Between 2005 and 2009 the Kaospilots trained 30 leadership candidates from Norwegian auto retailer Bertel O. Steen. The programme introduced a Kaospilot mindset into a traditional management culture and prepared participants to embrace change and become drivers in their company’s efforts towards innovation.


Bertel O. Steen is a large family-owned company of more than 3,000 employees and a yearly turnover of more than €1 billion. The Kaospilot leadership programme brought a more personal approach to training and challenged the company’s habitual practices. As one of the participants remarked during the first session, which took place in a backyard in Aarhus: ‘This looks more like the Blitz than BI [an Oslo business school]’.


That’s just what programme organisers Stig Skjøstad and Tron Kværn were looking for. Not the Blitz, exactly, but a non-conventional approach that would challenge old habits and bring out a more human aspect of leadership in the organization. Human, yet still eager to perform. As Skjøstad puts it: ‘The Kaospilot programme was training a bunch of highly educated professionals. And by challenging them as human beings, by not allowing them to hide behind conventions, it helped them learn how to use their skills in a more inspired, conscious and efficient way. They learnt how to use what they already had.’


The programme also included practical work on innovation projects within the company. Assignments were set out by top management to give candidates an opportunity to work directly with Bertel O. Steen’s executive leadership.


Programme evaluations showed a significant development in the candidates personal leadership skills and a new readiness to embrace and inspire change. As one of the participants, Gisle Torheim said:


I’ve had the pleasure of participating in 10 sessions of the Kaospilot leadership development programme over a period of 18 months. By offering reflection on personal drive and strengths, while providing a better understanding of my leadership style and personal impact, the programme has helped me develop both as a person and as a leader – and indeed integrate the two. By substituting ‘classroom teaching’ for practical, real-life experience, it has proposed concrete, actionable applications of the lessons learnt and helped to create the desired change within myself and in my organization. Combined with invaluable one-on-one coaching, the programme has given me personal and professional growth, and has helped me become a more effective executive, team member and people leader.


Gisle Torheim, CFO, Bertel O. Steen Detalj AS