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Creativity can be a secret weapon for CPAs

Written on Aug 5, 2021

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager  

While some accountants might think creativity is something that only comes naturally, one expert on creativity said it’s a muscle that can be strengthened like any other skill.  

“As accountants, we're used to critical thinking because we are always analyzing things,” said Marsha Huber, CPA, director of research at Institute of Management Accountants. “But we're not really familiar with what we call creative problem solving. We do solve problems, but we're often in the box instead of outside the box.”  

Along with her accounting background, Huber has a master’s degree in creativity and change leadership from Buffalo State College. She said the accounting profession must be creative to find new solutions to problems, and CPAs might not even recognize their creativity because they have a narrow perspective on what that word means. 

“We're not talking about creative expression – art or poetry,” Huber said. “We're talking about bringing creativity and developing that skill to bring into the business environment to help clients think about alternatives they didn't think about before and to add value to our consulting.”  

Huber will discuss “Critical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving” at OSCPA’s October and November Ohio Virtual Accounting Shows. During her presentation she’ll discuss techniques to use to leverage creativity. One technique to help think outside of the norm is to encourage people to imagine themselves as a character in a story, she said; instead of only considering what they’ll do next, they’re thinking about how someone else might approach a situation differently. 

This might yield ideas that don’t make sense, but this is where the critical evaluation comes in: CPAs can use their analytical skills to eliminate unrealistic options.  

“If we don't have the creative ideas, our critical thought processes aren't going to get us anywhere,” she said. “I always call it a dance. It's a dance between divergent and convergent thinking, and you need both of them to move along a process.”  

Register for the Virtual Accounting Shows on October 26-27 or November 16-17 now.