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Alan Iny, Class of 1989

An integral part of an education at Akiva School is teaching our students how to think creatively, problem-solve and be innovators.   With his book and current consultant role, Akiva alumnus Alan Iny represents what we hope to inspire in every Akiva student – the motivation to think differently, unconventionally, or “off the beaten path”.  We caught up with Alan recently to talk about his life after Akiva School and his book “Thinking in New Boxes: A New Paradigm for Business Creativity.               

Where did you go to school after Akiva School?

I went to Herzliah High School in St-Laurent and Marianopolis for CEGEP. I then went to McGill to receive a BSc in Mathematics/Management and Columbia Business School for my MBA.

What are you doing now in New York City?

I am the Global Creativity Expert for The Boston Consulting Group and co-author of Thinking in New Boxes: A New Paradigm for Business Creativity (Random House, 2013. What all that means is that I work on hundreds of projects each year around the world (last year I was in 20 countries), helping companies bring more creativity to what they do.  New product ideas, new ways of doing things, thinking about 2030, and more.

Can you tell us a little about your new book?     

My book is currently available in 12 languages, including English, French and Hebrew and basically challenges people to reflect on their current way of thinking and use this as a springboard for different thinking.  A lot of people have been in brainstorms that did not get them where they wanted to go – that is because just telling people to “think outside the box” as we’ve been doing for decades isn’t good enough.  We all think using “boxes” or mental models – like when we say “Canadians are nice” or “the rainbow has seven colors” these are useful oversimplifications.  It’s the same when we say “this is how we do things” or “this is who our customers are”.  And so, the best thing we can do to really be creative is to understand what our existing boxes are, and which ones of them might be ready for a change.

What are some of your favourite memories of your time at Akiva School?

I was a member of the first class to graduate in Westmount after the school moved from TMR.  Much of my Akiva experience as a student was in TMR, but after Grade 5, I remember being part of a huge group of people that helped pack things up and then unpack in our new space.  Grade 6 was then really special – it was also Cooki’s first year as Principal.  But with all of those changes, the focus on each individual and what it felt like to be at Akiva never changed.  Even later, that remained true and I maintained a connection with the school. I returned some years later as choir director and even covered for the music teacher when she took a sabbatical.  And now my nieces are at Akiva and I love dropping by to visit when I am in town.