South Africa - Johannesburg - 17 October 2019 - Launch of the Virtual Reality Leadership Lab which regarded as the 1st of its kind in SA, it is seen as the bridge between team potential and team performance. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency(ANA).
JOHANNESBURG  - A Virtual Reality (VR) Leadership Lab was launched by leadership development consultancy, The Networking Company, last week in a first for South Africa and Africa.

Labs have previously been opened in China and the United Arab Emirates.

The company bought a licence from Jenson8, which developed the technology and is a global VR learning content specialist.

Helen Nicholson, chief excitement officer at The Networking Company, said on Friday that they had bought the exclusive rights for Africa. She had heard about it from a colleague in Dubai, where a lab was opened six months ago and thought it was a good idea.

After bedding down South Africa, Nicholson said she aimed to expand in countries that The Networking Company did business in: Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya.

She said The Networking Company would be busy in South Africa for the next six months before taking the lab to other African countries.

The South African lab is based in Rosebank, Joburg, and Nicholson said that within the country they would go where clients wanted them to go.

South Africa - Johannesburg - 17 October 2019 - Launch of the Virtual Reality Leadership Lab which regarded as the 1st of its kind in SA, it is seen as the bridge between team potential and team performance. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency(ANA).

“I see a year down the line labs in companies so, FNB for example, would have a lab. That has already happened in Dubai.”

The lab was officially launched on Wednesday last week at the SingularityU South Africa Summit 2019 and Nicholson said it was well received.

She said that many chief executives and decision-makers had attended the event and they were looking for tools that would appeal to younger staff members because they felt they could get engagement much faster.

The new VR multiplayer education and training tool, Team VR, is seen as the bridge between team potential and team performance.

It allows 12 to 18 people on a team.

The tool is hosted in the cloud, which allows for team members’ performance to be assessed from whereever they are in Africa without being in the same place at the same time.

“Virtual reality for teams is in the early stages of entering the corporate space, moving outside the video-gaming sphere,” said Nicholson.

“Team VR utilises immersive learning to deliver training that is easily scalable, repeatable and free from distractions.”

Nicholson said that to keep performing optimally, teams had to evolve in terms of how they collaborated, how digitally savvy they were, how innovative they were and the way that they communicated with each other.

“The different scenarios they are immersed in force team members to face the impact that they have on another and allow them to make the necessary changes to their behaviour,” she added.

South Africa - Johannesburg - 17 October 2019 - Launch of the Virtual Reality Leadership Lab which regarded as the 1st of its kind in SA, it is seen as the bridge between team potential and team performance. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency(ANA).


The scenarios used in Team VR were designed to demonstrate the impact of a given situation on employees’ ability to be collaborative team players.

"Training and development through Team VR create a deeper understanding of others through utilising team dynamics,” said Nicholson, “which is different in comparison to traditional learning tools.”

According to Jenson8 Virtual, the owner of the platform, VR is taking its first steps outside the video gaming arena and entering the corporate space, bringing game theory and immersive learning opportunities to even more audiences. There were significant benefits in using VR as an education and training tool.

Jena Davidson, founder and chief executive of Jenson8, said on Friday that the company started 12 years ago and they started out not using tech. “I was actually anti-tech,” she said.

“The future of work is not about tech, it is about us, human beings. But we can use tech to better ourselves. So I set myself a challenge to look at tech to create a product to create a product to help people. I travelled around the world for a year to get inspired and found nothing. Someone told Davidson about VR.

“I was given a headset and a monster ran towards me. It was a defining moment. I had an emotional response. I felt fear. My brain told me to be scared and my heart was beating fast.”

"It sparked the idea for the technology and platforms.”

“Leadership is about behaviours. How good are we at listening? At collaboration? At being agile? At being courageous?”

The games provided in the lab, such as the game Apollo, deal with these parameters.

Davidson said that her company in the last four weeks had launched a product on ethics and compliance.

“The product looks at your value chain the decisions you might make when you are depressed. It might lead people into a grey area. It will help organisations and people make the right decisions."

Davidson said the product just “landed in the Middle East" and once they were trained up, the product would head to South Africa with The Networking Company.

South Africa - Johannesburg - 17 October 2019 - Launch of the Virtual Reality Leadership Lab which regarded as the 1st of its kind in SA, it is seen as the bridge between team potential and team performance. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency(ANA).

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