The Simplest Idea in the World

First Law of Thinking

cvs ≠ bvs


“the current view of the situation (cvs)

can never be equal to

the better view of the situation (bvs)”



JACK WELCH, CEO of GE used cvs2bvs as an enterprise solution to accelerate the transformation of GE from a 100-year-old slow-thinking monolith to a fast-thinking modern business with a growth surge of 4000% in shareholder value.

He said,cvs2bvs is the simplest idea in the world!” Jack understood the power of cvs2bvs as a killer business management app. He wrote: “I wish I had a management team that really understood the cvs2bvs equation because it is the value-added role in the management process”.


How’s your brainpower?

Here’s a simple audit for you to rate your own brainpower. It was designed by Dr Eric Bienstock who is Vice-Principal of SOT in New York. Eric based this checklist on the SOT’s Learn-To-Think Coursebook and Instructors Manual (Michael Hewitt-Gleeson & Edward de Bono, Capra/New 1982).

How do you rate your own brainpower?

INSTRUCTIONS: Answer each of the following questions, scoring
either 3, 2, 1, or 0 points for each answer depending on your
objective estimate of how often you actually do what is stated.
Use your best guess of the following criteria for scoring:

3 – 90% OF THE TIME (nearly always)
2 – 70% OF THE TIME (mostly)
1 – 40% OF THE TIME (often)
0 – 10% OF THE TIME (hardly ever)


______ My judgements of ideas are based on the value of the idea rather
than on my emotions at the time.

_______ I judge ideas not just as “good” or “bad” but also as “interesting”
if they can lead on to better ideas.

_______ I consider all factors in a situation before choosing, deciding or planning.

_______ I consider all factors first, before picking out the ones that matter most.

_______ When I create a rule I see to it that it is clearly understood
and possible to obey.

_______ I try to see the purpose of rules I have to obey, even if I don’t like the rules.

_______ I look at consequences of my decisions or actions not only as they affect me
but also as they affect other people.

_______ I look at a wide range of possible consequences before deciding
which consequences to bother about.

_______ On the way to a final objective I establish a chain of smaller objectives
each one following on from the previous one.

_______ The objectives I set are near enough, real enough and possible
enough for me to really try to reach them.

_______ In planning, I know exactly what I want to achieve.

_______ I keep my plans as simple and direct as possible.

_______ I know exactly why I have chosen something as a priority.

_______ I try to get as many different ideas as possible first,
before starting to pick out the priorities.

_______ I will go on looking for alternatives until I find one I really like.

_______ While most people look for alternatives when they are not satisfied;
I look for them deliberately even when I am satisfied.

_______ I am able to tell myself the real reason behind a decision I make.

_______ Before making a decision, I consider the factors, look at the consequences,
get clear about the objectives, assess the priorities, and search for possible alternatives.

_______ I am able to see the other person’s point-of-view whether I agree with it or not.

_______ I am able to spell out the differences and similarities between different viewpoints.

_______ TOTAL SCORE.


Don’t panic, this is NOT a scientific test. It’s an audit or checklist to help you take stock of your thinking, that’s all!

Every day the output of your brain is decisions. You make hundreds of conscious decisions a day, sometimes more. The quality of these decisions has a direct impact on the quality of your personal life, your family, your business and your friends. If you can raise the quality of your decisions you can raise the quality of your life.

A trained thinker can direct his or her thinking and use it in a deliberate manner to produce an effect. To a trained and skilled thinker, thinking is a tool that can be used at will and the use of this tool is practical. This ability to use ‘thinking as a skill’ is the sort of thinking ability that is required to get things DONE.

– If your total score in this test was between 51 and 60 points, you may already possess superior brainpower.

– If you scored between 31 and 50 points, you may have better than average brainpower.

– If you scored between 0 and 30, you may possess no additional brainpower other than the natural thinking ability that most people have.

___________ Record your score and post any comments you have:

“Is our education system teaching us to learn but not to think?”

Recently I was posed this question by a media personality in Ireland and asked to write my comments for an upcoming Q+A TV show on this topic. Here’s my personal view …


The Western education system teaches students to be logically irrational rather than creatively rational. We teach our children to debate and defend their viewpoints rather than to escape and find even better ones. We teach our kids to lock themselves defensively inside the square rather than take an innovative leap outside the square. This makes them very slow thinkers.

Of course, in spite of all this, there are always a few exceptions and, depending on our mood, we either sing their creative praises or we single them out for judgement and correction. Interestingly, there are deep historical reasons for why we do this in our schools and in Western culture a lot can be traced back to Plato’s thoughts about the concept of TRUTH. There are basically two strategies when it comes to TRUTH: defence or search.

Pre-enlightenment thinking was about the DEFENCE of truth. “There is only one truth”, “I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong”, “God is on our side”, “Do what we say, or else”, “We know better than you because we have authority and rank”, “Our truth is the right truth”, “We have THE TRUTH so stop looking elsewhere. Just do as you’re told”. “Kill the infidel”. etc.

This authoritarian approach to ownership and defence of THE TRUTH got going in a big way after St Thomas Aquinas embedded a somewhat distorted view of Plato’s thinking into the Church at a time when the first universities were being set up. And, later when the European education system was being disseminated around the world by Roman-controlled missionaries, this Greco-Roman logic became the basic cognitive operating system for all of Western education.

In Australia, Greco-Roman Logic was imported here about 200 years ago along with rabbits and various other European delights. Even today, our children are still taught the ‘right/wrong’ system of sorting information. “This-is-right-and-that-is-wrong”. Logic is somewhat useful for sorting out the past but totally inadequate for designing much safer and more productive futures. We have come to call this kind of Greco-Roman Logic, ‘inside the square’ thinking.

So what do we see? We see grown-ups deeply trapped in irrational logic in business, in economics, in our legal system and in our parliament. In Canberra, for example, all the adults on one side of the House say “We-are-right-and-you-are-wrong”. Meanwhile, all the adults on the other side of the House say, “No. We-are-right-and-you-are-wrong”. Many of these members of the parliament are highly educated people; lawyers, journalists, business people and teachers. Watching it all on TV can be a most cringing experience. Electors in Australia are deeply dissatisfied with the performance in Canberra and are leaving the established political parties in droves.

Yet there is another strategy for TRUTH other than it’s mere logical defence. Since The Enlightenment we now have the innovative and scientific SEARCH for truth.

To encourage this strategy I use the formula: escape + search = think. If we can first escape from the righteousness of historical or traditional or authoritarian truths we can then search, experiment, and design much better truths. This is an ongoing and never-ending process.

Science offers us the search for much better truths than we currently have and we have developed very powerful tools to assist us in this search. Post-Enlightenment we now have The Scientific Method. We also have Darwinian Thinking. We have the use of evidence. We have the technology for observation and measurement. We have the forensic power of questions. “Why is this so?”, “What is the evidence?”, “What other possible explanation could apply?”, “How do you know?”, “What else have you tried”, “Give me ten other options”, “What are ten other possible explanations?, “Who is doing this differently?”, “How can we make this faster?”, “Why not do an experiment in order to see what happens?” etc. We often call this kind of thinking, ‘outside the square’.

It’s been my experience that although many highly educated Western people do know about The Enlightenment and might even be able to write a short essay on it, they are still very much pre-Enlightenment logical thinkers. Curiously, this is not the case in China. My experience there is that most highly educated Chinese people are post-Enlightenment thinkers and this is giving them a big advantage over their Western competitors. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds in the next decade.

In short, Western education has been about teaching kids to learn and logically DEFEND THE TRUTH (as revealed by their teachers) rather than giving them the thinking tools to discover much better truths through searching and measurement.

Evidence of this is in the type questions that teachers ask their students in school. There are closed questions that seek a correct answer. e.g. When was the Magna Carta signed? There are open or authentic questions where the teachers can provide an opportunity for the student to do some fresh thinking. e.g. What might have happened if the Magna Carta was never signed?

In one Harvard study of a large group of the top teachers in the US, the teachers were asked to estimate how many authentic questions that they had asked their students in the first semester of that year. The shocking results were: less than 1!!

On this big question about Western education my opinion is: We do not teach our kids to think for themselves. We teach them to learn what we tell them.

As a consequence of that, when we become adults in business, in law, in the media and in government we spend an extravagant amount of our time and energy defending what we believe to be true rather than discovering what we are capable of finding out.


Hardly any faculty is more important for the intellectual progress of man than ATTENTION. Animals clearly manifest this power, as when a cat watches by a hole and prepares to spring on its prey.

– Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (1871)


Let’s talk about attention.

But first a small experiment.

INSTRUCTION: As soon as you have finished reading this sentence, turn your head around about 180 and describe something you can see that is coloured green and does not belong to you.


OK. Here’s the point. Once you look in a direction it’s easy to see what is there. Here’s how it worked:

1. I gave you the cue above to turn your head and look for something specific
2. You turned your head and looked
3. You saw.

I don’t know where you are right now but most readers would have been able to carry this experiment out successfully, once you decided to look.

Here’s the special insight that I would like you to get now as a result of this little experiment. It will help you get better use out of the cvs2bvs brain software. It’s this:




Managing Your Attention
Many people feel that if there is an opportunity somewhere – a BVS – why, they’ll see it and go get it. They assume the very presence of a BVS will make itself known to them, that it will attract their attention. But no, it doesn’t work that way. You have to direct your own attention.

BVSs are there all the time, you’re tripping over them all day long, literally hundreds of them, but you’re not seeing them. The reason you’re missing them is obvious: It’s impossible to notice a BVS if your attention on defending your CVS.


Attention is the gateway to consciousness. Attention is the business of your mind. Attention is the principal service provided by the management section of your brain which enables you to focus in and have a mind– for you to think about things.

How you move your attention around is very interesting. There are three distinct aspects of attention-directing in your brain:

1. disengagement: escaping from your present fixation of attention
2. movement: movement of attention across the cognos, the vast universe of possible thoughts
3. engagement: attending to a new object out of a competition of an infinite multitude of possible candidates.


The cvs2bvs brain software is designed as a switch that helps you to control your attention and move it around, especially when your attention is habitually focused on your CVS and its defence. CVS2BVS can help you disengage and move your attention away from your CVS and to engage it elsewhere on a BVS.

Pay attention! This is a command with which we are all familiar. We all heard it many times as children and we still hear it (if more subtly expressed) every day in business. We know what it means to direct our attention even though it is something we do inside our head.


For example:

– In a noisy cocktail party, you can hone in on one particular conversation.
– In a business presentation, while presenting to the room at large and doing justice to her presentation as planned, an account executive can shift the attention around in her vision to catch the expression on her executive client’s face while apparently staring intently at her audio-visual.
– A marketing professional can show you how to deliberately shift your attention away from your product-driven strategy to a better client-driven one and then you can notice the way the information before you rearranges itself.
– A habit of attention may mean that the first thing a hairdresser notices about you is your hair while a dentist may notice your smile instead.
– On arriving at O’Hare International airport, I can pick out my driver from the dozens of others waiting even though my name is badly misspelt on his sign.
– An over-critical parent can pick out the one mistake in a child’s work and not see that the child has accomplished a great deal.
– A shared goal, like Sir Bob Geldorf’s Band-Aid, can cue a diverse group of individual and even competitive entertainers to give priority to a certain event where otherwise they would all be paying attention to something else.
– A team leader can pull back the attention of her team to a project-in-hand after a distraction had drawn attention away.
– A specific motion put before the board can focus the attention of the directors after a long and wandering discussion.
– Most languages have a word like Achtung! which focuses one’s attention.


We experience attention as a filter that the management part of our brain applies to the flood of competing information that comes in from our senses.

Attention Disorders
Individuals who have suffered brain-damage can lose their ability to control their attention. Attention disorders are manifested in different ways depending on the nature of the damage. It can take the form of an inability to escape from a particular fixation and so they remain stuck in a viewpoint regardless of the demands of their environment.

Or, damage to the right side of the brain can make it impossible for patients to pay attention to the side opposite the damaged hemisphere even to the point of failing to dress the left side of their bodies.

Sometimes, loss of attention-control means constant and debilitating distraction. This is because a person suffering from an attention disorder cannot prevent attention from being diverted by irrelevant stimuli.

Attention is not just another ‘function’ alongside other cognitive functions. The kind of attention we bring to bear on the world changes the very nature of the world we attend to. Attention changes what kind of a thing comes into being for us: in that way it changes the world. If you are my friend, the way in which I attend to you will be different from the way in which I would attend to you if you were my employer, my patient, the suspect in a crime I an investigating. my lover, my aunt, a body waiting to be dissected. In all these circumstances, except the last, you will also have a quite different experience not just of me, but of yourself: you would feel changed if I changed the type of my attention. And yet nothing objectively has changed.

– Iain McGilchrist, The Master and The Emissary

ENGLISH THINKINGâ„¢ – “a better brand of thinking!”

For the past 30 years I’ve been selling THINKING because I could not think of a better product to sell. Not just any thinking, of course, but much better thinking. Up until now I have focused on the USA and the Australian markets.

Traditionally, the thinking in these markets has been mostly Greco-Roman logic, which is very slow, and so there’s been a need and an interest in upgrading the 2500-year-old logic brain software (for thinking inside the square) to something much faster and much better for thinking outside the square!

I developed a powerful cognitive search algorithm called the Universal Brain Software–cvs2bvs–and have been selling that successfully in these markets since 1979. My book Software For The Brain has been a best-seller and published in Four Editions over the years.


In the last decade, like everyone in the USA and Australia, I’ve been watching the greatest market phenomenon of our time: CHINDIA. Although I’m not keen on the word it refers to the phenomenon of the exploding consumer markets in CHINA and INDIA that are driving the world economy. It is estimated by Boston Consulting Group that CHINDIA will be a TRILLION x10 by 2020. No-one in business can afford to ignore this.

China and India are very different in many ways. However, there will be nearly one billion middle-class consumers in China and India within the next ten years. By 2020 nearly 70% of Chinese households will be in the middle and upper-classes and nearly 60% in India. The number of billionaires in China has already grown from 1 to 115 in the past decade.

So, I began my own research and thinking about this opportunity a decade ago and in 2011 I decided I would do a Fifth Edition of my main work, Software For The Brain, but this time I would rewrite it and re-title it especially for the coming CHINDIA market: English Thinking: The Three Methods.

From English Speaking to English Thinking

English is already widely spoken in India and in China it is already the biggest foreign language. A vast nationwide educational effort is being forged in China to upgrade the level of English-speaking skills.

Me experience in the USA and Australia over the past three decades has led me to predict that Chinese and Indian middle-class consumers will not only need English speaking but they will also want English THINKING …

– Click here – for a much better brand in THINKING

and you can start reading

English Thinking: The Three Methods

on your Kindle in under a minute.

Kindle Price $9.95.


The SOT Graduate Certificate of English Thinking is based on the coursebook, English Thinking: The Three Methods by Michael Hewitt-Gleeson (2012).



The Three Methods

1. Greco-Roman Logic

for thinking inside the square,

2. The Scientific Method

for thinking outside the square,

3. Cognitive Science

for software for the brain and apps for intelligence.


What today we can call “English Thinking” has really evolved over the past 2500 years. Starting from the Greeks on to the Roman Empire and the Roman Church through The Enlightenment and Scientific Method and, since World War II, with the rise of cognitive machines and the world wired web of the internet.

In this course, the 38 lessons of ET 123 are designed to give SOT Members two things: knowledge and mastery of the three methods of English Thinking.




ET 123

English Thinkers need to know about the history and evolution of English Thinking as compared with, say, Chinese Thinking. In these lessons the two are compared for the benefit of insight and instruction.

Indeed, it would be an interesting field of research to go further and make a wider range of comparisons between the many other histories of thinking, for example, Spanish Thinking, Indian Thinking, Persian Thinking, Russian Thinking and even Artificial Thinking of the kind that computers use to conquer the Russian Grandmasters at Chess.

However, the scope of these ET 123 lessons will be to explore the three dominant methods of English Thinking:

  1. Greco-Roman Logic,
  2. The Scientific Method, and
  3. Cognitive Science.

1. Greco-Roman Logic (inside-the-square)

First, students learn how Greek logic came to be fused with Christian judgmental thinking and how the ideas of the Greek Thinkers–Plato, Socrates and Aristotle–were taken over by the Roman church through Thomas Aquinas. How these ideas became the cognitive operating system of European thinking and were then spread virally around the world by centrally organised Roman missionaries.

They spread first to countries in Britain, the continent and elsewhere and then later to America and Australia. More recently this ubiquitous education enterprise has spread to the African continent and into the ASEAN countries.

How, even today, children in these countries are still taught Right/Wrong, Yes/No, Black/White, Us/Them, Greco-Roman Logical thinking. And, Western parliaments, legal systems, the media and religious institutions still use pre-Enlightenment dialectic thinking to prosecute their cases and reach their decisions.

This Greco-Roman logic method is colloquially referred to as: inside the square thinking.


2. The Scientific Method (outside-the-square)

Second, the ET 123 lessons explore how the great escape from Greco-Roman logic led to the Enlightenment, Darwinian evolutionary thinking and the Scientific Method which became the combined cognitive engine behind the great march of Western science and technology which has cracked the human genetic code, put robots on Mars and wired the world for freedom of thought.

These methods are for thinking outside the square and rely on the value of hypothetical research, repetitive experimentation, measurement and observation and a strategic appreciation of the role of surprise and mistakes. This kind of thinking employs quite different but complementary methods and values to Christian Logic or judgmental thinking. These methods were introduced and spread throughout Western society through universities and scientific journals and the rapid growth of the commercial publishing industry.

Outside the square thinking is now on the move. When I was born in 1947 there was no television, penicillin, polio shots, frozen foods, Xerox, contact lenses, Frisbees and the pill. When I was born there were no credit cards, laser beams or ball-point pens. No-one had yet invented pantyhose, air conditioners, dishwashers, clothes dryers, and man had yet to walk on the moon.

I was born before gay-rights, computer-dating, dual careers, day-care centers, the China one-child policy, cognitive science and facebook. People thought fast food was what people ate during Lent. Australians had never heard of FM radios, tape decks, CDs, electric typewriters, yogurt, or nipple piercing. If you saw anything with Made in Japan on it, it was considered junk. Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, and café lattes were unheard of. And, atheists went to Hell (recently His Eminence George Cardinal Pell of Australia announced on national television that atheists can now go to Heaven which shows that even cardinals can now think outside the square).

When I was born my parents were the last generation to believe that a woman needed a man to make a baby. In 2012, there are more scientists, technologists and innovators alive than all those who ever lived in the history of the world.

It’s worth repeating that it does come as a sad surprise that after all this intellectual effort most big Western institutions like the education system, the legal system, the media, the church and the Western parliaments are still based on Greco-Roman logic. Because of this fact, most Western thinkers are still pre-Enlightenment thinkers! Even though they may be aware of the Enlightenment and can describe some of its accomplishments their daily default mode of thinking is still inside-the-square.


3. Cognitive Science (apps for intelligence)

Third, since WWII thinkers like Alan Turing empowered the invention of cognitive machines, machines that think, there has been an unprecedented tsunami of interest in computing, networking and the accelerating developments of cognitive science.

This has led to much faster and more powerful models of thinking and innovation and the more recent developments of software for the brain in countries like America and Australia.

These apps and algorithms are being developed for both human and artificial intelligences. They have now spread rapidly through the big global corporations like IBM, Apple and GE via their enterprise training departments.

These methods have infected the world wide web and in the last few decades have become a permanent part of Western education systems from primary schools to tertiary institutions.

Graduate Certificate Training

ET 123 is the graduate course of the School of Thinking. It follows the basic undergraduate training in Metacognition.

These more advanced 38 lessons of English Thinking simply and clearly show and tell Members how to understand these three dominant methods and how to apply them. They also contrast them with the long-esteemed methods of Confucian Thinking so as to make comparisons and to better understand the differences.


Knowledge without skills is pointless when it comes to English Thinking. So, for 10 weeks Members are given daily opportunities through PRR (practise, repetition, rehearsal) over the course of these 38 lessons to master these ET 123 skills and transfer them into their own personal and daily life.

The unique goal of this program is to ensure that Members become SKILLED in the daily use of English Thinking.

Free or Fee

There are two SOT training options:

  1. training for free, or
  2. graduating for a fee.

Some members do some of the lessons for free until they have had enough. Many others complete all the 38 lessons in order to graduate with the SOT certificate. The graduation course with the personalised certificate costs US$38.00.

When you complete all lessons to #38 in this series you may graduate with the Certificate of English Thinking which will be personalised and sent to you from the Office of the Principal in Melbourne, Australia.


What is the most important insight you will think about from this lesson?

Post your comment below …