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Charles De Garston

PRISM Brain Mapping - Team Dynamics International

“I was a lazy so and so at school, I never really applied myself and as a child I grew up spending every weekend in a field somewhere because my dad was taking part in grass track racing or rallycross. Having done the motorsport thing for years, my mother always used to say, why don’t you give this up and do something sensible, like flying or something similar.

One day, a friend of my dad’s mentioned that a mate of his had just got his private pilot’s licence and asked if he wanted to come along for a flight, so he did and within a matter of months, he’d sold both the racing cars and decided to learn to fly. We were then spending every weekend at Biggin Hill, he got involved in the flying club and bought a couple of aeroplanes which he then leased back to the flying club – I was fifteen and I liked the look of this flying lark and wanted to learn how to fly.

I got myself a job with the flying club and spent every Saturday and Sunday refuelling the planes for them, this was back in 1979, it cost 21 pounds 60 an hour to learn how to fly the little two-seater plane, they used to pay me 10 pounds a day for refuelling the planes, so I nearly got an hour’s flying each weekend. Back then you weren’t allowed to fly solo until you were 17 and you needed a certain amount of solo flying to get your licence. On my seventeenth birthday I did my first solo flight as well as various cross-country things you needed to do to get your pilots licence – I got my pilot’s licence before my driving licence, I could fly an aeroplane but couldn’t drive a car to the airport!

Whilst I was at school, I got a job cleaning the classrooms in the evenings to help fund the flying, none of it was given to me, I had to work for every penny of it and pay for it all myself, after a while I fancied being a commercial pilot, but it was a bit late by then, I didn’t go the right route with exams and qualifications etc.

Dad ran a little family garage business in Groombridge, hence the motorsport thing so I went to work with him for a while, then when I came home one day, he announced that I was starting college the next day; he had signed me up to an apprenticeship. I did all my qualifications and then when dad finally retired, I ran the family business. We would build and run Ford Escort mark ones and twos for ourselves and other people and do rallying with them, I was very interested in motorsport, this was in the mid to late 80’s – my brother and I ran the garage but we were also spending a lot of time dong motorsport events and rallying, we didn’t really want to be in the motor trade, it wasn’t really my choice; I still had the hankering for flying.

One day on the way back from a summer holiday my now wife Lisa read about the world pilot shortage in the in-flight magazine, I still had the pilot’s licence so Lisa and I decided to get married, sell the rally car, sell the garage business, and raise all the money we could to pay for a career pilots’ course over in Florida. We moved to Florida as they guaranteed a job as a flying instructor once you completed the course. After spending eighteen months out there, getting all the hours I needed I returned to the UK to attend the London polytechnic to do a crash course in all the written exams that I needed. I put a huge amount of effort into the exams, and I passed everything first time! Unfortunately, this was at the time when Dan Air had gone out of business so getting a job in the commercial sector was just impossible.

Lisa’s father ran a little construction company from here in Bells Yew Green, so I worked for him for a while – I spent about six weeks fitting kerbstones and tarmacking in Tunbridge Wells to earn some money in the interim. This venue back then was known as Challenge Outdoor Pursuits and Lisa’s father Barry, along with the guy that owned the land and an ex-military physical trainer ran a part-time outdoor activity centre. Back in 1992 a gentleman called Colin Wallace who worked at the British airport’s authorities would bring groups of people over here and use the outdoor facilities to run his own team building courses. Colin is now one of the three partners in Team Dynamics, Colin left BAA and Barry, Colin and I decided to make a proper business out of it as a serious training company, rather than just a fun outdoor activity facility. That’s how Team Dynamics was formed back in 1993 and is still going strong today.

Colin has a military background, he was involved in psychological warfare and spent time in Northern Ireland in the 70’s in the peak of the troubles there, he’s now actually Dr Wallace with a PhD in Neuroscience. So, the three of us started it, Colin had the training background, I ran the business side of things and Barry looked after the site and the facilities. Both Barry and Colin are now retired so the company has diversified, and we now let part of our site out to UK Power who use it for their training. We also have training companies that come in and use the site as a venue to run their own courses, we’ve the facilities with the outdoor exercise equipment, the land, and the training rooms.

Over the years, when companies would come to us for a team development course, we always would ask them what they wanted to get from it, it was always fun, but they also wanted to learn better communication between their people. Whether it was a big corporate or a small company, it was the same issue, and we were regularly asked if we could use a psychometric test as part of the course, there’s many of them on the market. We tried using all of them, but none of them really did what we wanted them to do, it was clear what the problem was – everybody is different, and different people do things differently.

Colin Wallace was doing his PhD in neuroscience and was always interested in the psychology side, there’s many neuroscientists that have done a lot of fantastic research through MRI brain scans to see what happens in the brain, especially the outer part of the cortex and where different functions of behaviour sit. So, we developed the PRISM Brain Mapping model of behaviour as it is now. We started using it on our team building courses and everybody thought it was very good, so we decided to build an online model to profile people, so it’s all managed online. PRISM Brain Mapping was born.

It started of exclusively in the UK and we had it verified by a professor of psychology who worked at Canterbury and worked at Stanford University in the states – as it became more of a global product, we had to revisit the questionnaire for people in different ethnic and cultural groups to make it acceptable in all cultures. That was in 2012 and now PRISM is available in 26 different languages.

Both businesses are based on a 150-acre wilderness site here in Bells Yew Green, on the edge of Tunbridge Wells where the global operation is run and I like the fact that there’s a variety of things I need to do here every day, running both of the businesses, and – I’m just ten minutes from home.”


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About the business

PRISM is about observed behaviour.

It measures the intensity of a person’s expressed preference for a range of behaviours and the activities related to those behaviours. To facilitate understanding, PRISM uses colours to illustrate the behaviour preferences. Although the PRISM model is a schema for brain functioning, the PRISM maps represent the dynamic interaction that takes place within the brain and is based on the principle that no one part of the brain does solely one thing and no one part of the brain acts alone.

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