Pentacle (The Virtual Business School)
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|Location||Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom|
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 coupled with a unique curriculum of practical business tools.
The UK office is at Burke Lodge (also known as Burke House), a landmark 16th century coaching inn in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England. Pentacle also has offices in France, the USA, Ireland, the Netherlands and South Africa.
Pentacle was established in 1992 by Eddie Obeng described by the Financial Times as "a leading revolutionary" and by Abbey National as their "secret weapon". 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  and used LearningSpace & Notes 3.0 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. By 2003, Pentacle had established offices in France and, a year later in the Netherlands and South Africa; in 2009, Pentacle launched in Ireland.
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".
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". It uses teaching techniques that ensure that skills are learned and can be applied immediately, The approach has been published in the Gower Handbook of Management 
- 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.
Research, education and knowledge
Pentacle PETs (Performance Enhancement Tools)
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.
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
Pentacle uses a number of bespoke business simulation games to help stimulate and embed learning.
- The Daily Telegraph, Thursday 25 June 1998
- Beaconsfield Old Town Conservation Area Character Appraisal, November 2007, South Bucks Council
- Financial Times, Friday 12 July 1996
- Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, Volume 16, Number 1, 2002 , pp. 4–6(3)
- Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition , 1973
- Finance and Management, July 2000
- Roger Trapp, Financial Director 2 Jun 2004