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Smart Leaders 2.0: Thinking & Innovation Skills  

Monday, November 28 - Thursday, December 1, 2016

Program Brochure

The colossal, sometimes catastrophic, errors in business judgment of the past few years are stark testimony to an over-reliance on antiquated and unproductive problem-solving techniques. While most executives say innovation is now at the top of their agenda, only 6% feel confident in their ability to actually achieve it. Whether you seek to run your business better, build it through revenue growth or transform it entirely, an in-depth understanding of the innovation process (from origin to execution), its essential ingredients and the skills required to nurture new business concepts to fruition are critical to your success.

Program Description (+)

Thinking more effectively is the key to success in everything you do, whether discovering hidden possibilities, conceiving breakthrough ideas, solving complicated problems or making better decisions. Creative thinking is neither a gift nor a consequence of magical inspiration; it is a learnable skill. Unfortunately, it is a skill you were never really taught in school.

The purpose of this unique leadership program is to give you the formula and the tools for changing the way you think (and maybe also the organization you lead). Extraordinary people are just ordinary people who know how to think differently. Without this skill set, you cannot navigate the obstacles that impede your progress towards personal happiness, success and freedom.

In the last IBM Global CEO Survey, well over 90% of 1,600 corporate leaders cited creativity as the #1 leadership competency today. A recent study of over 200 world leaders claims their success is primarily dependent upon “thinking differently.” Simply put, analytical thinking – the search for one right answer – is no longer up to the demands of our increasingly complex, unpredictable, viciously volatile world.

We live and work in an age that demands ultra-smart leaders – those who “make things happen” when needed, rather than hoping they will just happen serendipitously. Those who possess the know-how that enables their organizations to seize immense but unforseen opportunities. Those who are mindfully “plugged into” the idea spaces of our uncertain times. These are nimble, savvy, authentic leaders – able to capitalize on emerging micro-trends, reconcile contradictions, distil information overload and then design a future of choice.

Accountants, in particular, prefer to rely on the biased lens of analytical thought to peer into the future. Unfortunately, this thinking style is incapable of accomplishing that task. Imagination, insight and intuition, the mind’s faculty for using acquired wisdom, is what enables us to “see” disguised opportunities, look around corners and conceive novel solutions. Complex systems, like markets and corporate cultures, are impervious to logical, deductive thought. Situations in which conventional rules and out-dated practices supply the answers are an endangered species.

[Warning: This program may change your life. Minimally, you will discover that it contradicts everything you’ve likely ever been taught about how to acquire information, reconcile paradoxes, solve problems and make better choices. We all have the potential to think more creatively. But, to do so, we must first rid ourselves of the unproductive mental traps and blind spots that prevent us from achieving our full potential.]

Who Should Attend (+)

This program is aimed primarily at those in positions of executive responsibility. Its premise is that, no matter what your starting point, you can always get better. And the most significant competitive advantage you will ever possess is the ability to think on all cylinders. Your destiny lies not in what you know, but rather in what you do with what you know. How you think determines who you are and what you can become. And know this – what you will be responsible for tomorrow will be very different from what you are doing today.

Curriculum (+)

The program begins Monday afternoon at 1:30 pm sharp and will include an evening session. Subsequent daily sessions (Tuesday and Wednesday) will run from 8:30 - 6:00pm, except on the final day (Thursday), which will conclude at 3:00 pm. Evening activities include team assignments and readings as well as opportunities for networking and attitude adjustment.

Like all of Jim’s courses, the format is highly practical, reflective of the latest research and interactive. This program features a competitive team assignment with the objective of taking a new business idea from conception through acceptance to feasible implementation. You will receive a pre-course workbook in advance of the program containing preparatory readings and will be expected to complete certain tasks prior to your arrival.

The following is an outline of the session topics to be covered in the program:

  • The Mind and True Genius of a Smart Leader

The critical leadership challenge and competency today. What is a "smart leader" and why do we need them? Why smart people do dumb things. Forces that will shape your future: The law of accelerating returns. Minds of the future. Becoming a synthesizer. The creativity formula. Linear vs. lateral thinking. The Smart Leader thesis. Recipes for becoming one. What is genius?

  • A Framework for Innovation: From Origin to Execution

The uncomfortable truths. What is innovation? The keys, the basics, and the process. Finding real problems. Why ideas fail. Gaining acceptance: The art of the pitch. Invention and ideation: Getting started (forced relationships and morphology). Creating and selling your new business concept.

  • Thinking Styles: As We Think So Can We Become

What is thinking? How we were taught to think (and how we will learn in the future). Different ways on thinking and solving problems. The truths about analytical thinkers. From analysis to delusion. When to use analytical thinking. Head vs. gut: Understanding our internal conflict. How we became so analytical in our thinking orientation. Social conditioning. School problems vs. real-life problems.

  • Cognitive Tendencies that Lead to Really Bad Decisions

"Diseases" of the mind: Thinking traps and blind spots. Why we (all) engage in delusional thinking. The mother of all biases. Leadership ascendency: Where are you? Motivated reasoning. The fallacy of certainty. Faulty memory. Confirmation bias. How to counter: Antidotes to flawed thinking. Attributes of transformative thinkers. Defining the "box" and overcoming its limitations.

  • Neurology: Imagination, Intelligence, Intuition and Insight

Understanding the hardware: How much thinking do we actually do. Brain physiology and Function. Neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. The brain at middle age. Why we rarely think: Cognitive autopilot. Seeing vs. perceiving. The creativity paradox. Intelligence: Analytical, practical, creative, emotional, social and strategic. Multiple intelligences and self-perception. How smart are you (really)? Developing your own intuitive aptitude and insight. The power of creative dreaming.

  • Barriers and Constraints to Enhancing Creativity and Innovation

Organizational conditioning: We are what we repeatedly do. Rethinking your small-cage habits. Dealing with the paralysis of fear. Understanding risk and enhancing risk intelligence. Addressing the notion that "it can't be done!" The relentless pursuit and value of information. Where research fits in to the creative process. The two sides of judgement. Problem definition and the antidote to complexity.

  • Fostering Workplace Innovation: Practical Realities and Critical Necessities

First principles for managing innovation. The primary objectives. Rooting out dogma. Overcoming "groupthink". Building the culture. Auditing organizational DNA. Types of innovation. Managing the paradoxes: Efficiency vs. creativity. Making your organization "smarter": Essential principles, rules and tactics. How to evaluate and sell your ideas internally. Intelligent failure. The easiest, simplest and fastest way to get there.

  • Group and Individual Thinking Tools, Techniques and Methods

Attention management: Shifting frames of references. Attribute listing. Brainstorming: Flaws and fixes. Nominal grouping technique. Synectics. Bio-heuristics. Six thinking hats. Mass collaboration and idea sharing groups. Smart listening, reflection and journal writing. Reverse PoV. CoRT thinking tools. Future forecasting. Brain mapping and strategy maps. Optimal time and place. Meditation.

  • Competing for the Future: Winning Over Demanding, Savvy Customers

Discovering, defining, and developing and delivering a new business concept, product or service: Where (and how) "the rubber hits the road". Assessing winner presentations and lessons learned.

  • Unleashing the Creative Genius Within: Personal Transformation

Nourishing a healthy brain. The power of sleep and levels of consciousness. How long will you live and will your brain keep up? Mental fitness: Building your cognitive reserve. Investment planning: Personal and professional development. Perfecting your recipe. Genius: Answering the defining questions. Rules for transformation: Finding your authentic self. Continuing the dialogue.

Dates and Times (+)

Monday, November 28 – Thursday, December 1, 2016
The program begins at 1:30 p.m. on Monday and concludes at 3 p.m. on Thursday.

Registration and Fees (+)

 All-inclusive (program fees, meals and accommodations) - RecommendedDay package (program fees and meals only, accommodations not included)*
Members and CPAs **$3,550 (register here)$3,050 (register here)
Non-Members$4,050 (register here)$3,550 (register here)

An early-bird discount of $200 is available for registering 60 days in advance of the program start. 

This program is limited to 20 participants in order to maximize your learning and networking opportunities. You are advised to register early to secure your spot in this exclusive program.

*Please note: A limited number of program spots are available to those who do not wish to have accommodations. As there may be evening activities (group work and/or networking opportunities), this option is recommended only for those who reside nearby.

**Out of province CPAs should contact for registration information.

Facilities (+)

Smart Leaders 2.0: Thinking & Innovation Skills will be held at the White Oaks Conference Resort & Spa, a premium, four diamond, five-star resort that has achieved a reputation for outstanding comfort, service and atmosphere to ensure a memorable learning and retreat experience for all executives who attend.

Program fees include meals, accommodations*, wi-fi access, use of basic fitness facilities, and a hospitality room for evening networking opportunities.

*Excluding registrants who have opted for the non-accommodation option.

Getting There:

From Pearson or Buffalo airports:

The Niagara Airbus offers Shuttle Transfers to and from Toronto’s Pearson and Buffalo Niagara’s International Airports and can drop you off right at the facility front doors. The Niagara Airbus website is

Another option is the Falls Livery & Taxi. They can offer private cars for transport to and from the airport as well. They can be reached at 905-356-4500.

From Toronto:

Average time to drive from Toronto to the Resort is an hour and a half*. Click here for a Google Map and directions.

*Please note that these directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, weather, or other events may cause conditions to differ from the map results, and you should plan your route accordingly.

CPD  Information (+)

Subject to CPA Ontario regulations, members may count up to 29 hours of verifiable CPD for the completion of the Smart Leaders 2.0 program.

Testimonials (+)

Our alumni include participants from the following organizations:

Trudell Medical Marketing Limited, Grant Thornton LLP, Adidas Group, Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, Canadian Executive Services Organization, Princeton Holdings Limited, Export Development Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada, Science North, Swarovski Canada Limited, City of London, Dare Food Limited, and many more.

Here is what some had to say about the Smart Leaders program:

  • It forced me to consider and better understand who I am and where I have weaknesses in my thinking ability. I feel far more confident in trying new techniques with my staff/company to generate creative solutions to resolve a number of current problems.
  • It provided me with a framework to approach tough problems and the tools to work on same that will enhance my productivity and effectiveness. It also renewed my desire to invest in continuous learning.
  • I obtained a lot of tools to instil a culture of innovation within the organizations I lead. I gained insights into my blind spots, biases and in-the-box thinking – a humbling experience. One recurring thing for me is take the time to focus on what is truly important.
  • “[The program] forced me to stop and think – think about thinking; think about what I want, where I want to be and how I am going to get there (professionally or personally); about what I will do when I do get there and even think about what I will do if I don’t get there.
  • I feel energized and invigorated and ready to try a few new ideas. I now recognize the importance of pushing one’s self to achieve new heights.
  • It challenged my belief in myself. You get to think over time that your direction and way of working is “the way forward.” This course makes you reflect on inner confidence, then provides a way to re-direct that confidence in a more constructive and productive manner.
  • The pre-course work was almost as valuable as the course itself because it forced me to answer some very important questions about my work and family life issues.
  • It opened my mind to new ideas and approaches to use with people in my work. I am now more aware of the flaws in my thinking and can better see the issues that hold me back both personally and professionally. I now see new opportunities before me where previously I only saw closed doors.
  • The extreme value I derived from this course goes beyond leadership – it will affect how I observe, listen, analyze and react with my peers. I came to learn how to “think differently.” Not only was that objective fully satisfied but it went beyond by showing me how to see different colours and shapes in the box. Highly enjoyable. (The only way to improve this course is to make it longer.)
  • [The program] opened my eyes to some preconditioned behaviours I need to address that have affected my decision making and how I view the world. It has also confirmed some things I suspected about myself which are positive and that I can build upon.
  • I better understand how much potential I have just by better using my brain. I especially enjoyed your holistic approach (including health, sleep and nutrition). I also now better understand why people think so differently and I have a rich resource to draw from.
  • I am/was a captive of my analytical approach to solving problems. I rarely sought out the questions that would change that frame. While also humbling, this course has made me a better leader simply because my ability to ask questions and actually listen has forever changed.
  • You’ve given me the tools to solve problems, help others solve their problems, a process for introducing innovation to our centre, ideas about how to solve my personal issues and a list of great reference materials. Great course – I enjoyed every minute of it.

Faculty (+)

Dr. Jim Murray is CEO of optimal solutions international, a firm dedicated to helping people and organizations reach their full potential. Described by clients as “a rare breed” and “an organizational therapist”, and by students as “a man of brilliance,” he has been teaching creative problem solving and innovation skills for over 40 years. He has led enterprises in both the public and private sectors and provided his strategic counsel to over 600 organizations. Jim has been nationally honoured by the Canadian Association of University Continuing Education for his career in adult education and formally recognized by the University of Alberta for “excellence in the design and delivery of lifelong learning.

Thousands of attendee testimonials confirm his ability to “connect” with the professional development needs of accountants today. His life’s quest is to liberate personal and organizational genius and to change lives. (For more information:

Contact Us

For more information please contact Lawrence Wong, CPA, CA, at the CPA Ontario, at: 1-800-387-0735 ext. 4343, or at