Marshall Mosher is a world-record-holding action sport poly athlete, tech futurist and host of the Inside the Adventure podcast.
As the Founder and CEO of Vestigo, he’s bringing his passion for adventure into the digital world by building the future of virtual reality adventure by digitally recreating the world’s most inspiring and daunting adventure environments. His recent VR team programs include work for enterprises and businesses such as Microsoft and the CNN Emerging Product & Platform team.
Marshall has tapped into something with his business as he evaluates how tech teams are tapping the power of virtual reality to harness their fearlessness to innovate and work together.
M.R. Rangaswami: How are businesses using VR to develop and train teams?
Marshall Mosher: From hard skills training, to soft skills training, to re-creating office space in virtual reality, the possibilities and practicalities are quite limitless. Currently, corporate adoption of virtual reality is reserved for the most cutting edge and innovative companies, constantly looking for ways to leverage new tech for gains in efficiency and outcomes. But that won’t be the case forever. Just like the personal computer and the smart phone after that, virtual reality is the next generation pf personal computing that will revolutionize the way we connect as humans, both personally and professionally.
M.R.: How is VR used, in your experience, to help tech industry product teams innovate?
Marshall: Think of virtual reality as a teleportation machine. You and the 10 people in your department want to get together for an in-person relationship-building, trust-forging experience. But you’re all in 10 different cities across 3 different time zones. You don’t have the time or budget to travel so you pick up your Oculus Quest VR headset, throw it on, and suddenly, you’re standing face to face with the co-workers. The sound of the wind blows in your ear and the snow flurries fly across your face as you strangely start to feel a little cold.
The digital avatar in front of you waves and says hi in the familiar voice of your coworker as you glance around at your new environment. You and your team have been instantly teleported to Base Camp on Mt Everest where you’re about to hear the keynote of a famous World Record setting mountaineer before your team takes on the challenge of climbing Mt Everest yourself starting with the first step, crossing the terrifying crevasses of the Khumbu Icefall.
While VR is clearly a fake, digital environment, it still somehow tricks our brain into feeling like we’re actually there. When we interact with the digital avatars of our team, we actually feel together in person and when we walk across a rickety ladder spanning a 100ft deep crevasse at the base of Everest, we bond with our team in a ways we’d only get through actually scaling a mountain together!
Not to mention, most corporate legal teams much prefer the virtual version… By recreating these life changing opportunities, we can empower teams to embrace vulnerability, build a mindset of courage, and reframe obstacles as opportunities, allowing teams to practice overcoming fear and innovating from the unknown.
M.R.: How do you think VR will shape team development as people spend less and less time on-site together in the same physical spaces?
Marshall: Whether we like to admit it or not, relationships drive most of our decisions as humans, including how long we stay at a company. How do we create relationships and what are the factors that determine powerful relationships versus surface-level ones? Psychology tells us that shared experiences, especially vulnerability-inducing, challenge-based experiences are the secret sauce of true, genuine, human connection. Unfortunately, we’re hard-wired as humans to hate discomfort and challenge and we tend to avoid it at all cost, especially when there’s some level of physical risk involved.
Virtual Reality doesn’t change these fundamental components of human nature, but it does dramatically reduce the barrier of entry into impactful shared experiences, ones that truly move the needle for building team connection through perspective-changing, paradigm-shifting, team connecting experiences. Right out of a scene from Stephen Spielberg’s recent VR hit, Ready Player One, teams will have the ability to connect with one another in far more ways than a face on the other end of a zoom call, and those connections won’t be remembered as conversations. They’ll be remembered as life experiences: the kind of experiences that truly build real relationships. Real relationships create real trust and team trust produces real results.
M.R. Rangaswami is the Co-Founder of Sandhill.com