Michelle Loewenstein
3 minute read
19 Dec 2013
6:00 am

The brain game

Michelle Loewenstein

Graeme Butchart is the author of The Genius Programme, a manual aimed at giving individuals, companies, corporations and governments a way to understand what is stifling their ability to think differently.


He speaks about how we can stop ourselves from falling into the trap of never thinking outside of the box.

Your programme is based on the premise that we lose our ability to be creative as we get older. Why do you think this is?

Graeme Butchart (GB): We learn what we do through repetition and our brains become “hardwired” into that pattern. We know this as habit. We can “see” the manifestation of our behavioural habits; we don’t “see” our thinking become habit. We are all subjected to this conditioning during school and tertiary education. By the time we enter the workplace all originality of thinking has been squashed and overpowered by this dominant linear method.

The older we become the longer our thinking has been programmed into being the same. The consequence of this is our thinking becomes unconscious. We no longer are even aware of what we think, we just do. And then we feel disappointed or unhappy at the outcome. Yet, we cannot see that had we accessed a new thinking approach it may have led to a different untried actions and outcomes.



What is the key to innovative thinking?

GB: Innovative thinking can be described as the ability to keep asking questions that lead to insights and opportunities that hadn’t previously existed. When these insights are revealed the opportunity to act on them creates the innovation. “What if?” often precedes the innovative discovery.

A study of all the truly remarkable innovators and innovations presents the questioning mind as the common denominator. So, the key to innovative thinking is to keep asking incisive and enquiring questions in a deliberate and directed fashion.

If you were to create the perfect school curriculum, what would you include in it?

GB: I believe there is an opportunity in how we schedule the learning of content. What I would like to see are shorter lesson lengths. Let’s get real about our attention spans – 20 minutes! Then between the usual subjects we insert 10 to 15 minutes sessions where the learner and teacher engage in opposite thinking work – sessions devoted to exploring questions and mind challenges.

Activities that engage other spheres of the brain’s activities, like dance, drama, play, music debate etc. This would help balance the brain’s use of rational and creative thinking.

How has this programme changed your life?

GB: My life had changed prior to creating the programme. Previously I was in pursuit of wealth, status and power, all of which I acquired, yet I remained empty and unfulfilled. When a crisis hit me hard I had no alternative to but to redesign myself. Today I get to help other people realise their dreams and ambitions – how blessed am I? I moved from helping myself into helping others.

Picture: Supplied.

Picture: Supplied.

What sets this programme apart from similar “self-help” strategies?

GB: The Genius Programme is a workbook. As such it doesn’t just inform, it calls on the reader to get into action. It is exceptionally practical in that it guides the reader by way of examples. It goes much further than informing you that there are problems, it provides the tools and methodology for overcoming the problems.

Once the reader has grasped the learning – they are encouraged to make the thinking shifts permanent, by working through eight exercises which are designed to embed the thinking and behaviour, creating lasting change. The final exercise is an action plan, requesting the reader to clearly, and with specific time lines, detail the steps they intend taking to direct their lives.