Alf Rehn

Alf Rehn
Photography by Henry Harrison

Alf Rehn is a globally noted thought leader in innovation, trends, and creativity; a sought- after speaker, an author and a columnist, as well as a well-regarded commentator on leadership and organizational culture. He has held the Chair of Management and Organization at Åbo Akademi University in Finland, a professorship of innovation and entrepreneurship at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, and is currently a professor of innovation, design, and management at the University of Southern Denmark. His research has spanned numerous fields and has been published in top academic journals as well as in a series of bestselling books, challenging preconceived notions and provoking thought across the world. His newest book, Innovation for the Fatigued: How To Build a Culture of Deep Creativity, published by Kogan Page, is an antidote to fads and incrementalism – a much needed guide for any company that seeks to truly make new ideas take root.

»also known as an academic enfant terrible«

A well-regarded academic – but also known as an academic enfant terrible – Alf Rehn combines rigorous analysis with a creative and often surprising outlook on life, bringing topics like popular culture and philosophical theory into his analyses of modern business and the contemporary economy. Professor Rehn’s approach to management and business is highly creative and often turns notions we take for granted on their heads. Rather than presenting the same buzzword as everyone else, he challenges our thinking by means of provocation, juxtaposition, paradox, and humor. His audiences tend to thank him for both the laughs and the food for thought.

Alf has written 19 books, among which we find Dangerous Ideas: When Provocative Thinking Becomes Your Most Valuable Asset, a bestselling book on creativity for people who do not like books on creativity. Translated into eight languages (including Chinese, Russian, Spanish and Italian), it challenges the overly positive manner in which creativity is often presented and argues for a broader understanding of the phenomenon – including paying attention to shocking, childish and unseemly things. He has also published a guidebook to trendspotting, a book on power, several on play, games, and frivolity, as well as a book explaining the fundamentals of innovation. He is currently working on two books with the titles Designing Innovation Architectures and Contrarians – The Art and Science of Unconventional Thinking.

In his book The Paradoxes of Leadership (available in Finnish and Swedish) published in 2018 Alf tackles the contradictions that reside in the role of the leader – why there’s not one right way to lead and why this isn’t a problem. Here he discusses the challenging and contradictory demands placed on leaders, and how the best of them manage to deal with this paradox. His book, Innovation for the Fatigued (2019), focuses on innovation, the threats that face it and what we can do about it: How innovation fatigue afflicts organizations, why the innovation industry is complicit in this, what we can do to design innovation cultures, and why respect and inclusion are critical for innovation.

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Photography by Henry Harrison
Photography by Henry Harrison
Photography by Henry Harrison


»Your speech raised the exchange of opinions we hoped for and resonated well with the team of senior leaders. Your way of using powerful stories instead of slides was praised by them and it’s something they themselves want to pick up. Also, references to what you said about consistency and predictability of leadership were made in the discussion with our CEO the next day«

Anneli Karlstedt, Senior Project Manager, Nokia Corporation


»Alf Rehn’s keynote presentation moved many of our delegates, it was inspiring and thought-provoking and certainly a highlight for our event – The feedback from our delegates said the same – it was fantastic! Thank you to Alf Rehn for bringing creativity and innovative thinking to a successful event!«

Feyi Taiwo, Programme & Content Coordinator, The Superyacht Group 


»We very much enjoyed Alf’s exciting keynote speech, which evoke new ways of thinking and was definitely one of the highlights of this year‘s strategy meeting.

The workshops worked out very well, too. Alf managed to motivate all attendees to get involved and share their opinion and access to the topic.

We would like to thank Alf for his valuable contribution to a very successful meeting.«

Dr. Michael Tojner, Vorstand Montana Tech Components GmbH


»Many thanks indeed for your contribution to our conference. Your presentation made a considerable impact. It was very well received. The following days a lot of reference was made both to yours and Robs presentation, this probably was the most positive of all.«

Henrik Tirsgaard, Head of Geoscience Maersk Olie & Gas AS


»Thank you very much for participating in the speaking programme at the AFCP and ICMA “Expanding Horizons” Global Summit in Atlanta.  A few comments stating:

  •  ” Excellent. Really made me think and question.”
  •  “Quite an entertaining chap! Right on with biz using social media annoyingly.”
  •  “Very engaging, lots of energy.”

Once again, many thanks for your contribution.«

Shau Klomp Bueters, Operations Manager, International Classified Media Assoc. (ICMA)


Alf Rehn website






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