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October 14, 2004

News & Opinion: Hardball - The Closing

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 7:30 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Although the winners I talk about in Hardball are very tough competitors, they play clean and fair. They never jeopardize their customers or make a move that might weaken their industry or that benefits them alone. And of course, they never do anything illegal. Playing hardball is about focusing on the really difficult heart-of-the-matter issues that are crucial to executing a hardball strategy. Its about creating discomfort for your rivals and being able to tolerate it yourself. To use a baseball analogy, playing business hardball is like throwing a 98-mile-an-hour fastball high and inside. Batters are rattled and uncertain what pitch is next. Its a tough, perfectly legal, and very effective move. But it takes a lot of skill and confidence to execute it well.
Playing hardball and going for the win may seem self-centered, but from my experience working with many of the worlds most successful companies, I know their leaders believe that playing hardball is good for the economy and society. Playing to win cleanses the market. It makes all companies stronger. It brings about innovations in products and services and often makes them more affordable. It creates more satisfied customers and it makes for happier employees.
In the coming years, companies are going to have to move more quickly, act smarter, and battle more fiercely than ever before. There will be the leading players and lots of niche players, but very few, if any, players in between. I believe the only way to stay on the field, win, and keep on winning is by playing hardball.
If you would like to get more information on the book, you can contact us at hardball.strategies at bcg.com.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.