and get feedback every day from our students online. Overwhelmingly the feedback is positive–better health, increased productivity, better relationships, business growth etc etc. We rarely get any negative feedback from individual students at all.

In business, companies like GE say that their business has flourished from using SOT brain software for their workers. In the early 80s I initiated a program for Jack Welch who was CEO of GE called GE XIO: How to multiply GE by ten. GE subsequently did multiply its business by ten from $35 billion to over $300 billion in the 80s and 90s.

So, from my personal experience, I’ve no doubt that SOT training can be widely distributed, creatively powerful and has changed lives. Perhaps this is the reason why we should do more scientific research to test the validity of this view.

IS IT TRUE?: How to sort truths from lies.

In our exploding world of cybermedia with photoshop, digital manipulation and peer2peer messaging at the speed of light, I believe that the global epidemic spread of lies may be one of the most serious challenges facing long-term human survival.

I believe this challenge needs to be taken very seriously and could be considered to be of a threat level similar to that of lethal epidemics like Avian or Bird Flu. Many scientists share this view.

As an antidote, SOT has put forward a new thinking methodology to help meet this challenge. To follow on from the previous SOT thinking tools, thinking hats and brain software, this new tool is called: greyscale thinking: how to sort a truth from a lie.

— Click here for the full article …

Beware of the imaginary mind!

Imagination is a wondrous and powerful faculty of the human brain and is therefore something of which to be both wary and aware.

Sometimes imagination can be passed off as ‘truth’ when it isn’t true at all. When this happens it can cause very poor and even highly irrational decision-making on a repetitive, habitual and therefore daily basis. The consequences, like quicksand, can become inescapable.

This can be very dangerous and is often lethal. Millions of humans are losing their lives as a direct result of this kind of neurological confusion.

The more skilled the thinker the less likely one is to be confused about which ‘truth’ is really true and which one is simply imaginary.


2,414 Responses to Lesson One

You can check out School of Thinking Lesson One by clicking here. As of today there are 2,414 Responses to “#01 DFQ”. Here is that response by Aatif who says:

This statement to me means that thinking is a skill and like any other skill such as carpentry or programming, a person can become a skilled thinker by practicing and constantly learning, adapting, challenging and of course thinking. Come to think (pun intended) of it, while I am writing this response I am thinking about what to write so in essence I am practicing thinking. Thinking and decision making are probably two skills that are interrelated plus these are two activities that we as humans are constantly involved in, so to make better decisions you need to become a better thinker and I guess in order to become a better thinker you have to become a better listener, observer, reader and above all have an open mind. I think I will stop now.

NEW SOT EXPERIENCE! Metacognition Month

Wisdom, where and when it can be found, is a much more heightened state of awareness.

Metacognition is the highest state of awareness. It’s actually thinking about thinking. Or being aware that one is aware. Metacognition is being aware of one’s thinking and directing one’s thinking in a deliberate and strategic way.

Starting on May Day, the first of May 2011, School of Thinking began celebrating Metacognition Month.

— Click here to participate and find out more …

The Grey Borsalino

When I was in Rome, this time last year, I wanted to acquire a grey Borsalino.

That morning I’d got up early for a walk and climbed the Spanish Steps to gaze back at the stunning laser fanfare of sunrise over the cupolas of the Eternal City.

Then, early breakfast in the Palm Court at the Hassler has been a long-standing tradition for me on my Roman holidays so I chose my strategic table, laid out my International Tribune and sipped my tea.

An hour later, fully restored, I stepped out and headed towards Piazza del Populo now on my important mission for the morning. I was going to get my hat.
I found my way to the elegant boutique. After introductions I carefully examined the shelves of exquisite chapeaux and tried on 4 or 5 of the famous felt fedoras.

O me miserum! The one I really wanted was not my size and the one that fit me was not the one I desired.

Disappointed. I missed out on that trip but I’ll be back in June and this time I’m determined not to leave Rome without my grey felt Borsalino.



The Grey Thinking Hat is for Wisdom.

The experience of surviving for a complete generation through childhood, adolescence and adulthood endows knowledge and perspective that a young brain simply cannot match.

To achieve 50 years of survival, through two or more generations, allows the brain to build a database of experience which offers a perspective of history, an understanding of long term consequences, a faculty for prediction and a wisdom that cannot be acquired in any other way. It takes half a century.

Grey Hat Thinking is the ability to see consequences, immediate, short term and long term. It is the ability to look back over history and to see forward into the future. To understand cycles, passages of time, the passing of fashions, eras, eons and the many possible futures including extinction, the possibility of no future at all.

My mentor, Professor George Gallup, was acknowledged worldwide as one of the greatest leaders of change. George was also a wonderful American gentleman and a very nice man. He was 84 when he died at his place in Switzerland in 1984. He encouraged me personally and generously supported SOT by saying that he thought our work in teaching people to think, “may be the most important thing going on in the world”.

He was the inventor of the Gallup Poll at Princeton and the designer of market research. He was the first to map what today we might call ‘the Human Meme Pool’. George Gallup’s great personal wisdom was supported by his long experience of measuring, in scientific detail, the opinions of more people around the world than anyone else in history. In The Miracle Ahead he wrote that:

Change cannot be brought about easily by leaders, except in those situations in which the changes advocated do not disturb present relationships. In fact, it is the leaders who typically become the most bitter and the most effective foes of change. The public, therefore, must take the initiative and assume responsibility for progress in the affairs of man. The public must force change upon its leaders (who) command more respect today than perhaps they deserve… The leader is expert in his small world as it presently exists, not expert in the world as it might be. Although he plays an important role in modern society, it is not realistic to expect him to advocate change. This is the surest way for him to lose his status … The hope of the future rests with the citizen. To be effective, he must be well informed, and he must discover ways of making better use of his own great capacities and those of his fellow man. He cannot expect his leaders to give him much help in his upward march.

Grey Hat Thinking also means the wisdom to see other points of view. It includes the sagacity of patience to see beyond one’s own immediate viewpoint and the wisdom to see the viewpoints of others involved in situations: your partner’s viewpoint, your children’s, your children’s children, your neighbour’s, your customer’s, your enemy’s.

The wisdom of Grey Hat Thinking comes from long term survival.

Elizabeth II is the Queen of Australia. She says: “One of the features of growing old is a heightened awareness of change. To remember what happened 50 years ago means that it is possible to appreciate what has changed in the meantime. It also makes you aware of what has remained constant. In my experience, the positive value of a happy family is one of the factors of human existence that hasn’t changed. The immediate family of grandparents, parents and children together with their extended family is still the core of a thriving community. When Prince Philip and I celebrated our Diamond Wedding Anniversary last month we were much aware of the affection and support of our own family as they gathered around us for the occasion.”

Grey (Gray: US) Hat Thinking is the wisdom that emerges from the hard won, labour-intensive experience gained from having to solve life’s wide range of random and unexpected problems and having survived through multi-changing environments over several generations and for an extended period of time.

The long-term wisdom of Grey Hat Thinking may also be useful in raising one’s conciousness of Black Swans.

In The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb shares his personal insight:

The other day, looking at my gray beard that makes me look ten years older than my true age, and the pleasure I derived from exhibiting it, I realized the following. Effectively, the respect for the elder in many societies might be compensation for our short-term memory. Senate come from senatus, aging in Latin; sheikh in Arabic means both member of the ruling elite and “elder”.

These people had to be repositories of more complicated inductive learning that included information about rare events —in a narrow evolutionary sense they can be deemed be useless since they are past their procreative age, so they have to offer some antidote to the turkey problem and prevent the less experienced members of the tribe from being suckers. In fact the elders can scare us with a story — which is why we become overexcited when we think of a specific Black Swan.

I was excited to find out that this also held in the animal domain: a paper in Science shows that elephant matriarch fill the role of super-advisors on rare events.

In the US a person who is often admired for both her philanthropy and her own brand of wisdom is Oprah Gail Winfrey. She has claimed, “Books were my pass to personal freedom. I learned to read at age three, and soon discovered there was a whole world to conquer that went beyond our farm in Mississippi”.

Oprah’s Angel Network has raised more than $51,000,000 for the underprivileged around the world. Behind the scenes Winfrey personally donates more of her own money to charity than any other show-business celebrity in America. In 2005 she became the first black person listed by Business Week as one of America’s top 50 most generous philanthropists, having given an estimated $303 million.

Winfrey has also invested $40 million establishing the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls near Johannesburg, South Africa. The school opened in January 2007. Nelson Mandela praised Winfrey for overcoming her own disadvantaged youth to become a benefactor for others and for investing in the future of South Africa.

A Guardian article entitled The Wisdom of Oprah says: The beauty of Oprah’s story is that it is simple, inexpensive things – being taught to read by her grandmother and, later, her father’s discipline and his emphasis on her education – which gave her the tools she needed to become much more than just another statistic. That in itself is inspiring.

One of the well-known paradoxes of wisdom is expressed by Mark Twain’s admission: “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years”.

Even though we may not be able to teach children to do Grey Hat Thinking we can still raise their consciousness and teach them to understand what it is–to recognise it–to appreciate it, to consult it, and to seek it our wherever it can be found.

Wisdom, wrote Albert Einstein, “is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it … The attempt to combine wisdom and power has only rarely been successful and then only for a short while … How I wish that somewhere there existed an island for those who are wise and of goodwill! In such a place even I would be an ardent patriot.

— See also: The Original SOT Thinking Caps Concept …

NOTE: If you have any suggestions or comments on this topic, please post your ideas below.


The Grey Thinking CAP is the Metacognition Cap.

At a leadership convention in Melbourne I was asked to add one more cap (or hat) to the original 6 thinking caps developed by SOT in 1983.

I added  the 7th Cap  for Metacognition which is the Grey Thinking Cap/Hat. The Metacognition Cap is the Wisdom Cap.

Of all the Thinking Hats–White, Black, Yellow, Red, Green, Bluethe Grey Hat (or Cap) is also the Senior Hat.

(Master Vincent van Gogh’s Self Portrait with Grey Hat, Paris, 1887)



wisdom n. experience and knowledge together
with the power of applying them critically or practically
Oxford English Dictionary



is all about the escape

from judgmental thinking to wisdom.


Survival is clever and requires intelligence. Long term survival endows wisdom and this is a very clever thing, indeed

From the hard-won accomplishment of longevity emerges broad experience and special knowledge. It cannot be taught. It also offers a deep appreciation of the role that sheer random luck plays in long term survival.

I am dedicating this hat to my father who was one of the wisest people I have ever known. He had a great deal of life experience. In WWII he had served and survived in two theatres of war in the Middle East and in New Guinea.

Before the war, in Melbourne, he received a classical education. He was widely read, had a great deal of knowledge and common sense and was known for his generosity, his cheerful demeanour and lively sense of humour. He was also very lucky. He survived bowel cancer, completely, and other narrow escapes.

Dad used to always say, “Nobody’s perfect”. How wise he was!


Martin Joseph Hewitt-Gleeson   –   15.11.1919 — 09.08.2003



The Grey Thinking Hat is for Wisdom.

The Grey Thinking Hat is for Metacognition.