One way to integrate faith and learning in the principles of management course is to tell short Bible stories or share short biblical wisdom sayings that illustrate some of the principles. This adds to the biblical literacy for students. For some students, understanding the issues that managers and organizations face can add interest to their reading of Scripture. Citing biblical narratives in class may spark a conversation about the biblical perspective on management that otherwise cannot be achieved.
“Overconfidence may be the mother of all biases.” (Bazerman & Moore, 2013, p. 14) Furthermore, very few people, if any, escape it. We tend to be too sure of our own abilities, judgments and the accuracy of our decisions. We have little interest in testing our assumptions. We discount or dismiss evidence that is contrary to our own opinions. We think we are better, smarter and more capable than we really are. We think we rank higher than others in certain dimensions of life. We act as if we are sure that we know the truth. Even Christians experience this with their own religious belief structure!
So pervasive and so insidious is overconfidence that people of all ages and experience levels believe that they don’t need to learn anything about it. We tend to disbelieve the research results on this problem. We tend to think that if we learn something about this topic, we haven’t learned anything useful.
When you present this topic in principles of management course, you may very likely encounter students who “zone out” simply because they assume that this topic doesn’t apply to themselves or that it is not practical! Some of the ways to counteract this is to include the following:
- Tell stories of real businesses whose managers were overconfident.
- Have students tell stories about other students who were overconfident. It is easier to see the splinter in someone else’s eye than to see the log that is in our own eye. (Matt 7:3-5)
- Tell a story of when you were overconfident. This shows that it is acceptable to face your own “issues.”
- Encourage students by letting them know that it is a human problem, not a sin problem and that it is acceptable to face this problem head on by first “owning it.”
- Tell stories from the Bible where one or more characters were overconfident. This provides a natural segue to discuss issues of faith.
Here are a few examples of Bible narratives that illustrate the problem of overconfidence described in Bazerman & Moore (2013):
Overconfidence In The Bible
- The people who built the tower of Babel. (Gen 11:1-9)
- The prodigal son asking for and then wasting his inheritance. (Luke 15:11-14)
- Lucifer’s belief that he could ascend to be equal with God. (Isa 14:13)
- Parable of the man who underestimated the amount of money it would take to construct a building. (Luke 14:28-30)
Bazerman, M. H. & Moore, D. A. (2013). Judgment in managerial decision making. (8th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
- Ask students to think of other examples from the Bible.
- Ask students to reflect on times in their own experience where they have either experienced overconfidence in themselves or in others. This might come in the form of writing on a small card anonymously. Have the cards handed in and then share these with the group. Anonymous sharing protects the ego of students but allows them to learn about themselves and others around them. [Generally, people find it easier to see these biases in other people but not in themselves. We tend to believe that while other people are subject to these biases, we probably are not. This is a function of the Overconfidence bias.]
- Where have you seen overconfidence in your parents? In a teacher? In a pastor?
- Is overconfidence a sin?
- What are the benefits of being overconfident?
- Isn’t it true that “ignorance is bliss?” In other words, does it really harm us to be blind to our own overconfidence?
- How might overconfidence undermine effective leadership?
- As we talk about overconfidence, do you find yourself saying, “I don’t see the relevance of this or the practical value of this for a manager?” What might that thought tell you about your own blindness to this problem of overconfidence?
- How might a leader counteract the tendency to be overconfident?
- If overconfidence is such a problem, why do we see so many leaders succeeding in spite of it?
- Why do we see overconfidence in other people but not in ourselves?
- How might overconfidence become a barrier to spiritual maturity?
- In what ways, if at all, might overconfidence limit the Christian’s expression of faith in the marketplace?