6 Chaospilots And Their Pursuit To Change The Construction Industry

November 8, 2020

Monday the 19th. of October, six ChaosPilots (KaosPiloterne) flew in and landed on the 2nd floor of Station. From day one they became a natural part of our community and brought positive energy and the concept of MOGA (Morning Gathering) with them. They are a crystal clear example of how students can interact and drive change in society for the better!

I have a presumption that not everyone knows exactly what a Kaospilot (Chaospilot) is, can you guys make us wiser on that subject?

It’s going to be hard to explain because I’m not quite sure we know the answer to that question ourselves, but I’ll give it a go!

Kaospilot is an international creative leadership education, based in Aarhus, working within the domains of process-, project-, and business design. It was founded by Uffe Elbæk back in 1991 and worked as a disruptive alternative to other educational institutions. To quote the school:

“The Kaospilots is a hybrid business and design school, a multi-sided education in leadership and entrepreneurship. The teaching programs are not designed simply to shape students to fit the future, but to help them create it.”

Every year a diverse group of students is handpicked from a tailor-made application process to form a team of 25 to 30 students to study together for three years. Every semester we work with new clients on “real” projects, which creates the foundation for our exams. The part where this education differs the most from other educations is the way we work with ourselves on a personal level. We’re not only focusing on developing new abilities and capabilities but also our character as individuals.

The Kaospilot school is striving not to be the best school in the world, but the best school for the world.
If you have more questions in terms of the school, just come by and say hi!

Three of the six students that have settled in Copenhagen for their project.
We see you all the time walking the corridors, serving coffee in the cafe, or bending your brains in your headquarter on the 2nd floor. Why are you here at Station, and what is your project about?

This semester we’re diving into systems thinking. To explain it in short, we are shifting our mindset from the classic “problem->solution” approach and are looking at the problems (read. challenges) from a holistic point of view. What are the root causes to the problems we see and how can we affect the different parts of the system to work together and come up with solutions that can create a systemic change.

In the next three months we are working closely together with KAB (www.kab-bolig.dk), and looking into the circular economy within the construction industry. With three workshops as the process, we will invite a diverse group of stakeholders from different parts of the system (value chain). The main goal is to share knowledge and build the needed capacity for them to create the change. It would be optimistic to say that we are going to change the construction industry within three months, but if we can plant the first seeds that are going to have an impact in the near future, I would say we are satisfied. We will maybe see our results come to life five to ten years from now.

The reason why we are working from Station is first and foremost because we wanted to be located close to our client and in an environment that enables us to interact with other students that we wouldn’t normally touch space with. The building has already shown its potential when it comes to knowledge sharing. Last week we found out that two other students were working on their master thesis within the exact same field as we’re working in. We got the chance to listen to their exam presentation and give them feedback. We got to test and validate our assumptions within the field, and they got a chance to test out their material on an objective audience.

Your challenge-holder operates in a quite conservative industry. What can you, as students, bring to the table that is unique and new?
The Cocoon, in here they create, develop and execute on their project

As you mention, the construction industry is known as being extremely conservative mainly operated by “old” men – just to describe the stereotype. As students coming from a school that is anything else then conservative and rigid, we see it as a match made in heaven! We are well aware that we are not experts within this field, but we are experts in facilitating processes and get people to communicate despite their differences. We think communication is key to a more sustainable future, and that’s where we are going to put our focus!

You are a team of 10 where six of you have settled here in Copenhagen for three months. Give us your three best tips on having to work together, apart from each other. I think everyone can benefit from this during corona.

Agree on a strategic direction everyone can align on. It’s important to make sure that everybody knows where we are going when we aren’t talking together every day.

Create an engaging organizational structure. We have two weekly meetings every week. One on Monday to update each other on the coming week, and one on Thursdays to evaluate and share. One note to this…. It takes time and is super important.

– Choose an online platform where everything is collected in order to create transparency. We are using Miro, which is a free online tool that allows us to keep a visual overview and facilitate each other through processes when we have to work together online.

One last question. Through your project, you try to drive change in a vital industry of society. Can you give us your best recommendations on getting started to do the same if you are an impact-driven student, like yourselves, who wants more than to sit in a lecture hall all day?

We don’t know the answer to that question more than anybody else. We just try out stuff and hopefully we fail and learn some interesting things from it. Maybe it seems a bit naive but we are learners and therefore we have to learn it, sometimes, the “hard way”. To end off on something, maybe, a bit more motivating we have found three helping quotes from previous lectures:

“Just start walking… Otherwise, you’ll never know where to go.”
“Talk does not cook rice.”
“Life is so much more rewarding if you strive for something, rather than take what’s given to you on a plate.”