Summary: Let’s look this morning Abraham, Sarah’s, and Hagar’s mistakes in dealing with their problems.

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Genesis 16:1-16


According to management expert Peter Drucker, managers do not generally spend a great deal of time making decisions. Decision making is, however, the task that has the most far-reaching consequences. It’s imperative that managers recognize decision-making mistakes. Eight of the most common errors follow.

Mistake #1: Failure to Recognize a Problem

Managers usually operate on a frantic day-to-day basis without recognizing a problem that’s before their noses. They seem resigned that things are the way they are because of the “system,” and someone else must take action. When schedules present obstacles, or operations aren’t running according to plan, a manager should suspect that a problem exists. They should act to solve the problem. Frequently, managers don’t recognize the problem as their responsibility due to lack of experience, or that they recognize the problem carries with it the obligation to do something. Therefore, no recognition equates to no responsibility.

Mistake #2: Incorrect Problem Identification

Identifying the problem is the next step in effective decision making. This step is also the most difficult because the more obvious consequences from a problem are often mistaken for the actual problem. Managers usually pay most attention to obvious irritations. With their time pressures, they are less likely to dwell on what’s behind a problem. Other factors that keep from identifying the main problem include inaccurate perceptions and lack of experience. A decision that fails to deal with the real problem is, in effect, a bad decision because it will most likely produce an unsatisfactory solution. It will also result in further decisions having to be made to solve the problem.

Mistake #3: Insufficient Consideration of Alternatives

For any problem, there are usually a number of alternative solutions. Failure to think through the alternatives exposes a manager to the risk of overlooking the best decision. Therefore, it’s essential that a manager should generate ideas--think outside the box--and also consider possible repercussions from each alternative. Investigate beyond the obvious. Reasons for not thinking through alternatives range from the pressures of time to misperceptions. Decisions, when alternatives aren’t carefully considered, won’t be as effective as they should be and, more than likely, will result in someone else having to make another decision at a later time.

Mistake #4: Inadequate Evaluation of Risk

Every decision should be evaluated in terms of costs and benefits, or in terms of the risks involved and the results to be obtained. Failure to do so often produces high cost, complex solutions where the payoff is minimal. Managers can avoid some risk by seeking lower-risk solutions, reducing risk by training employees, or insuring against risk through insurance or hedging. If the decision maker evaluates risk systematically, there’s a good chance that the decision will be a good one.

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Jan Spencer

commented on Nov 29, 2006

Great illustrations and points for this sermon.

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