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How to make your next brainstorming session a success

Written on Aug 19, 2021

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager 

Accountants can lead great brainstorming sessions that produce innovative solutions by learning how to explore their creative side, one CPA says. 

“There's always the saying that creative accounting isn't good, which could be true, but a lot of clients want creative solutions, or they want to brainstorm things with CPAs,” said Masha Huber, director of research at the Institute of Management Accountants. “And CPAs really don't know how to do that very well.” 

Huber will present “Critical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving” at OSCPA’s October and November Ohio Virtual Accounting Shows. She said professionals oftentimes have trouble thinking of new ideas and think brainstorming exercises are a waste of time. 

“People can think they didn't really come up with anything new or were all over the place,” she said. “And in the workshop, we teach techniques that guide that process. And something actually useful comes out of that.” 

When a company has ongoing problems and continues to solve them the same way, Huber said the results rarely change. Although it might sound obvious, professionals need to get outside of their comfort zones to come up with new solutions. 

Huber encourages divergent thinking to help explore new ideas, even if the ideas might seem ridiculous at first. She said the edification process will come later, and is crucial, but first it’s valuable to step outside of your typical perspective to think of a new approach. 

“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.” 

Companies who ignore exploring creative solutions risk losing their competitive edge long term, she said, simply because the business environment requires change and evolution. Creativity is also a muscle that can be strengthened the more it's used. 

“A lot of times, we lay low, and we have these problems, and we get stuck,” she said. “The thing about this creative problem solving, and this critical thinking is you can use it at your job, or you can use it personally and it’s something that can be improved. If you want to remain competitive you need to develop additional skill sets.” 

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