“What’s best for MN?” It’s a question we’ve often heard while working with Chris over the years. The answer is more complicated than you might think.
Residential construction is a high-stakes business, especially in the Bay Area. Fraught with risk, it is one part artistry, another part business, and a third part magic. In other words, it’s a hell of a way to make a living. The only way to last forty years is to employ a crackerjack team with high integrity—top to bottom, through and through.
Asking what’s best for MN has solved a lot of problems for us over the years. Whether it was with an employee, client, or subcontractor, it cut through the distractions and helped us come to a resolution that was fair and reasonable for all.
On the surface, it would be easy to see this approach as selfish, even ruthless. In fact, it is exactly the opposite.
Sometimes it meant that we had to be a bit more generous with a client than our contract language required. Other times it meant that we had to make a difficult decision and let an employee go, most often someone who was not buying into the MN way of doing things. In the case of the client, we’d discuss and recognize that being hard-nosed about a detail that may cost us some money was a small price to pay to preserve the relationship and client satisfaction. It often ended up costing less than the associated time to fight the battle anyway. (To be clear, just the opposite has also occurred. We have had a few rare cases where we had to draw a hard line with an unreasonable client to protect our people and our interests—and we were glad to have the contract language that we do.)
Building is, at its core, a series of problems to solve, one after the other. Each project that we build, whether it is a cabinet project or a construction, residential or commercial, remodel or new build, presents its own unique series of problems for us to solve. Each of us has a role to play in solving these problems. We each have authority and responsibility for our part in the process, regardless of how small it may seem.
So when you’re faced with a problem that you feel you can’t solve on your own, bring in a few colleagues whose judgment you trust and explain it to them. Let them ask questions on the details, and then pull out the razor in the form of a simple but critical question: “What’s best for MN?”
You may be surprised by the answer.