Kaos theory

Based in the Netherlands, Kaospilots is an ‘entrepreneurial education programme’ for people trying to do something different in the social space.

The K-pilots are one of a handful of companies (eg, On Your Feet, Steps and Imprology) who are encouraging corporate innovation through shouty, noisy, touchy-feely or generally what you might call ‘active’ workshops, heavily influenced by theatre and improv techniques.

The thing is, I got chucked out of drama at school for being too ostentatious. Well, I presume that was what it was. Something along those lines anyway. Mr.Fagan, our drama teacher, really couldn’t stand the sight of me (I guess there was only room for one Violet Elizabeth Bott in that relationship).

As a way of easing childhood pain, and generally feeling a bit better about myself, I’ve written ‘drama’ under the ‘I got top marks for…’ section on my 2gether08 name badge. This also doubles as a kind of weak joke but, essentially, it’s because Mr.Fagan is no longer present and I feel I can get away with it.

Bizarrely enough, first person I meet on walking into the Kaospilots workshop is Lawrence O’Connor – someone who I haven’t seen properly for 20 years and certainly without doubt one of my school class-mates who actually DID get top marks for drama (leads in our school plays generally went to him when they weren’t being allocated to Cyril Nri).

To give a flavour of Kaospilots’ ‘different’ approach, we’re all asked to start the session off by ‘checking in’ with our own personal ‘mating call’ (name and company is so last century).

The best I can manage is a kind of camp, Leslie-Phillips style ‘Well, hellooow’. Lawrence comes up with something much more accomplished. Unfortunately, there were 40 people in the room so I’m unable to list everyone’s individual mating call, although I’m sure if I could it would do wonders for my eyeball rating.

The workshop takes place in the hot and sticky attic above the main theatre of this old re-styled school-house. The peaked roof is made of corrugated iron, which acts as an efficient solar panel while, for some reason, all but one of the tiny windows has been painted firmly shut.

The space is getting cooler as people leave, but it’s still not ideal the environment for overly physical workshops.

After a detailed talk by someone from Universal Music (I’m not really taking notes on this but he is emphasing his company’s willingness to listen to ‘small people with big ideas’), we are all gathered in the middle of the attic to perform a real-time example of the power law equation. Starting with just one brave soloist, within five minutes we have fifty people singing “I have seen the Muffin Man”.

The trouble with these kind of innovative/interactive sessions is that the activities themselves are so all-consuming that the important presentations in between kind of lose their traction. There is a kind of disconnect. It is easy to see this session as one of hyper-ventilation, veering from one activity to the other – fun in it’s own way – rather than actually learning anything concrete.

But then maybe that’s the point?