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Thinking Critically and Creatively

My conversations with club managers over the past few years have highlighted the danger of doing business by the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

Maintaining the status quo has never been a way to manage a club or venue and recent events (the list is growing – Droughts, Covid - lockdowns, restrictions & labour shortages, floods etc) have highlighted the need to be adaptable and think outside the square. The recognition of this has been, or will be, the difference between some venues folding or surviving. For those who are part of the future, thinking critically and creatively is the key driver of competitive advantage.

When times are good, things are going well, your establishment is full of patrons, members and guests, it’s easy to think that keeping things exactly the way they are is the best course of action.

Whilst it may be obvious that building upon successes, continually improving and finding new avenues for wins and gains, is imperative, we are fighting our neurology.

Although every single day offers up brand-new possibilities, we unconsciously choose to live out the same routines. It’s not that we’re not creative enough to choose new experiences, it’s just that our brains don’t really want us to.

Our brains crave stability, familiarity, and comfort. If we even think about the possibility of doing something new or different, our brain’s initial response is fear. Uncertainty could mean risk — whether physical or psychological. That initial feeling of discomfort is often enough to make most people brush away their creative side and retreat right back into their comfort zone.

If we don’t consciously seek out new information and explore different options, then our minds will naturally cave into the brain’s desire for the familiar experience.

The alternative lies in the ability to think critically and creatively.

Critical thinking, in its simplest term, is the ability to think clearly and rationally. It is constantly asking yourself whether you view situations and events accurately and whether the conclusions you arrive at are logical. Creative thinking, on the other hand, is the ability to look at things differently. It involves finding new ways of solving problems.

In a club or venue, both critical thinking and creative thinking are vital. To be effective, both skills must work in tandem with problem-solving and decision-making. Thinking critically is essential in narrowing down the root causes of issues – to arrive at decisions that are based on careful and comprehensive analysis. Thinking creatively looks for other possibilities of addressing an issue by thinking outside conventional methods. It could be said that critical thinking narrows, and creative thinking expands.

Some purport that these skills should be restricted to and are the mandate of Senior Managers, CEOs and Boards. However, clubs and venues get leverage and benefit when everyone is encouraged to practice critical and creative thinking.

In assessing your critical and creative thinking skills (and those of your team mates), start by looking for the desirable traits these types of thinkers possess:

  • Curious and interested in learning more

  • Sees connections between two different pieces of information that point to a trend or observation

  • Open-minded listener eager to hear different perspectives

  • Self-reflective in examining their own biases or prejudices

  • Naturally creative in crafting solutions

  • Self-confident, as confidence is essential in thinking independently, presenting conclusions, making decisions and seeking innovative outcomes

The concepts of critical and creative thinking underpin the Club Managers Leadership and Management program. And there is a module dedicated to this topic. As well as learning techniques and developing skills in these areas, the practical activities throughout the program modules provide ways to directly apply knowledge into your club or venue.

For a listing of the program modules and more information go to


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