Article: The Innovation Imperative - Finding the Right Box(es)

Reprinted with permission. © 2013 Business Health

The Conference Board of Canada says innovation is one of the "great issues” affecting Canada today.1 Deloitte urges business to "invent and then reinvent" because "innovation provides opportunities, drives growth in new businesses, and refreshes mature firms before they are pre-empted by others." 2

Canadians can be innovative. In fact, as Deloitte sees it, "compared to OECD nations, Canada produces more than its fair share of fast growing firms under five years old."3 The problem thus lies in the inability of firms to sustain growth and refresh themselves through innovation.

For Rick Boersma4 the solution is not found by following the standard advice to "think out of the box," but instead to think inside the right box - or boxes. As he sees it, firms need structure, clarity and tools that will allow them to not simply react to changing circumstances, but to innovate, seek future solutions and lead their field. What's more, he doesn't believe that innovation comes from conventional practices followed by a select group: "Research shows that the use of structured innovative approach allows an average group to produce 500% more useful ideas than a so-called creative group using conventional brainstorming."

His structured approach involves five sets of tools - the I5 process - to be applied by average employees in five areas: Identification, Investigation, Ideation, Impact, and Implementation. He sees each area as a different box employees can step into to find structured methods that will help them generate a wide range of original ideas, based on clearly defined goals, processes and actions. Further, when Boersma talks about boxes, he means boxes. A talented artist, he has created a video where he draws boxes to showcase his ideas in motion. An innovator himself, he illustrates how businesses can address one of Canada's great issues and prepare for future success. See for yourself. 


  1. Conference Board of Canada Business Innovation Summit 2013: Innovation for the Corporation website. Retrieved from
  2. Deloitte. [2012] The future of productivity: Clear choices for a competitive Canada. Future of Canada series. Ontario: Deloitte & Touche LLP, p.4. Retrieved from
  3. Deloitte, p. 3.
  4. Rick Boersma, Innovation in a Box®. Retrieved from

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