Pentacle (The Virtual Business School)

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Pentacle (The Virtual Business School) is an independent business school providing bespoke executive education and executive development. Pentacle uses a teaching approach that makes innovative use of virtual technologies[1] coupled with a unique curriculum of practical business tools. The UK office is at Burke Lodge [1] (also known as Burke House)[2], a landmark 16th century coaching inn[2] in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England. Pentacle also has offices in France, the USA, Ireland, the Netherlands and South Africa.

Pentacle The Virtual Business School
Burke Lodge
Established 1992
Type Business school
Principal Professor Eddie Obeng
Location Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom


Pentacle was established in 1992 by Professor Eddie Obeng described by the Financial Times as "a leading revolutionary"[3] and by Abbey National as their "secret weapon".[4] It moved to its current premises, Burke Lodge, in Beaconsfield in 1994 and hosted its first training event on Project Management for Nuclear Electric (now part of British Energy) later that year. At the same time, Pentacle started to develop virtual reality business games on the now redundant Superscape platform [3] and used LearningSpace [4] & Notes 3.0 [5] from Lotus (now IBM) to deliver the first virtual business education sessions for Motorola. The following year Pentacle taught Lotus how to use its own product for delivering virtual learning. In parallel with the development of the company, Professor Obeng produced a series of books that describe the work of the organisation and regularly contributes to publications such as: Project Manager Today [6] and the Financial Times [7]. By 2003, Pentacle had established offices in France and, a year later in the Netherlands and South Africa; in 2009, Pentacle launched in Ireland.

Teaching approach[edit]

Professor Obeng developed the core principle that underpins the work of the organisation: that the rate of change in the world now exceeds our ability to learn. As a result, the traditional structures and processes for doing business (the "Old World") have become ineffective. Success in an environment where the pace of change exceeds our ability to learn (the "New World") can only come if businesses adopt new ways of learning and implementing that knowledge. This is perhaps best summarised by Eric Hoffer‟s reflection that "In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists".[5]

Pentacle demystifies traditional business school teaching to remove unnecessary theory and focus on practical tools that can be applied in the real world in "a continuous link between learning and implementation".[6] It uses teaching techniques that ensure that skills are learned and can be applied immediately,[7] [8] The approach has been published in the Gower Handbook of Management [9]

The Pentacle teaching approach is divided into five stages that are based around David A. Kolb's experiential learning styles.

  • Engage, to build trust with the client and understand their needs
  • Diagnose, to establish the key ‘levers’ the management team need to seize to make an opportunity work and/or to find the root cause/ barriers to turn-around.
  • Design, to work out how to re-align the management team’s active or perhaps frenetic daily-life in order to ‘insert’ the learning required to transform it.
  • Implement, to deliver the learning and support its application around both hard (process) and soft (people) issues.
  • Embed, to remove the barriers to the new learning taking hold.

Learning content[edit]

The Pentacle learning material is divided into five subject areas that are intended to reflect the broad challenges experienced by managers and executives in the New World: How do I invent the future? How do I deliver the future? How do I deliver today? How do I lead organised talent? How do I ensure results?

  • Inventing the Future; uses proprietary tools such as the SPARQS model and the RABBIT process help to develop new ideas and ensure that they are turned into successful innovation.
  • Delivering the Future; makes use of the four project types[8] developed by Pentacle to better manage complex projects. These are "Painting by Numbers, a "Quest", a "Film" and a "Foggy Project" each requiring a different management approach in order to ensure success.
  • Delivering Today; uses a number of tools such as the "Money Making Machine" to help to prioritise activity.
  • Leading Organised Talent; uses the principles of behavioural leadership to support managers to create and manage effective teams.
  • Ensuring Results makes use of assessed learning styles to make sure that implemented actions are sustained.

Research, education and knowledge[edit]

Pentacle PETs (Performance Enhancement Tools)[edit]

Pentacle uses a range of tools to support managers to operate more effectively. These include:

  • Blueprint, to support the delivery of strategic change programmes
  • Jigsaw, to help deliver complex projects
  • Money Making Machine, to focus on the bottom line
  • RABBIT, to deliver systematic innovation
  • Socratiz, a portfolio of metrics, self-assessment tests and new world questions to assist in diagnosis
  • Livingstone, to simplify the supplier-customer process chain.

Pentacle knowledge[edit]

Pentacle shares its knowledge through its publications (listed below), its website (which is open to all) and through regular events such as monthly inspiration evenings.

Teaching methods[edit]

A variety of teaching methods are used at Pentacle which include case studies, lectures, peer-to-peer learning, tutorials, group work, simulations and role-plays.

Business simulation games[edit]

Pentacle uses a number of bespoke business simulation games to help stimulate and embed learning.


  • All Change: Project Manager's Secret Handbook (Financial Times Management Series) by Eddie Obeng, August 1996
  • New Rules for the New World: Cautionary Tales for the New World Manager by Eddie Obeng, March 2001
  • The Complete Leader by Eddie Obeng and Christophe Gillet, Feb 2008
  • Putting Strategy to Work: The Blueprint for Transforming Ideas into Action (Financial Times Management Series) by Eddie Obeng and Jim Durcan, Dec 1995
  • Perfect Projects (New World) by Eddie Obeng, Jan 2002
  • Making Re-engineering Happen: What's Wrong with the Organization Anyway? (Financial Times Management Series) by Eddie Obeng and Stuart Crainer, Dec 1995


  1. ^ The Daily Telegraph, Thursday 25 June 1998
  2. ^ Beaconsfield Old Town Conservation Area Character Appraisal, November 2007, South Bucks Council
  3. ^ Financial Times, Friday 12 July 1996
  4. ^ Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, Volume 16, Number 1, 2002 , pp. 4–6(3)
  5. ^ Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition [32], 1973
  6. ^ Finance and Management, July 2000
  7. ^ Roger Trapp, Financial Director 2 Jun 2004
  8. ^ Project Supply Chain Management: From Agile to Lean Bjørn Egil Asbjørnslett 4 July 2003 Page 3 of 9

External links[edit]


Pentacle Related Sites[edit]

Coordinates: 51°36′08″N 0°38′06″W / 51.6022°N 0.6350°W / 51.6022; -0.6350