The Challenge of Change is based on a unique approach to resilience training, and is designed to bring about positive change in individuals, teams and culture. The training programme is exceptional because it is drawn directly from internationally-recognised research findings.


Derek was interested in what it was that protected some people from stress while making others more vulnerable, and answering this question led to the establishment of the Stress Research Unit at the University of York in England.  The research at the Unit focused on differences in emotional style, especially whether or not people expressed the emotion they felt and whether or not they worried about issues before they had happened and went on worrying about them afterwards.

The studies showed clearly that ruminating about emotional upset before and after events not only sustains all of the emotional feelings but also continues to trigger the physiological response to the distress that occurred at the time. This leads to sustained levels of 'fight or flight' hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which when prolonged place an unnecessary demand on the cardiovascular and immune systems. These results contradicted traditional beliefs about stress and resilience, and have been recognised as a significant paradigm shift. 


Working with serving officers in the North Yorkshire Police Force in the 1980s led Derek to develop the Challenge of Change (CoC) Resilience Training programme based on this research. Being an active researcher meant that the effectiveness of the training could be rigorously tested, and evidence from carefully controlled studies showed significant changes in health, performance and sickness-absence that were sustained over 18-month follow-ups (see the Sickness Absence case study). Around this time Derek established The Work Skills Centre Ltd., a consultancy to market and deliver The CoC Resilience training.

The Challenge of Change (CoC) Resilience Training programme turns conventional stress management on its head.  It draws a clear distinction between pressure and stress rather than the misleading idea of good and bad stress, and contradicts the widely held view that some stress is good for you. Pressure is undoubtedly useful and motivating, but all that stress offers is a short, miserable life. The CoC Resilience programme defines stress as ruminating about emotional upset.

Going over and over all the things in your life that never actually happened is self-evidently a miserable thing to do, and will certainly have an impact on health, but we need to keep the issue about stress and health in perspective. That means practising resilience not to live longer, but to live better. Quality of life isn't something you look forward to perhaps having at some future time if you survive. Hence the real emphasis in The CoC Resilience Training programme: that the imagined past and future are just dreams. Real life is now, and real resilience is being able to maintain clarity of mind in all circumstances. The first essential step is to wake up out of the dream of the past or future, then to keep your attention under control, to maintain a detached perspective, and to let go of the 'what-ifs' and 'if-onlys' that characterise stress. You're then free to access the past and the future intentionally, drawing on your experience to act appropriately and without the confusion and entanglements of rumination.


The CoC Resilience programme quickly became established in the UK, and was widely implemented in a range of public and private sector companies. There are now five accredited trainers offering the programme across the UK, organised by The UK Master Trainer, Dr. Jo Clarke.  The Work Skills Centre Ltd. (NZ) was established in New Zealand when Derek moved there in 2003, and the implementation of the training in NZ showed similar strong growth.  He was joined by an accredited associate, Cynthia Johnson, who is now a Master Trainer in the programme.  Although Derek returned to the UK in 2015, the training continues to thrive in New Zealand, offered by Cynthia and a second accredited associate, Dr. Peter Blyde.

The CoC Resilience Training was introduced into the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in 2014.  CCL is acknowledged as one of the foremost providers of leadership training in the world.  The introduction of the CoC programme was initiated by an accredited associate, Nick Petrie, who is a member of the CCL senior faculty and is a CoC Master Trainer.  A number of CCL facilitators have now been accredited to begin providing the training, which forms part of the company's customised leadership training programmes. 

If like a growing number of leading organisations you would like to benefit from the Challenge of Change, then why wait, please get in touch today.