Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Diff'rent Strokes

In case you're unfamiliar with the situation comedy, here's a plot summary: The misadventures of a rich Manhattan family who adopted the children of their late African American maid. (Thanks Imdb!). In addition, recall the saying: "Different strokes for different folks". Both are generally applicable in today's continuation of the trend started yesterday. I promise I'll move on to a different topic soon, but I feel that nearly everyone has gone through summer turmoil before, and I'm hoping some of our current struggles can be moderately helpful (or at least entertaining).

Let's start with the challenge. J-belle over at Miss Medicina *didn't* issue a challenge to me to explain my Top-Down approach to righting the ship that is our alliance. So, I'm *not* going to write about it. (In reading her article, you'll notice that perhaps I'm displaying a bit of beardishness here...)

So what's all this about taking the maid's kids? Well, that sort of describes my guild well. We're like a sitcom. We have a mish-mash of folks who probably have no reason belonging together. Half the time, the guild chat is in French. I don't speak French. Sometimes I'll reply in German, which I do speak. As you can guess, it can be chaotic. Additionally, J-belle writes from the perspective of a small, one game guild full of people who are geocentrally located.

Generations is a guild that exists across games and oceans. We have a sister guild on the EU servers that is actually more of the hardcore raiding time. If it's an MMO, someone on our forums plays it. Our guild existed before WoW. It's creepy to think about, but it's a great support network. We don't really recruit so much as people "fall into" us and find out that they can never leave (*evil cackle*). The point here is just that, we're probably the antithesis of J-belle's guild. At the focal point of these epic differences are J-belle and myself. If we met in a scissor fight, I'd probably cut off her wings on principle alone (Thanks Incubus). Then again, I am a warlock. The only wings I like are demonic.

The lesson to take from this part is that there is absolutely no way that J-belle and I could be friends if we didn't know how to communicate with one another. Sure, it's a disfunctional, nerd-rage embellished, referentially comedic, often misunderstood type of communication... but we speak the same language. Communication is the key to making any relationship last through adversity. No news here.

So what about this "Top Down" approach? Well, I'm a firm believer in leading by example. I would never ask someone to do something that I wouldn't first do myself. In-game, this means I think that any solution to a problem must first start with the officers. While J-belle would focus on the members, stepping back and collecting questionnaires, I'm swiftly revisiting policy and making sure we have the right people in the right leadership positions. Both are equally valid and neccessary approaches.

In a big guild, you can't really get everyone's opinion. Everyone may not even be on at the same time, and even if you could, there'd be so many differences that you'd end up muddling the issue more than one person could handle. In a big guild, you have to sometimes make those "executive decisions" and deal with the consequences later. It's my experience that most people crave leadership. They want to be led. They want to know what direction we're going and how we're going to get there in a nice, neat google map. Step by step, put it in your envelope and be done with it. It's this perspective that colors my approach different from that of a small guild.

The small guild can ask everyone, maybe even have everyone vote, and pat everyone on the back and call it a day. You get personal attention in a small guild. In the big guild, you have to make your own satisfaction. Some people don't want the attention. They just want to have options and be left alone to play their game. They want to be social some time, but not all the time. They want to have resources, but also fend for themselves. It's a tricky tightrope in it's own right.

Sometimes you have to just make the tough decisions. Sometimes a quick decision is better than an "over-discussed" decision. You can please some of the people all of the time, or all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time. In a big guild, you might lose some people, you might gain some people. It happens. It hurts, but it happens. We've always kept an "open-door" policy to try to steer clear of drama. Sometimes people come for a while, and then want to go do the hardcore raiding thing for a while, or some friends just started a guild, or whatever. That's fine, we'll be here if it fails, and we'll still run with you if it succeeds. We're like a rock (Thanks Bob Seger).

In this environment, a group is only going to be as good as their leader. You need leaders that are engaged and available. You need to be able to hear criticism and make the right decision, even if it earns you flak. You must lead by example. If you act like an asshat, you're gonna have 150 other asshats following you. However, if you try to be a class act, you're going to have more members striving to be a class act too. People look up to leaders, whether or not it's warranted. If your members are all whining and bitching, then you probably are too (and in J-belle's case, that might be your "thing", which is okay. Sometimes that works for people. Persistance and stubbornness are just spelled differently).

So yes, my approach is different. However, at the end of the day, we both have the same goal: to nuture our relationships with the people we care about, and succeed at the challenges set before us. As long as we can communicate with each other, then we can work together towards these goals, even if we're coming from completely different ends of the spectrum. In a way, that's better for the alliance as a whole, since we can cater to all types of players. If you want what J-belle is selling, she's got you covered. She does a great job of representing her guildies. If you're liking what I'm laying down, we have room for that too.

Having two officers with completely opposing viewpoints can be a great asset as long as they know how to communicate and respect each other. If you're mature about it, you can really do some awesome things, not only in-game, but out in the world as well. Too often we see people who believe in different things and we reject them. We think: there's no damn way I could ever be friends with that person. Relationships are funny like that though. Sometimes they don't give a shit what you think. Sometimes a little tolerance can go a long way towards an understanding. Sometimes you can agree to disagree and still enjoy one another's company immensely.

And sometimes, you just may learn something in the process.


  1. I have to say, with all the arguments we've had lately, it wasn't until Khay made a point about the differences in our guilds that it started to all make sense to me.

    What works for the Beardies would never effectively or efficiently work for your guild. What works for your guild would get me skinned alive in mine. Also, there would be no one to take care of my dog when I'm out of town.

    I think maybe what we should work on together is trying to figure out how to merge our two separate approaches. Not even a compromise per se - but I think that by combining "fix it with leadership" and "get back to your roots" we can address a lot of the problems that arise within our Alliance. I think it would work, because we've got both types of guilds, and we've got people who will respond to one type or direction or another.

    So maybe instead of trying to convince one another, we just need to sit down and figure out how to make both of our strategies work together at the same time.

    As I was reading your post, I found myself finally beginning to understand your approach. Maybe because now I can see more of where it comes from. Yesterday you "grudgingly admitted" that some of my strategies just might work. Well, I will "grudgingly admit" the same to you.

    It's not just personality differences for us - we're both control freaks. It's the fact that we're representing completely different communities.

  2. Word. And that's what I was trying to get at in a generally applicable way. Hopefully this sort of realization won't only be useful to us. It seems so "well duh" on the other side, but then again, most things do.

  3. And you both wonder why your better halves just shut our mouths :D

    Where's Darf, him & I will discuss our tanking differences.

  4. Pfft. Darf doesn't read. DUH. There are too many things waiting to die to get distracted by this literacy thing.

    Quick unrelated question for you Ful - I think you mentioned having once used LJ on a regular basis. You know how you could put "cuts" into your post, so that it was shorter on the main page? Do you know of anyway to do that through Blogger? I'm actually a little embarassed by how long some of my posts tend to be...

  5. I actually use/d Xanga. Similar concept but not actually LJ. I know what you're talking about though.

    It's actually rather difficult in blogger, but there's a good topic on the Blog Azeroth forums about it. I can't link you to it directly 'cuz you need an account and all, but I'll shoot you an email or something with more info.

  6. Using breaks is fine on the main page, but just make sure they dont end up in the RSS feed. It makes life very difficult for those of us that are blocked at work. Thanks.

  7. Ha, I won't. I enjoy impressive looking feats of text. That and I'm just too lazy.