This issue we roadtest Jenson8’s virtual reality multi-player workshop

What is it?

Coaching and development company Jenson8’s new workshop for corporates draws on a multi-player virtual reality (VR) platform to immerse participants in scenarios designed for the strongest impact.

In its virtual worlds, participants safely experience through gameplay difficult situations to learn how their behaviour, environment, stress and reaction to stress triggers different outcomes. The workshop brings together game theory and immersive learning techniques to create an impressively successful education and training tool.


How it works

Jenson8 VR workshops seek to provide a greater understanding of oneself and others by using more sensory capabilities and motor skills than traditional learning tools. As a result, cause and effect are tightly linked in the minds of users and the lessons learned during the VR experience are deeply anchored for a longer lasting impact, particularly on users’ attitude and empathy.

Most importantly, the experience provides participants with the necessary understanding and opportunity to make the appropriate changes in the workplace, and transformation to a stronger, higher performing and more efficient team/function/region/organisation can be truly achieved.

Further information

Jenson8 runs workshops all over the world to increase organisational effectiveness by analysing team dynamics and improving the way people interact with each other and make decisions. The company works with cross-functional and cross-cultural teams in multiple industries. Clients include HSBC, Astra Zeneca, BP, Ernst & Young, Kingfisher plc, BBC Worldwide, HM Courts & Tribunals Service and Eversheds Sutherland. The company has held workshops in more than 25 countries with teams on a global, regional and local scale.



Having arrived in a rather unusual setting we were a mixture of totally intrigued, sceptical and nervous about what we were to experience. That in itself is a great step before learning – it changes the natural state of mind to one of ‘not knowing’.

Four brave individuals went first and got wired up in individual rooms with head gear on, while the rest of us stayed outside, but could watch everything on three screens – what they could each see, what they looked like in reality and the overall event, which we could also intervene in at any stage.

The game then progressed at various stages, with the team needing to work out fast how to work with each other and progress together to next stages through real collaboration, through progressing in a complex set of tasks, some more ambiguous than others.

This can be done in multiple rounds with various team members at each stage taking a detailed review in between and receiving coaching from Jena and the team – to enhance team performance throughout.

  • Karen Adams is leadership and OD programme lead at West Midlands Leadership Academy

The Application

For any group of people, though intact teams would also be superb to test.


The verdict

An amazing experience – we all loved it and would love to bring an intact team back to test it further. ‘Star perfomers’ emerge that may not be obvious (as novices to the technology) and yet you can only progress as fast as the slowest player to further levels. It demonstrated how listening skills, experimentation and sharing failures are essential.

It formed a bond in our team very quickly as you must help each other, and achieving the collective goal in a state of heightened ambiguity focuses the mind quickly.

On detailed review and coaching exploration afterwards, our personality differences and usual habits clearly played out.

  • Samantha King is global head of executive development at Standard Chartered Bank (SCB).



King was accompanied by colleagues on the workshops. Their feedback is shared below.


  • “The possibilities make my mind boggle!”

Guy Whitcher, SCB head of learning

  • “It’s like being submerged in a video game and playing in the first person. Fascinating to see your default behaviours emerge as you take on the unknown as a group, learning on the fly and under huge time pressure. A great way to facilitate a discussion on team dynamics, based on a shared experience in a non-work context”

Jenna Nicholls, SCB associate director

  • l “I thought it was great – going second, one does pick up tips from watching the first group but the adrenalin still pumps as I tried to work out how to find and then use my next bit of kit”

Emma MacDermot-Roe, SCB executive director, conduct


  • “I learned a lot about how I react to things (what’s-the-task… let-me-get-on-with-it-and-deliver) and it’s a fascinating and very quick way of identifying some core components that make up an individual (that they can’t really argue with when they’re also being observed!)“It’s very different from other techniques because it is so immersive – from the moment it starts you completely invest yourself in the process and as all your senses are submerged in this virtual reality you react in a very honest way… . I can certainly see this being used in an awareness raising environment, coaching, team-building and identifying personal traits… . Having never played video games or tried VR before I was slightly reticent that I would enjoy the demonstration but I absolutely loved it! The simulation is so impressive and of such amazing quality that it made the scenario feel completely real when you are in it”

Rebekah Heaven, SCB governance, control & technology senior manager


  • “I learnt a lot about myself (and ability to accidentally kill all my colleagues as I jumped to solutions and didn’t listen to instructions!). Great application for us understanding more about communication, team building, collaboration and learning styles. Our international graduates would love it, but equally I could see this being used in executive programmes as something new and very different from anything else we do. Particularly as it is energising and practical (whereas some of the other material at the executive level is more thoughtful and cerebral) – so it would be an excellent complement”

Libby Denchfield, SCB programme director, group conduct


Pros and Cons


  • Experiential, impressive simulation that felt completely 360 real in it
  • Totally immersive, absorbing
  • Radical, different, exciting
  • Individual differences show up fast linked to how well we contribute in teams – could be linked to personality data
  • Performance orientated – focused on collaboration and problem solving
  • You overcome fear of it and learn quickly
  • Transportable kit with trained team


  • Downside
  • Can be used with larger teams, but only in multiple rounds of four
  • New unique scenarios need investment/designing upfront
  • Cautious use during assessment – some individuals may have a physical reaction (eg, vertigo).


  • Samantha G King is global head of executive development at Standard Chartered Bank
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