Frisbee and the Game of Life

by Chris Bjorklund

Because I am in the middle of planning a kitchen remodel and getting some foundation work done, I found these to be wise words from a Diamond Certified Guest Blogger, Michael McCutcheon, owner McCutcheon Construction, Inc.

I was thinking this morning about the language we use when we discuss negotiating with people. “I’ve got to play hard-ball” with this guy….

“Hard-ball” is a pretty good analogy for taking a tough negotiating stance. Hard-ball is very much a game of intimidation, particularly when the pitcher tries to “brush back” the hitter with one that’s “high and tight.” A pitcher will deliberately throw at a batter’s head in order to get them to “back off” the plate. If the batter is intimidated, he won’t “stand in.” He won’t be able to cover the entire plate with his bat. Once the pitcher has brushed him back, he’ll try one “low and outside.” Once the batter backs off, he’ll never be able to reach that pitch. “Strike three!!”

When I was in college we used to play Frisbee, which was the opposite of a game of intimidation. In fact, we had to cooperate to have fun. If the other player couldn’t catch and then return the throw, it ruined the whole rhythm of play. As players get better, you throw harder, but the goal is always to make the Frisbee catchable so they can return it to you—hopefully in your sweet spot so you can catch and return. ??In business, this kind of approach is called “win-win.” It’s the opposite of “hard-ball.”

As a businessperson, I see people play the game of life in either hard-ball or Frisbee style. I decided years ago that I would “play Frisbee,” meaning negotiate in good faith with clients to seek a “win-win” for both parties.

Every week we get calls from homeowners who refuse to tell us their budget. They figure that if they tell us what they want to spend we might increase our price and rip them off. They presume that our pricing is not based on our cost plus a reasonable markup, but rather on our evaluation of their ability to pay. Not true. In fact, bringing us in early on the budget conversation can save a lot of wasted effort.

My advice is to always work as a team. Think “Frisbee” rather than “hard-ball.” Home remodeling is too big a risk to make it an adversarial game. Spend time up-front interviewing and selecting your team members—including the designer and builder. Be watchful as the process unfolds, and replace any team members who aren’t meeting your expectations. Good teamwork makes your project go more smoothly and saves you time, money, and aggravation.