Markus F. Peschl

Professor of Cognitive Science

Title of the speech:

On illiteracies of the 21st century — skills and mindsets for future-driven innovation in an exponential economy

Facing an uncertain future, why do we sometimes feel so helpless and illiterate in such situations?

Normally, illiteracy is understood as the inability to read and/or write. Taking a broader perspective (e.g., UNESCO, OECD), this concept expands to the inability to use symbol systems, cultural systems, or even to lacking technological skills.

In this talk, I want to go one step further in showing that the illiteracies of the 21st century concern even more profound issues. Taking a closer look at innovation and change reveals at least three forms of illiteracy: (i) the inability to change our perspective, (ii) inability to deal with an uncertain future that unfolds in complexity and exponentiality, and (iii) the inability to “see” novelty even it is not here yet.

These forms of illiteracy can be identified both on the individual/cognitive and the collective/organizational level. They do not only concern skills, but attitudes and mindsets. I will show, how these forms of illiteracy can be overcome by applying an innovation strategy of “learning from the future as it emerges”. It is about leaving behind our patterns of perception and thinking, providing an empty (mental) space so that novelty can emerge, and about sensing potentials that “want” to break forth. Both theoretical aspects and practical cases as well as implications for future skills and mindsets will be discussed.

Title of workshop:

Innovating innovation: the future of developing your innovation eco-system

How do we want to innovate in the next 10 years? What does innovation mean in an exponential economy and how are we going to deal with an uncertain future?

In this workshop we will challenge classical approaches to innovation and develop a perspective that is based on the idea of innovation as “learning from the future, as it emerges”. We refer to this approach as Emergent Innovation. You are invited to collaboratively reflect on your own assumptions and processes of innovation.

After some theoretical input with practical examples we will work collaboratively on the following questions: How does the nature of work and workplace change over the next decade? What will be the relevant skills, mindsets, work environments, as well as eco-systems for a future- and innovation-driven organization? How can we bring about innovations that “make sense”, that have an impact, and that are sustainable?

You will jointly develop new perspectives on future-driven innovation for your organization with concrete steps for implementation.


Markus Peschl is Professor of Cognitive Science and Philosophy of Science at the University of Vienna. His research is driven by the question how novelty and innovation come into the world. He focuses on the interdisciplinary fields of innovation, knowledge, organizational change, cognition and the design of so-called “Enabling Spaces,” i.e. spaces for the generation of new knowledge and innovations. He is co-founder of The Living Core, where he serves as chief scientific officer; in this capacity, he brings leading-edge research directly to the clients and has many years of international experience in consulting projects. Markus Peschl has published more than 140 articles and six books. For further information see:



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