Monday, February 28, 2011

KaosPilots–A school for the unconventional

Ever wonder what school would be like with little to no tests? Introducing KaosPilots, an alternative business school in Denmark where they take an action oriented approach to education. Each student works on 15 projects that go toward their portfolio over the course of 3 years and these projects are for real clients with real money, real consequences and real budgets. Instead of tests, clients and team-leaders evaluate the students – for the KaosPilots learning is recognized by the hands on approach. And unlike most schools very few lectures are actually given by the staff; instead, industry professionals are invited to speak on their experience and knowledge. At KaosPilots lectures are not meant to be the primary source of education but rather are meant to supply theory to supplement students’ hands on learning.

So how it works:

KaosPilots is an extremely small school with only fifteen staff including administration and team leaders (they use team-leaders instead of teachers to guide students through their projects, some are past KaosPilots some are recruited from the outside). Because the school’s so small only 35-40 students are accepted every year (Yikes!! Can you say exclusive). The students are broken into teams where each team is headed by 1-2 team leaders.

The purpose of the school is to get students to think out of the box, KaosPilots graduate with an ability to approach many situations differently and enter into a variety of jobs. Ever hear of the two-step process? Step 1 - learn a little about a lot, Step 2 – start to specify. Well this is virtually what they have mastered!

Where as students studying in an engineering school will likely end up becoming engineers. KaosPilots have a variety of skills which allows them the plasticity needed to be successful across many different positions. KaosPilots is in my opinion, speaking to the life essence of entrepreneurs - To think out of the box,  to improvise, to approach every situation differently.

Why KaosPilots ? I’ll let my friend tell you.

There are 4 main academic disciplines: (taken from the website)

Creative Project Design
The massive rate of change that challenges most organizations today seems to be accelerating rather than being a momentary condition. This means that nearly every task we meet in our professional lives is new; different from what has been done before, and as such demands a new approach. Because of this tendency ‘project’ is increasingly chosen as the organizational model in business life and in society in general. The KaosPilots believe that in order to accommodate this culture we need to practice the way we approach our work, the way we think when dealing with projects. The students at the school are trained in dynamic project management, project economy, handling change, and designing projects and events.

Creative Process Design
In a society, which is increasingly based on knowledge industries, each organization’s value and raison d'etre depends strongly on it’s capability of utilizing knowledge generated by others, and understanding how to incorporate this knowledge with internal competencies to achieve concrete results. This is achieved through processes, internal and external, which enable the employees of a company to develop new and useful solutions. Therefore students at the KaosPilot school have to develop an academic understanding of the human processes that drive a project forwards – learning processes, creative processes, change processes, team building and how to work with these through process consultation.

Creative Business Design
The 21st century is the century of the entrepreneur and the creative social innovator. It is therefore vital that students are not only trained to be able to read the cultural, social, and economic trends in society, but also that they can use this knowledge to identify new promising and socially responsible business concepts. Based on these concepts new businesses can be designed, using the skills taught during the program, including entrepreneurship, business economy, social awareness and sustainability, arts and business, corporate identity and branding, and PR and marketing.

Creative Leadership Design
Leadership is ultimately a question of what kind of world we want to live in and figuring out how we go about making our dreams into reality. Societies in the new millennium are depending on empowered people – people who can stand alone, and stand together with others. The students do not just learn about leadership, they are trained in becoming leaders for themselves and others. Value-based leadership starts with personal leadership, with the self. The focus lies on developing a leadership style that allows the student to help others to become leaders in their own right.

The 3 worldly focuses are: (taken from the website)

And the question we have to ask ourselves in our work is: How can we develop the ability of the students to think and design sustainability in all dimensions of their work, ecological, economical and social?
Because if we as civilization, society, companies and individuals do not in an active and purposeful way pursue and contribute to the reestablishment of a sustainable balance in nature, the present global warming will make the planet inhabitable for our children, grandchildren and generations to come.
So the challenge for the KaosPilots is to create a new consciousness on the individual level (the student), in companies and in society, so that the future will be met with a clear and empathetic respect towards the well being of coming generations, other organisms and species, the planet as such and the new technology we bring into the world.

Cultural diversity
What we should work on is: How can we develop the student’s understanding of cultural diverse systems and societies? How to lead in cultural diversity? And how to create value of cultural diversity?

Because if we do not learn to live together in a peaceful way with many cultures underneath the same roof, the present cultural and religious front-lines will only become more and more fundamentalist and violent. This prediction is not least based on the fact that in particular the fundamentalist forces – both within the Muslim and Christian world –manage to set the agenda during these days, weeks and months. Thereby rendering moderate forces on all sides increasingly passive and invisible.

Until the day we realize that “feelings are facts” for most of us, we will not be able to –in a purposeful, bright and nuanced way –create a sustainable, respectful and thereby conflict resolving dialogue between the involved cultural and religious parties of a conflict situation. And it matters not whether it happens in your neighborhood, between nations or between global value systems.

Social innovation
And the question is: How can we develop the student’s creativity towards new ways of cooperating between the different sectors in society? And how can we develop a new sense of community and ”re-negotiate” the contract between individual and society.  Because if we cannot re-establish the interaction between on one side the increasing individualization of society and on the other side the necessity of a well-functioning community built on solidarity we loose the opportunity that exists right now to create the next generation of the Scandinavian welfare system.  Which would also imply a discussion of the relationship, the dynamics and the division of roles between the public, private and nonprofit sector.

The three focus areas Sustainability, Cultural diversity and Social innovation will be the lenses the KaosPilots see through in their daily work in the classroom, in the creation of projects and in the formation of new relationships with people, organizations and networks around the globe. They will determine the direction in which we are heading and they express our idea of how we can be the best education for the world!