What Conservatives think about Brexit

This is a resignation speech from young Conservative member of the peerage Edmund Limerick, who is leaving the party due to his concerns about Brexit. It expresses well the PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, Ethical, Environmental) factors upon which big decisions should be made, rather than reducing them to snappy populist slogans. Please back our plan to tour the UK to engage in a meaningful dialogue with people across the political spectrum on our forthcoming General Election.

Lords save us

Dear David,

Please take this email as notice of my resignation from the ACP [Association of Conservative Peers] and the Conservative Party.

I was recently advised that the three qualities required for a prospective Tory peer were experience, hard work and loyalty.

A year ago loyalty meant commitment to remaining in the EU. Now it apparently means commitment to leaving the EU Customs Union. I cannot be loyal to this unmandated and suicidal policy.

I remain convinced that a hard Brexit is the greatest mistake this country can ever make, and one which will haunt us for generations to come. We have spent over 40 years building a common market with our EU partners and although the work is far from complete, it has resulted in remarkable economic and political success for the UK and Europe as whole, acting as a magnet first for southern nations such as Spain, Portugal and Greece to transition from dictatorship to democracy, then for the newly liberated countries of eastern Europe to join the club, all of them with strong British encouragement. The large EU country which has benefited most of all is arguably the UK. Our free trade traditions, English language, natural borders and retention of our own currency have given us all the benefits and few of the costs of membership. Notably we have largely escaped the effects from mass immigration from North Africa which are so afflicting southern Europe at present. It makes our present obsession with immigration look petty and selfish, against a backdrop of real misery and crisis in the Middle East and Africa and along its EU borders.

Economically we have benefited from becoming the international gateway for foreign investment into Europe. Margaret Thatcher made huge efforts to attract the likes of Honda and Nissan to the UK, turning us over 30 years from the sick man of Europe into one of its leading car exporters. Bankers may not be popular, but the City of London has created great wealth for the south east, and it also contributes at least 11% of the country’s tax income and enables the UK to run a current account deficit and public services it would not otherwise be able to afford.

I acknowledge the result of last year’s referendum but I fundamentally disagree that a 52% protest vote, a vote denied to EU nationals living in the UK, gives the government a mandate to do anything more than to negotiate exit terms with the EU and then report back to Parliament and the country as a whole for a further vote once it becomes clear what Brexit really means.

What will it mean? It is delusional to think that the EU under its reinvigorated Macron-Merkel Franco-German leadership will do anything other than defend the EU’s own interests, foremost of which is a demonstration that leaving the EU is a costly and disastrous mistake. Juncker was right: the EU will act to ensure that the UK is punished. And they’ll gladly pick up our financial services industry and our other exporting industries rendered uneconomic by the risk of future tariffs. There is simply no way that any possible deal with the EU will be better than the one we have just torn up.

The results of hard Brexit or no deal (the most probable outcome considering it took the EU and Canada 8 years to agree a marriage, let alone a divorce and then a new relationship) once the Article 50 two years have expired will include inflation, a rise in the cost of living, collapse of foreign investment, significant job losses not only in the City but across the country, a loss of international influence, and quite likely the secession of Scotland (if the English can ’have their country back’ why should they not too?) and Northern Ireland, which will not be happy about the reimposition of customs and immigration controls along its border with the Republic, which will have better living standards to boot.

The United Kingdom will no longer be united. Great Britain will no longer be great. Little Englanders will have got what they wanted: little england. I predict considerable public anger, especially amongst the young who voted overwhelmingly to remain and whose futures are being so casually squandered.

And what will this new England be like? Our negotiating power will be feeble. A free trade agreement with China which still has political prisoners and slave labour will flood us with cheap imports and do nothing for protection of UK jobs and standards. A free trade agreement with a protectionist USA will flood us with subsidised food products that would also not meet current UK or EU standards. We shall likely see 30 mile queues towards the Channel Ports as the French reimpose customs inspections in Calais. Apart from fishermen (the only Brexiteers whose views I respect) no-one will be better off.

If you have bothered to read this far I thank you humbly for your patience and urge you to use your position within a party that looks set to gain a substantial Commons majority to back the voice of common sense and reason, no matter what the pressure from the Whips. Unless there is a crisis resulting in a new general election it seems that the focus of debate will move to within the Tory party.

As for me, I am joining the Lib Dems in the hope that a grand coalition of the sensible, moderate, non Europhobic and non suicidal public might be created out of the hitherto silent ranks of sensible Tories and sensible Labour supporters who are neither hard Brexiteers nor Corbynistas. We may yet see the creation of a new centre party. For now the Brexit tail is wagging the Tory dog, and I am bowing out.

Sincerely,

Edmund Limerick

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Please support our UK wide tour to restore informed dialogue to our country. Currently calling at:

HOVE / LEWES – SAT 20 May

BATH / BRISTOL / SWINDON – SUN 28 May  or 04 June – As Part of The Bath Festival

IPSWICH – MON 29 May – Beach Baby Party and “GE / Brexit Live Jam Session”

YORK – FRI 2 June – We go head to head with BBC’s “Any Questions” !!

With more dates possible in between these ones. Contact me to organise an event. We live stream the events for maximum reach and impact across the planet.

Mantras obscure the truth

The House of Lords’ Prayer – A parody which we use on Downing Street Vigils to point out the folly of Brexit

 

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Riding the waves of change

I am a massive fan of Professor Charles Handy’s work, having met him a few times over the years. His work on portfolio careers and change in “The Empty Raincoat” resonated strongly with me when I started my business 20 years ago, in terms of the need to recognise that every business has it’s “Sigmoid Curve”. The important move in personal or business life is to recognise when you are at a point of inflexion and start a new Sigmoid Curve, as shown in this diagram:

We are in an age where a job for life hardly exists any more. Reflecting on my career it turns out that I reinvent myself in 18 year cycles: 18 years in science, leading teams to develop life-saving pharmaceuticals; 18 years teaching MBA’s in academia and; 18+ years starting up and running a business. Around 2008 I foresaw a need to adapt once again, as the recession began. As the end of 2014 approaches, I’m reflecting on some of the results of the decisions I made to make some fundamental changes back in 2008 that are leading me into my “4th age”.

Ain’t no mountain high enough …

To be effective as a consultancy business these days, you need to be a global player due to client requirements around the world. Although we’ve delivered projects across the world using our own networks in the USA and Europe, our partnership with Nadine Hack’s Global Network is a major landmark in our development as a global player and I’m humbled to have been chosen to be in such superb company.

Another important achievement in terms of scope and scale was winning a prize for our work on Leadership from Sir Richard Branson. These events have changed my perceptions as to what we might be capable of achieving in 2015.

Nadine Hack is a world leader in trustworthy behaviour and leadership

Comparing notes on Virgin albums – Meeting Sir Richard Branson

Frustrations and False Starts

Fame doesn’t pay the bills and the year has continued to be “lumpy” business wise, having spent considerable time on client projects which have then not proceeded due to internal or external changes which caused priorities to change.

I’ve also been taken for a ride on a couple of occasions, by people from public sector institutions and quangos, some of whom have asked me to speak at conferences for free in exchange for promises of in-kind benefits which never materialise. I reserve my free time for genuine charities and not such enterprises. A repeated series of “diversions” can kill smaller businesses and I’ve often wanted to invent an “authenticity tester” to separate the sheep from the goats in this respect. However I have not yet invented this gadget 🙂 Apparently I’m not alone in this desire!!

Has anyone invented this gadget yet?

The lesson here is to find better ways of doing the due diligence on larger projects, although sometimes the client themselves does not know that their own business is also experiencing a point of inflexion when making plans to engage external assistance. As a smaller niche business, sometimes there is little to be done other to dust yourself down and move on, rather like Jake and Elwood in “The Blues Brothers”:

Seeds of growth

That said, many times things work out fine and we’ve also had a series of very enjoyable consultancy and speaking projects in Estonia, Ireland, Romania and Germany in 2014 and promises of others in the USA and elsewhere in 2015. I’ve had equivalent joy in my musical life at The Academy of Rock – interviews with George Clinton, Roberta Flack, John Mayall, AC / DC’s drummer and, recently, joint performances with Patti Russo – Meatloaf’s long term singing partner at Henley Business School, a corporate gig for HP’s annual awards ceremony and an awesome gig in London with Bernie Tormé, guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne and Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan.

With Patti Russo at Henley Business School, Bernie Tormé at London’s Borderline, at the HP awards in Brighton, interviewing George Clinton (Prince’s spiritual Godfather) and discussing HR leadership and the Virgin Way in Romania. Below our interview with Roberta Flack

If your business is to become a true Learning Company, this involves both what Peter Senge calls “learning” and more importantly “unlearning”. So, in pursuing my new pathway as a global consultancy and keynote speaker and performer alongside my role as a business author and facilitator, what have I had to learn and let go of in order to gain momentum for change?

Learning and unlearning to adapt

To do new things, this means letting go of the “familiar”. I’ve had to turn down a few projects this year, which, although they would pay a wage, would have filled my diary, making it impossible to pursue these new directions. Leadership is as much about saying no as it is saying yes to requests.

When pursuing larger projects, there is more risk of companies defaulting on their requests. One needs to be resilient, both emotionally and financially to “play with the big boys”. I have my mum to thank for the business principle of “never a borrower or a lender be”, having never had a loan in 20 years of business and have survived the longest and deepest recession in recent times, so I feel well prepared to deal with such things. Nonetheless it is galling to spend months of your time in preparation for projects which get cancelled due to wider strategic changes. I must get better at dusting myself down from such occurrences and, hopefully, minimising them in the first place.

In pursuing a global strategy, I need to develop exceptional collaborative bonds with people who I have not necessarily spent a lot of time working face to face with. This investment in relationships ultimately leads to a return in terms of more significant and rewarding projects. Trust matters much more when you are working at a distance with people and this must be allocated a good amount of time.

Hopes and Fears for 2015

1. I’m looking to develop the relationship as a writer and partner with Virgin.com.

2. I’m also hoping to launch a new groundbreaking book on innovation and creativity that blends world class research with the pragmatism of “what works” in the field.

3. I will continue to develop the Human Dynamics and Academy of Rock brands and networks so that they compete well with the usual suspects.

4. I’m hoping to receive less fake requests for assistance, but one never knows … To be an adaptive organisation, one needs to have a plan and also be nimble and responsive …

To adapt, sometimes one needs to switch the points towards an unknown destination …

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics, offering better Organisation Development, Training and Coaching. He offers keynotes that blend World Class Leadership Thinking with the wisdom of the street via The Academy of Rock – where Business Meets Music. Author of seven books on Business Leadership, acclaimed by Tom Peters, Professors Charles Handy, Adrian Furnham and Harvey Goldsmith CBE. Connect with us on our Linkedin Company Page and join our group The Music of Business where we discuss parallel lessons from Business and Music.

From Competitive Advantage to Collaborative Advantage

The last 100 years of business wisdom in the West has been dominated by the notion of Competitive Advantage, whereby a company or enterprise develops a product or a set of capabilities that confers some kind of unique advantage versus its competitors, ideally over an extended period of time. The concept was championed by Michael Porter via his tomes, “Competitive Advantage” and “The Competitive Advantage of Nations”. Essentially Porter’s theory is Charles Darwin for business people. Here’s an account of our recent evolution from the agrarian through the industrial to the information age.  It is not clear from this infographic whether intelligence has increased …

If Dinosaurs ruled the Earth ...

If Dinosaurs ruled the Earth …

It’s time we moved to the notion of Collaborative Advantage in a joined up world. Innovation is now so complex that it is rare for the capabilities and intelligence required to convert a new idea into a sustainable business, product or service to reside within one individual or discipline. Alongside this, the impact of our actions on the world has become correspondingly greater and we must therefore look to collaboration as a tool if we are to have a chance of making the world a better place.

But, it’s not easy. As with Darwin’s ideas about competition, the human condition tends to place emphasis on looking after number one as a priority, especially when under pressure. So voluntary activity is necessary but not sufficient to achieve the required changes. On the positive side, some companies are taking the lead in setting the conditions where collaboration is seen to be a better option than going it alone:

Unilever are at the forefront of innovation through collaboration, offering incentives for individuals to come up with ingenious ideas. So too are many small entrepreneurial start up businesses, assisted by crowdfunding. It really is possible to be small and global now. I wrote recently about the power of Collaboration for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Entrepreneur blog. Read the piece here at Collaboration and Crowdfunding.

At a personal level, I was recently invited to give a guest keynote and collaborative musical experience at Henley Business School. Collaborating with people and organisations that you don’t own or control is a completely different animal compared with the traditional organisation model and it requires a completely different type of leadership. I am delighted to be associated with an institution that understands the difference and designs it into their Executive Education programmes.

We were blessed to have a guest appearance from Patti Russo, Meatloaf’s long term female singing partner. I’ve been working with Patti to develop the next stage of her career and she kindly agreed to come along as a special guest. Patti is a living, breathing example of someone who has collaborated with some of the biggest egos on Planet Earth. She performs with much of rock’s royalty including Cher, Queen and in the theatre with the LA version of “We Will Rock You”. A magical moment was when we launched into “Dead Ringer for Love” during the live performance part of the evening. The entire audience of leaders stood up to salute her! I was also privileged to do an acoustic “aftershow” with Patti in the bar at Henley, where we performed “You can’t always get what you want” and “I would do anything for love”, which included some great delegate collaboration.

I would do anything for love - with Patti Russo and Masterclass at Henley Business School

I would do anything for love – with Patti Russo and Masterclass at Henley Business School – Click the picture to book Patti for a unique experience

I’m also delighted to have been invited to join a global collaboration with Nadine Hack for a more sustainable business world. Nadine’s contribution to finding joined up solutions to complex world problems is unparalleled and she has started this network to continue and accelerate her work.

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 10.31.20

Nadine Hack – Leader of a Global Network for a more sustainable world – click on the picture to find out more

Action Points

  • Competitive Advantage must be matched with Collaborative Advantage
  • Collaboration is easy to say but runs counter to many people’s DNA, so we must work hard at it
  • The internet can facilitate enterprise through collaboration via crowdfunding. See Sir Richard Branson’s articles on Collaboration Virgin.com for more on this
  • Leaders can learn to collaborate if they choose to. Please get in touch with Nadine Hack or myself to discuss collaborative leadership

To finish, here’s a song from Patti that literally sums up idea of being “under pressure”:

The “F” Word – Leadership Lessons from Failure

This Saturday September 06 I am presenting at The Institute for Contemporary Music Performance on the subject of failure. It’s a word that managers fear, yet any successful leader or entrepreneur will usually have failed a few times if they are talking honestly about success. The lecture offers practical lessons about entrepreneurship, strategy, creativity, project planning, team leadership and execution of your strategy for people trying to do new things, via the medium of a case study. Before you ask, NOOO, it’s not your usual dull business case study!!  Read on and check out the full conference at ICMP

Failure and Success - The truth

Failure and Success – The truth

Some years ago, I sponsored an audacious plan to circumnavigate the world on a rock’n’roll tour, performing at the greatest venues on the planet and taking your audience with you. I invested nearly £50 000 of my life savings in order to help my friend John Otway to advance the enterprise forward. Alas, my involvement came too late and despite achieving a temporary turnaround in fortunes, it was not enough to recover the situation and I most the money and about 6 months effort in an attempt to help John realise his dream. I dubbed the project, “The Real Spinal Tap Tour”.  Take a look at the promo video for the tour to get a flavour of the ambition:

Like most business enterprises, the John Otway World Tour was a GREAT idea, poorly EXECUTED.  It is never enough to have a great idea in business. Meticulous execution skills are needed to bring the idea into existence and I will explore the successes, near misses and downright catastrophes that led to the eventual meltdown of the project.  To whet your appetite, here are a few stunning facts about the tour:

A comedy of errors...

A comedy of errors…

Our presentation is available in your company with parallel lessons for businesses. We are also available to help you avoid similar flights of fancy or to turn difficult corners in your own projects. For the moment, here is the magical moment that started John Otway’s career, when he fell off an amplifier on The Old Grey Whistle Test, injuring vital parts. This is a stunt which Otway has developed in his career ever since, including our performance at Pfizer:

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics, offering better Organisation Development, Training and Coaching. He offers keynotes that blend World Class Leadership Thinking with the wisdom of the street via The Academy of Rock – where Business Meets Music. Author of seven books on Business Leadership, acclaimed by Tom Peters, Professors Charles Handy, Adrian Furnham and Harvey Goldsmith CBE.

Global Networks

Nadine Hack, pictured with Jerry Dunfey at The White House on St Patrick's Day

Nadine Hack, pictured with Jerry Dunfey at The White House on St Patrick’s Day

I’m delighted and humbled to be included amongst the exclusive global network of Nadine Hack, Leader of beCause Global Consulting.  Nadine is a thought leader in the area of responsible and sustainable leadership over 30 years and has recently formalised her global network of trusted associates. Take a look at the incredible cast of experts on The beCause Website.

I asked Nadine to explain more.

Peter:  What’s uniquely valuable about this network?

Nadine:  The beCause network is truly global.  We cover The Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and The Middle East, with multilingual, multidisciplinary capabilities.  Our core is represented in this model:

The beCause Core offering

The beCause core offering

The beCause network adds specific capacities in social media, sustainability, conflict resolution, entrepreneurship, executive search, gender equity, design, public relations and much more.

Peter:  What has driven the development?

Nadine: On the one hand, corporates increasingly demand that their partners exhibit size and scale around the world. Whilst we have that size and scale, it is not immediately apparent to some of the people who source our expertise.  The network makes this collective capability visible.  At a purely personal level, I am thrilled to highlight people with the highest integrity and who therefore can make an important contribution to the world in which we are entering, where sustainable business practices and ethical leadership are no longer nice to have, but essentials in a world which badly needs transformational change.

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 17.00.12

Peter:  What are your hopes for the network?

Nadine:  I’ve always believed in teams and the power of collaboration.  It’s something that I help my clients achieve within their organizations.  And, I’m proud to model it in my own company by introducing an extraordinary network  of diverse talent from around the world.

For an insight into Nadine’s work take a look at an extract from one of her talks below on sustainable business practice.  This highlights her extensive experience that sustainable business is good business for all concerned.  This is no longer a fringe activity, it is core business as companies like Unilever, Microsoft, Wal-Mart and so on will tell you.  The network has already attracted interest from companies around the world for various services, including one that is interested to develop their leadership capabilities in terms of ethical behaviour around the world, another that wants to develop their social media presence and so on.

For me personally, I’m delighted to be part of such a superb group of collaborators.  As Archimedes said:

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it and I shall move the world” 

Nadine Hack’s beCause Network offers to multiply Archimedes’ principle many times.

Levers of Change

Levers of Change – Nadine Hack’s beCause Network

The future of data

Big Data

I recently presented and facilitated a summit event for 100 people to explore the future of clinical data management using a suite of creativity and innovation techniques with my colleague, friend and associate Steve Gorton.  The issue of data management is complex and contentious.  As an illustration of this, the NHS recently withdrew a strategy to sell patient data to interested parties, after it asked the public to opt OUT of an imposed strategy rather than to opt IN. This serious misjudgement of public opinion has caused outrage and has required the NHS to reconsider its strategy. It is self evident that the collection of large volumes of health data has potentially huge health benefits if treatments for diseases can be found from this. However the strategy also has some potential downsides if moral hazard creeps in, with insurance companies using the data to hike insurance fees for certain classes of people, the potential for it to be used in recruitment and so on.  It seems that the reaction is made up of a number of concerns for ‘data leakage’ coupled with concerns about who owns the data and therefore who can benefit from its sale to third parties. Treatment of this topic as if it is a benign issue has cost the NHS a lot of money and an equivalent amount of credibility. The topic is complex with many unknown and unknowable parts.  It’s what Steve and I call a ‘wicked problem’:

Wicked problems - uncertain ends and means or both

Wicked problems – uncertain ends and means or both

So, what did the clinical data management managers make of the session? Rather than providing a suite of creativity tools, we offered them the chance to immerse themselves in three ‘creativity states’.  All good proprietary creativity techniques are based on some underlying ‘states of mind’, which occur naturally when people are in the mode of ideation. The three we offered are shown below.  These were found to be easier and quicker to access than the recipes for creativity offered by the product based creativity consultancies.

Three creativity principles from Human Dynamics

Three creativity principles from Human Dynamics

To bring these alive delegates explored “The future of clinical data management”.  They were asked to produce the most interesting and most unusual ideas to unpick the topic and “drain the Clinical Data Management swamp”. One theme was “Defining the role of clinical data management so everyone understands where the future lies”.  Why?  Because it is felt the rest of the system does not have much awareness or understands the key role that Clinical Data Management plays within the developmental process. Our first step was to break the wicked problem down into some more manageable chunks given the short time allocation.  This is how we ended up:

Digesting a wicked problem into more manageable entities using expert facilitation

Digesting a wicked problem into more manageable entities using expert facilitation

The headline outputs that are shareable from the session broke down into the “Most Interesting” ideas for further development and the “Most Unusual” ideas to act as provocations for more detailed thinking:

Wonderful and Wierd ideas for future development

Wonderful and Wierd ideas for future development

Most interesting: “What would be the outcome if Clinical Data Management  were to go on strike?” – developed from the reversal principle – this produced a rich seam of ideas, some of which have real value to the participant’s own companies if developed

Most unusual:  “Redefine and develop the brand so it remains current and up to date (like the annual Formula 1 team rebranding)” – developed from the projection principle.  This pointed participants to consider ideas in the arena of PR and marketing, not natural areas of strength for the profession

Whilst these require further development (and the groups went on to develop a broad range of more specific ideas within the event) the aim was/is to get people thinking wider from at least two perspectives and come up with some really practical and pragmatic ideas that generate traction.

This type of approach enables people, teams and organisations to stand back from the “wickedness” and begin to separate “the wood from the trees” and disperse the fog of confusion.  Importantly it is about creating value to help things happen quicker, for less investment and more satisfaction within the role.

Steve teaches Peter some new chords

Steve teaches Peter some new chords from the fog of confusion ….

Would you like to find out more about how these and similar approaches allow you think further and faster outside current wisdom and experience?  We’ll offer a pack of materials to help you.  Just mail us at peter@humdyn.co.uk

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About the Author:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching. Contact via peter@humdyn.co.uk or +44 (0) 7725 927585.  Check out our online Leadership programme for FREE via The Music of Business Online.

Can I play with Madness?

I’m delighted to have been asked to provide the keynote address for a very special event coming up from conference organisers High Performance UK at their 2013 Conference at the East Midlands Conference Centre on 4th-5th October.

Can I play with Madness - well, no, they don't have guests on stage, but I do ...

Can I play with Madness? – well, no, they don’t have guests on stage, but I do …

This is a fascinating request from High Performance UK.  They called me and said, could I do a talk on ‘madness’.  Now those of you that know me would realise their are several interpretations of this, all of which I’d be able to handle ! 😉  It turned out that they have a Madness tribute act performing in the evening.  So I really wanted to stay on to perform “Night Boat to Cairo” …

But on further reflection and dialogue we ended up talking about how companies can learn rapidly so that they can adapt and reinvent themselves in a new business environment.  So, I’ve concocted a series of lessons for Learning Companies and Learning Individuals that will both entertain and also carry some powerful messages with them.   Life is busy and the idea of being a learning organisation is always tempered by people’s willingness to learn from successes and mistakes and the time they give to such things.  I’ll be drawing on over 30 years experience of working within innovation teams to come up with a series of lessons for businesses that are poignant, valuable and sticky.

Do you fancy coming along or organising something similar in your own company?  Contact me via e-mail at peter@humdyn.co.uk  Our keynote starts proceedings on Saturday 5th October.  I’ve commented on Iron Maiden’s lyrics before in letters to the Financial Times, including “Can I Play With Madness”:

Can I play with madness?

Can I Play With Madness?

So, Can I Play With Madness?  Of course we can:

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About the Blogger:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching.  Contact via peter@humdyn.co.uk