Alf Rehn

Highly engaging Thinkers50 recognised thought leader and speaker who focuses on innovation and new wave creative business management. Professor of Innovation, Design and Management at the University of Southern Denmark.

Recognised thought leader thinker, Thinkers50 speaker and bestselling author. Alf Rehn is a highly influential professor at the University of Southern Denmark who is passionate about innovation, creativity, design and management. Having worked with a variety of Fortune 500 corporations as well as founding his own highly successful international advertising agency, he knows a thing or two about management and business innovation. With quick wit, unending passion and truly fascinating examples based on his own experiences, he's a highly engaging and entertaining speaker with international success.

Videos of Alf Rehn

The Hype Machine and the Golden Age of Innovation Porn
Alf Rehn on stage in 2015

Speaker Profile

About Alf Rehn

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Grab free copies of Trendspotting and Dangerous Ideas


Alf Rehn is a recognised global thought leader on innovation and creativity, Thinkers50 speaker and bestselling author. Alf has also been included in international media publications including Italian fashion magazines and Brazilian arts journals.

He is also a highly influential professor at the University of Southern Denmark and is passionate about innovation, creativity, design and management. Having worked with a variety of Fortune 500 corporations as well as founding his own highly successful international advertising agency, he understands and has experience of management and business innovation.


At the exceptionally young age of 31, Alf was made tenured Chair of Management and Organization at Åbo Akademi University in Finland, and ever since has focused on exploring and overcoming the challenges that global corporations face when it comes to innovation. More than just an academic, Alf has been involved in a wide variety of projects over the years, including heading up his own international advertising agency and sitting on the board of billion-dollar companies. He has also written bestselling books which explore the issues of creativity and trends and are loved by business-people and academics alike.

Having worked with a wide variety of business, from fresh-faced startups to well-established Fortune 500 corporations, his innovative thinking has been recognised in a number of circles all over the world and even earned him several awards. In 2013 he was rated number three among the top 20 Nordic business thinkers and number one among Nordic academics. He was also named as 'Top Professor on Twitter' in the Innovation category by LDRLB. 2015 also saw him shortlisted for the Thinkers50 Distinguished Award in Innovation.

As a speaker, Alf has also been widely celebrated and in 2010 was named Speaker of the Year in Finland. He has been the warm-up to the likes of Al Gore and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and headlined conferences with tens of thousands of visitors. He is known as a speaker who can engage with all, no matter how big or small his audience, and is regularly praised for his ability to connect with those whose day to day work doesn't even involve innovation in business. Having accomplished so much within such a short span of his career, Alf is seen as a true innovator and an inspiration.

If you'd like to hear one of Alf's inspiring presentations on innovation at your event, just drop us an email, give us a call, or request a call back.

Alf Rehn is a Professor of Management and Organization and one of the most influential and inspiring management thinkers in Europe. He currently shares his time between academia and business and is a thought leader in the arena of creativity and innovation. Well respected among his academic peers and the global business community, Alf represents the new wave of business minds and approaches key management topics in a way that provokes, challenges and offers effective, actionable methods of innovation and improvement for modern organisations.

Current / Past Roles & Positions

  • Included on the Thinkers50 Guru Radar management thinkers list in 2016
  • Rated No3 among the Top 20 Nordic Business Thinkers in 2013 (No1 among academics)
  • Shortlisted for the Thinkers50 Distinguished Award in Innovation 2015.
  • Ranked as a "Top Professor on Twitter" (in the Innovation category) by LDRLB.
  • Speaker of the Year in Finland 2010.


Alf speaks both English and Scandinavian.

Speaking Style

Entertaining and humorous, Alf's speeches have been described as 'business standup' and never fail to amuse. Despite this, he always manages to portray his true passion for innovation and creativity using his own extensive experience to bring his subject matter alive.

Speaking Topics

​​​​​​Creative Cultures: How They’re Created, and How They’re Destroyed

For a company to be successful, it needs to be able to harness creativity, innovate, and re-invent itself. The most critical aspect of this, however, is not specific “creatives”, but instead the creation of the right culture. Cultures where creativity is respected and supported, regardless from whom it comes, become better at adapting to changes in the environment, can benefit from a wider range of talents and competencies, and consistently out-innovate their competitors. In his keynote, professor Alf Rehn details what sets creative cultures apart and how companies can manage to destroy their own creativity by looking to the wrong things.

Saving Innovation: Innovating in an Age of Bullshit and Copycats

Innovation is a core corporate competency, but has also become an annoying buzzword, talk rather than action. In his provocative keynote, professor Alf Rehn challenges our taken for granted notions of innovation, and argues that we may be in the midst of an innovation crisis in society and in our companies. By discussing innovation fatigue, innovation stress, and why our current innovation ambition is far too modest, Alf encourages his audiences to think in new ways about innovation and what we can do to strengthen the same. Rather than just saying “innovation is important”, Alf shows how it has been lost and what we can do to save it.

Thinking Out of Bounds: The Power of Challenge, Critique and Extreme Creativity

You, yes you, are less creative than you think. So is each and every person working with and/or for you. Even though creativity has become the thing every person and every company professes to love, real creativity is as rare as ever. In his keynote, professor Alf Rehn clarifies why creativity doesn’t come naturally to us, what is required in order for true creativity to emerge and what can be achieved when we start to develop radical ideas. Instead of extolling cute ideas, Alf argues for extremes in thinking, why ideas should be dangerous, and why critique and difficult people are key to real creativity.

The Paradoxes of Leadership:

True leaders are masters of paradox, capable of being both hard and soft, action-oriented as well as measured and thoughtful. Rather than seeing leadership as one singular thing, defined through a recipe, we need to understand the paradoxical demands put on leaders. In his keynote, professor Alf Rehn discusses how to understand leadership paradoxically, why books on leadership can hinder more than they help and why consistency is more important than being nice. The keynote is directed both towards those wanting to improve their leadership, and those who wish to better understand their own leaders.

Taboo Futures: The Strategic Genius of Expecting the Worst

Despite its supposed avantgarde nature, much of trendspotting and futures thinking suffers from being bland and predictable. We tend to imagine futures that make sense to us, and that closely follow what we already have knowledge of. Further, we tend to prefer futures thinking in which we are still the key agent, something that can easily blind us to truly disruptive, disturbing events. In his keynote, professor Alf Rehn discusses the need to consider “taboo futures”, unthinkable events and shifts that challenge the very foundation of how we think about our business, and why these are an important strategic tool. Using hard-hitting cases, Alf highlights the need to think the unthinkable in strategy.

Other Keynote Topics:

Saving Innovation: Re-igniting the Ambition, Impact and Meaning of Innovative Endeavours
The Design and Decay of Creative Cultures
A Taste of Leadership: How to Run the Most Creative Organizations in the World
Dangerous Ideas and Taboo Futures: Finding and Seeing the Ideas That Scare and Challenge You


In addition to keynotes Alf sometimes does workshops and masterclasses on topics related to innovation, creative cultures, strategy and leadership.


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