The success of an idea

I recently had someone from WoM link to a post of mine about Eff the Ineffable being officerless. While the discussion in that post went in other directions – how to prevent having officers who do nothing – I found myself caught by the poster saying that they didn’t agree with the idea of a guild without officers.

I wouldn’t expect that a guild like ours would be right for everyone or for every guild charter. In many cases, it would be exactly the wrong way to go. But I don’t think that means the idea as a whole can or should be discounted. I’ve heard of several guilds out there who don’t have officers and it works for them – Rades‘ being the primary one I can think of – and, you know, I think it’s working for us as well.

Measuring Success

Nevertheless, it got me thinking about success – the success of an idea – and how it is measured. I think the default opinion of whether or not something is a success is whether or not a lot of people get on board with it and say that they think it’s a good idea. Viewed in that light, we Effers are not a success because there have been plenty of detractors who have cautioned about potential pitfalls and who have strongly implied that we’re a little bit nuts for doing what we’re doing.

And that’s okay. I, for one, don’t take any of it too seriously. After all, when I look at Eff the Ineffable in the light of what I wanted it to be, we are wildly successful. And I feel that as we get to know each other even better – and stop apologizing so much for speaking our minds or giving each other constructive criticism – that we can only go up from here.

I would also offer an alternative viewpoint for whether or not we are successful as a guild, and that is from whether or not we are getting what we wanted out of the way things are organized. In the end, that’s the only viewpoint that matters.

A casual environment versus adults being adults

At our heart, we are a raiding guild comprised of adults with real life responsibilities that take precedence over the game. No one is going to abandon their school work or their families to raid and that’s something we can all understand and respect about each other. Because this limits the time we can have in game, we have to make the most of it.

In a more casual raiding environment, I found that the “Rules” were more often taken as “Suggestions.” You might want to show up on time. You might need to sign up if you want to have a spot. You might consider looking at some strats or videos or something – but if you don’t, someone will tell you what you need to know so no worries, mate.

Also, in a more casual setting, it was a seriously tricky business to try to suggest to someone that they might need some improvement. Almost without exception, suggestions were met with a defense about “we’re not hardcore so you can’t expect me to read up on my class” or “the reason I don’t perform well is because I need gear.”

There hasn’t been any of that in Eff the Ineffable. Everyone here knows what EJ is and will read it. Everyone here knows how to find strats for boss fights and will take the time out to watch a video. We’re all running heroics like mad people, trying to improve our gear and performance. Zel recently started a tradition of post-raid self evaluations, where we all head to the forums and talk about things we could do better and solicit ideas on how to accomplish some of those things.

And perhaps that doesn’t sound like a lot to people who are in progression raiding guilds. But I think the fact that people are doing this without having an officer standing behind them to check and make sure they are is pretty cool. We don’t need babysitters. And as GM, I don’t have to babysit anything.

People are responsive, too. I spoke a short while ago about how the guild bank was making me a little nuts (hell if I can find the post though, so you’ll just have to take my word for it). Shortly thereafter, I organized it all and then headed to the forums where I told everyone how I would like to see the bank used. No problems since, except that everyone is so determined to beĀ independentĀ that I had to beat people around the head and shoulders a bit to get them to actually use the flasks and potions and flowers put in there for raiding purposes.

Can you hear me now?

I think the key to most good relationships is communication. And with so many people active outside of the game in talking to each other – whether it’s through our forums, Twitter, FaceBook, blogging, Google chat, texting or sending emails – we certainly have that bit down.

So agree with the idea or not, it is working for us and going splendidly.


The success of an idea — 6 Comments

  1. As someone standing on the outside looking in, I can understand that their might be concerns about the viability, but it depends entirely on the group of people you pull together.

    Although it’s a new guild, y’all seem to have all the ducks flocking in the same direction, and honestly, that’s all anyone can expect and hope for when participating in and leading a guild environment. Kudos to the Eff team for being self-motivated and self-correcting. Officers are just there to make the final decisions, but if they can get made with group consensus just as well — who cares that there’s not an ultimate person at the top who’s responsible?

  2. Agreed. Communication is the key to any guild structure. I am glad it is working for you. Our officer structure is very loose but we all communicate the same messaga about how the guild views itself. It is nice when any new person comes in and a non officer takes them in and explains what we are about.

  3. Something that just occurred to me while reading your post is that perhaps officerless is actually a misleading term. In a guild like yours, and mine, it might be more accurate to say that EVERYONE is an officer – in that everyone is committed to the guild, takes responsibility to make sure the guild operates smoothly, and is on the same page. That’s really the feeling I get from Eff. :)

  4. @Rades has a point. Granted, my experience is limited to a single guild, but every one of our regular raiders would qualify as officer material in my old guild. But this is part of the basis for the experiment, if you will – that people take responsibility for themselves and don’t NEED a nanny driving them.

    Note that not having to be DRIVEN is a different thing from having the need for technical advice or whatnot, by which I mean that part of taking responsibility for myself is knowing when to ask for help. That is a second function of guild officers (IMO), to provide technical advice and guidance. In this regard, EFF functions in an “everyone’s an officer” capacity, as all I had to do to get help on glyphing, for example, was ask, and I got insight from several fronts.

    I guess part of the hard part of saying if we succeed is that I don’t know if we have defined a standard for that measurement (nerd is me) other than “down Deathwing”, in which case we seem to be making progress in that direction.

    The idea of an officerless guild appeals to my open-source software affinities, in that both are people-powered. If I had to draw analogies, then, I’d say that open source has been working out quite well, so by extension, EtI stands a great chance of succeeding.

    I’m just happy to be here :)

  5. As someone who may have come across as an “Eff detractor” in some of my previous comments, I wanted to say that I had a similar reaction when I saw the link to and comments about your guild in the WoM post.

    So for whatever it is worth:

    I think that what you Effers are doing seems like a great thing, I think you stand a pretty good chance of being “successful.” (whatever that might end up meaning to all of you)

    I would add that in addition to communication, simply having a guild culture that emphasizes and encourages forethought (a natural product of active communication I suppose) is one of the key factors to long term success.

    My initial curiosity in your grand experiment was really grounded in a couple of things. I could have sworn that initially you were all trying to call yourselves a “leaderless” guild as opposed to an “officerless” guild. The two are not the same thing at all. At the same time, I had read through your own consternation at the frustrations often involved with being in a leadership position. Having gone through a similar progression of roles multiple times myself, and watched numerous others also go through a similar process of trying to find the right balance of responsibility for a group, I just felt compelled to offer up some “food for thought” in my previous comments.

    You seem like a well grounded person with the right level of introspective tendencies to navigate your way through most stuff and you seem to have successfully surrounded yourself with people who share the same values and approach to the game.

    Being surrounded by people with who are capable and willing to police themselves and who would likely make excellent leaders themselves does not however diminish your own leadership status/role. Your ability to lead through example and more or less complete delegation of responsibility successfully rather than a more dictatorial approach is simply a credit to you and your group. It seems pretty clear to me as an outsider however that whether it is openly acknowledged or not, your group considers you to be their leader (alluded to by yourself in your previous comments about feeling a need to consider the weight of your own actions and comments)

    I would totally apply to be an Effer if I wasn’t already in a guild that I love ;-)

  6. It sounds like you guys are doing really well. If you are aiming to keep the guild small in future as well – then I don’t think you’ll see much problems. If you ever have a new recruit that doesn’t fit in, it will be obvious very quickly.

    The problems, from my experience, come as you grow. The core of independent, responsible people gets diluted and it gets harder to ensure that each new person is of the same ilk – particularly if they are desperately needed for a specific raid role.