Embracing Complexity & Innovation through Chaordic Leadership 

PURPOSE: Explore chaordic leadership for embracing complexity and how to become educational leaders and HOSTS of a culture for adaptive change management to support holistic thinking, collaboration and strategic processes. 

Complexity and uncertainty are on the rise in education as we bridge many challenges such as financing; higher state control,  policy and assessment change; industry, social and environmental pressures; increased pressure on administration and the growing complexity and diversity of the challenges they face.


For change management to succeed, we must train and prepare a new breed of educational leaders, managers, program directors & administrators to understand complexity and navigate in uncertainty with the courage to let go of legacy processes & ways of working & thinking to explore and adapt new ways to Lead, host, facilitate & manage for system wide change in education.

The program delivers the 4 core disciplines for leading education into the future: adaptive LEADERSHIP; high performance TEAMS & CULTURE; decision making in COMPLEXITY & STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT for change.


An educational leadership program: this two-day course is only offered as a closed course for educational institutions, where the participants should include multiple faculties and their leadership, administration and program directors. Ideally it should take place outside of the institution or at a kaospilot school or international partner’s space.

In the past we have hosted this training at the Kaospilot HQ in Aarhus as part of a larger learning expedition week in Aarhus where we can suggest and offer contacts for other inspiring schools and educators for your group to visit but where all contact and scheduling is arranged by you, and then we plug in the 2 days  training based around the availability of the other schools and people you wish to visit.**



  • New ideas and perspectives both on educational and personal leadership
  • Methods & tools to increase team performance & collaboration for educational challenges & projects across departments & faculties.
  • Explore Leadership styles, roles and emotional intelligence as part of leading for Innovation and how to lead and stay in complexity?
  • Learn about Chaordic leadership and how to navigate your (future) role as a team host, team member, instigator & problem solver.
  • Turn complex challenges into visions & how to approach problems with new perspectives (work with real organisational challenges you bring)
  • Experience action-oriented collaboration as a way to create capacity, inspiration and alignment within the organization
  • Explore project leadership and how to support staff to deal with & reduce pressure through the art of prej.ecting
  • Appreciate the urgency and opportunity to grow your expertise, ambition and craft to meet future and more complex operations.
  • Prepare participants to design and create the space for collaborative teamwork to invite a new culture of cooperation andcommunication
  • Start a community of practice by creating a common reference, language, process, goals and methods to adapt and practice change
  • Intro to strategic back-casting to plan and set steps and tasks towards a desired vision or changed state, inc. resources & team, phases, milestones, ownership, communication, transparency, support & resources etc.



Exploring the following tools, methods and models through Kaospilot (TALKSHOP*) methodology

The course will aim to introduce the following concepts and their relevance to organizational development and to develop well-placed leaders who can take on more responsibility and complexity sooner rather than later through: creating team alliances; creating safe learning spaces; working with and designing innovation & creative processes; creating a feedback culture; collaboration; dynamic project leadership; listening levels; leading the space; asking powerful questions; learning as a skill; creating alignment, leading & following creative processes, staying in complexity, catch opportunities, shift / meta & holistic perspectives & problem solving.


The primary methods we will explore are: Dee hock’s chaordic model & situational leadership; solving complex tasks through innovation & project processes & prototyping; Drexler/Sibbet team performance model; Dave Snowden’s complexity thinking – Cynefin model & the leader’s framework for decision making; Daniel Goleman’s social competence & leadership styles in action; the 4 player leadership model – leadership & your actions; Future Navigator’s – the future strategy compass; Nick Jankel’s – switch methodology; Frédérik Laloux’ – teal organizations.


* TALKSHOP – Facilitated experience based workshop. All learning outcomes will be explored and ‘experienced by doing’ followed by reflection and supported by theory and dialogue. Using a problem solving approach creating a dynamic environment where the learning is rooted in reality and in the group through creative & knowledge disturbances. (Knowledge disturbances are short blocks of theory presentations that are delivered in a ‘just in time’ fashion to build on or anchor experiential learning.





Fostering a culture of cross faculty adaptability and ownership that blends chaos and order to advance cooperation for effective change management can support a new competitive advantage for a whole school collaboration & engagement for pedagogical, social and business development & growth.


Complexity and change are highly disruptive to educational ecosystems, but not detrimental if they are used to inspire a new learning edge for the entire school. This can promote dialogue and create opportunities for a more holistic, unified, appreciative, cooperative, creative, inclusive and team based culture for strategic change.




(Description of learners’ characteristic) You could be an academic leader or HR manager who wants to promote and create:


  • Proccesses and collaboration for solving complex tasks*
  • Change-oriented organization and culture with self-driven people that are passionate about their work.
  • Innovation & productivity: Innovation is about finding new ways to approach and confront challenges. How to harness the mindset of innovation across a company.
  • Diversity & culture: bringing together various levels and skills to inspire the transformation of your organizational culture and processes.
  • Action & learning: experience action-oriented collaboration as a way to create capacity, inspiration and alignment within the organization

A complex task: A task or challenge that is in a state of flux and unpredictability; No right answers; emergent instructive patterns; Unknown unknowns; Many competing ideas and solutions; A need for creative and innovative approaches to prototype and solve the problem

A complex system has the following characteristics: 
  •  It involves large numbers of interacting elements.eractions are nonlinear, and minor changes can produce disproportionately major consequences.
  • The system is dynamic, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and solutions can’t be imposed; rather, they arise from the circumstances. This is frequently referred to as emergence
  • The system has a history, and the past is integrated with the present; the elements evolve with one another and with the environment; and evolution is irreversible.
  • Though a complex system may, in retrospect, appear to be ordered and predictable, hindsight does not lead to foresight because the external conditions and systems constantly change.

The workshop needs people who are open to explore and experiment and be inspired by new processes, mindsets, people and perspectives in order to develop their role within their organization to become a better leader and collaborator through working and navigating within complexity and by adapting to change, innovation and experimentation.



As a European teacher or educational institution who is traveling to the KAOSPILOT for this program, you may be entitled to apply for Erasmus+, in particular E+ Grants. Please go to your national agency to get more info about this.


For three years I have come to the Kaospilots with a group of students and alumni from Steinbeis School of Management and Innovation in Berlin, and it is always a great and inspiring time for all participants. The educational concept is vast; our students learn so many new and innovative concepts for leadership and solving complex tasks so much so that I really can say the Kaospilot create new – and better – leaders. The Kaospilot are able to change the complete way to guide teams and teach how to create space for innovation and creativity in a company. We will definitely be back next year.

Raimund Bellinghausen– Program Director Steinbeis SMI


Participants generally found this program very engaging and fun, enjoying the way of teaching and delivery. It emphasized the importance of creating space for collaborative innovations through Creative thinking methods to encourage innovation, Idea generation and methods for implementing, where every team member takes an equally important role in contributing to its success.

Edmund Lee – Executive Director at Hong Kong Design Centre‬


The course was facilitated in a calm, confident and experiential space. The facilitator empowered all the team members and they in turn empowered each other. He showed a great knowledge and passion about the topics a very good variety of lecture and engagement. I left with the encouragement to try different things and understanding how I can break own barriers in myself and improve my team interaction.

IDK (Institute of Design Knowledge) empowering game changers participant (Hong Kong – design school)



We visited several institutes for higher education, we followed workshops and we saw examples of educational improvement. For me the visit to Kaospilot in Aarhus was the most inspiring. They offer a learning context where out of the box techniques are used to motivate students and to involve them into social issues. It was striking to see how engaged these students were. On the other hand it was confronting to notice the difference with the atmosphere in our own university. It showed us that we can get more out of students than we usually do. I think Kaospilot created a framework for us as a group, to think in a whole new way.

Christa Boer – PD – Cardiovascular Research Master VUmc (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)