Feb 18 2010

Leadership

Every once and a while I like to reflect on what I enjoy most about what I do. It’s kind of interesting to look through all of my experiences, previous self reflections, and currently where I am in my life, career, etc. Most of all I think about my experiences and which of those experiences I get the most fulfillment from, whether they are technical, managerial, or leadership oriented. Of all of my experiences in both personal and professional, I think that I enjoy any kind of managerial / leadership position where I’m helping a team build and perform. Mostly, I love supporting others.

Leading a strike team of developers on CPWeb over a 6 month process to resolve security flaws in a decade old web product. My time as an alpha medic, representing the players of Tabula Rasa, communicating to the developers on how they could improve the class. My experiences as a Admin / Developer / GM of Obsidian, helping shape a world for other players to enjoy. The ongoing saga of and all that guild has meant to me, leading a community of players who have like minded, respectful, play style. My attempts to start a leadership resource website for MMO leaders, giving them resources to learn how to be better leaders and write articles on leadership styles and techniques and my conversation with John Kotter about the idea and his support of the concept. All the volunteer work I’ve done to help small business, organizing volunteer efforts for work, and helping provide feedback to how we can improve our respect for remote colleges in a globalized corporation. My time as a manager of software development, both improving my product, managing a small team of developers, and all while making vast improvements to the product and customer delight. My attempts at leading an independent game studio to develop an XBox 360 title with a team of people spanning the globe from the UK, to the east and west coast of the US. If you really want to boil it down, my role as a healer in an MMO is because I enjoy being in that supportive role, helping others succeed.

All of these accomplishments I’m deeply proud of. All of these accomplishments have a central theme: they involve leadership and supporting others.

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Jan 20 2010

Geocaching, HILYMI, painting, and getting caught up

Published by at 10:18 am
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Been a long time since I blogged and I think that I will start doing so again more often. It’s a great way for me to get things off my mind and recently I’ve been very stressed out. Fortunately I’ve had a good avenue for channeling my stress… WoW. Of course WoW has it’s own stresses, especially since I’m managing HILYMI again (thanks to my guildies who pulled me back), but overall I think I’m taking a more stress free approach this time and enjoying the game.

The holidays were good and my niece, Ms. Rachiepants, has been growing sooooo much. The little tike is already running around and being a trouble maker. I love seeing here every week when I go over to Rays. It seems like every week she’s doing something or saying something new.

Kerrie and I have been doing quite well. Thanks to some assistance with a counselor, we’ve been more focused on quality time with each other and balancing “me time” with “us time”. We’ve also been exploring more and more things to do together including painting, more and more cooking together, and our latest new activity: geocaching. Expect a lot of blogs soon about geocaching, painting, and of course HILYMI. We also have several camping and other trips scheduled in 2010 so it’s going to be a very eventful, thankfully in a good way, relaxing year for us. 2009 was very stressful and it will be nice to enjoy 2010.

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May 20 2009

It’s been a crazy month

Published by at 9:08 am
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It has been a really busy this month, insanely busy even for my standards. Everything from fishing trips, trying to recover the guild, getting setup for my final term of college while still making A’s and staying focused on the classes I’m taking now, making an offer on the house we’ve been renting, getting turned down by the home owner (she’s crazy I tell you), and now we’ve made an offer on a different house after looking at several with a realtor. All this while trying to stay focused at work, delivering a product release on time, feature complete, with over 100 bug fixes. Everything is moving at the speed of light although to be honest, there’s nothing like shining in the face of a daunting task.

I don’t normally blog while at work, but taking the time to just quickly compose in written form the level of insanity my life is right now.

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May 04 2009

The Four Major Tasks of the Guild Leader

Published by at 7:39 pm
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In the May 2009 article of HBR there was a very interesting article “What Only the CEO Can Do”. It made me think a bit about how this could be adopted to the role of the guild leader and what ONLY the guild leader can do. A member recently told me that ONLY the guild leader can make amazing things happen. Officers can make things happen, but generally only in support of what the guild leader is already doing. Of course the guild leader can’t do it alone which is why he needs good, dedicated officers.

Defining the Meaningful OutsideOf all of your external stakeholders which ones are the ones that matter most? What results are most meaningful?

In applying this concept to Warhammer, our external stakeholders are potential future members, members of the alliance, and the general opinion of the server community. Unlike a normal business who’s goal is profit, the goal of a guild is to be self sustaining and sustainable over time. Depending on the guild, different results will matter.  Our guild does a little bit of everything, but generally we’ve prided ourselves in excellent PVE results and meaningful RvR results. Showing these results to the outside means that we attract people of similar goals into the guild.

Deciding What Business You are InWhere should you play to win? Where should you not play at all? These are difficult decisions that require thurough evaluation and discussion. However, only the CEO has the enterprisewide perspective to make the tough choices involved.

Frankly we’ve always tried to be a mix of everything, especially in Warhammer. Maybe the time is nigh and we need to get serious and focus as a PVE guild or just an RvR guild. Obviously we will still do a mix, but we need to focus on “winning” at one or the other. If we win at one or the other, then the other will fall behind it, as such is the nature of the game. I think for this reason, we might officially change the focus of the game to be more PVE focused with a supporting RvR back focus.

Balancing Present and Future Learning to strike the right balance between short and long term comes wfrom experience and judgment than from facts. Defining realistic grown goals is the first step toward getting the balance right; determining what goals are “good enough” to deliver in the short term is critical to gaining creditibility and momentum for the long term. Finally, the CEO’s personal involvement in leadership development may have the single biggest long-term impact on the company’s future.

This is something I think I have always done well in setting short and long term goals for the guild, delivering those goals, and following up on the progress of the goals in my monthly addresses to the guild. I need to do a better job of getting everyone involved more with the monthly goals. One thing I have not done well in my transition from WoW to Warhammer is establish a well enough base of officers who can reliably push the momentum when I’m not around. I can’t be online every night of the week and there needs to be officers who are moving our goals forward.

Shaping Values and StandardsValues establish a company’s identity; they are about behavior. If the company is to win, these values must be connected to the meaningful outside and relevant to the present and the future. Standards are about expectations; they define what winning on the outside looks like.  They are best established by answering two important questions: Are we winning with those who matter most? Are we winning against the very best?

I have to admit that while I’ve always done an amazing job of shaping values and holding a high standard in our values, I have not done the best at holding people to high standards. Unfortunately there is always the constant struggle with a volunteer organization of pushing people too far or not far enough. Some people do need to be pushed to get the optimal performance out of them, but push them too far and they leave. A volunteer organization like a guild makes defining and holding people to standards very difficult.

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Apr 03 2009

Compliments

Published by at 8:30 am
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I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. I don’t take compliments well.

Especially when I get compliments on something like what I did last week. Getting that architecture document and presentation done, in my opinion, had to be frackin’ done. I busted my hide for the better of the team, company, and frankly for my stress level. I wanted to get that out because I had talked about it, and talked about it, and talked about it, and even though I wanted it to be more collaborative than it ended up being, frankly I got to the point where I didn’t goddamn care anymore. I got it done and asked for feedback afterward.

So when I got compliments from Tim, Andrew, and other people in the office, I guess I could only respond with “I did what I felt like had to be done” or “I just wanted to get shit done”. I dunno. Maybe I need to take compliments more. Maybe it says something about my own insecurities. Hell I don’t even feel the document / diagram is really all that amazing, although people have said as such.  I mean I’m proud of the work I did on it. I’m am glad that people are complementing on the work I did. I guess the best compliment that anyone could give me is ACTION. I want to see something happen now. I guess it’s an action speaks louder than words concept. 

You know… to think of it. I’m feeling the same way with my guild. Skies, one of my officers, complimented me last night on all the hard work I’ve been doing recruiting last Friday through Monday. I was happy to be recognized for my hard work, but what pisses me off is that she says that, but do I see her doing her job in the guild? Do I see her creating and organizing PQ and other Tome Event activities? No. Actions speak louder than words. If you are really excited and happy about all the hard work I’ve been doing, then show me you care by helping keep those recruits by organizing events and helping evaluate them for membership.

Going back to the work related thoughts, I really think that action will take place here. That’s when I’ll get really excited and feel that the actions match the feedback I’ve gotten. If they feel the vision is “really really cool”, then they need to act upon it.

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Apr 02 2009

70 or so recruits and falling

Published by at 10:52 pm
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So when you make a large cake, you gotta break some eggs. I’ve recruited to the breaking point of being able to track all of them and now that I’ve hit that breaking point, I’m taking a break to see how all these new recruits pan out. There’s a LOT of potential in a lot of the recruits, but I was still shocked to find out several left today. I probably shouldn’t be shocked, all of them except 1 hadn’t even posted on our website yet. Amazingly, one quit after I told him to make a post. He replied to my request with a /gquit and told me “uuuuuggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh.  Sorry man I’m just not into commitment”.

Amazing I gotta tell you, what’s MMOs coming to. In a way I kind of miss the days of EQ where people respected their relationship with their guild and when guilds were almost a requirement to play the game past level 20. Oh well. In the end even if half the recruits make it we’ll be better off. In about a month I’ll go through another recruitment drive. I like this recruit at the end/beginning of the month because it’s easy to keep track of when recruits recruitment period is over. We’re averaging about 18-20 people on every night. Hopefully that number stays constant. In about a month we’ll have that many 30-40 members online and Bastion Stair well become our nightly mistress. Like they say “let the bodies hit the floor”!

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Mar 29 2009

42 new recruits since Friday

Published by at 11:07 pm
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Yes, 42 new recruits and we have more potentially through referrals.

Now that we have a more active player base, I really need to put some fires under the asses of the officers. Either they need to step up and start organizing events or I need to find new officers. I busted my ass to reignite the fire in HILYMI, they need to make sure to keep the coals red hot and not let them die from lack of attention. I will continue to recruit through the week. My hope is to have around 100 unique members by the end of the week. Some recruits won’t make it, but then again I do know that with the surge of new people, a lot of current members will step out of the darkness. Worst case scenario, I will be able to recruit a few more if we drop below that number.

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Mar 27 2009

Getting HILYMI back up to speed

Published by at 11:47 pm
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Thanks to Michael being on board now, I’m feeling amazingly oddly relaxed and most of all I feed like I can focus on the guild for the first time in months.

I actually recruited 10 new recruits for HILYMI today. I tried a slightly new angle on my recruitment method and it seems to be working really well. I actually took the time to promote an officer and come up with a game plan on how to get the guild running back at full steam again. I’m absolutely amazed, I dunno, it just feels like magically things are just going really well. 

I think I might need to make some revisions to the HILYMI website. It seems enough people are getting confused with the forums that it might warrant some updates to the skin. Not really a big deal, just something needing to be look into. I also need to start producing some guild videos as well as updating the guild gallery. Maybe I can find the time this weekend to do some of that. 

Tonight we had 12 people online at one point. I really would love to see the guild over 20 online again. Once we start hitting over 20 consistently, every night, then I know we’re at a healthy guild number. It seems like a healthy number of about 20-25 will keep the guild from ever complaining that there’s “nothing” to do. We might certainly get close to 80 unique members with 40 or so alts, putting the guild around 120 characters. Of course the most I’ve managed in unique members was around 120. If we ever get that big again, I’ll have to make sure I have solid officers first. If we had that many we’d be able to fill over half a war band and probably a full war band on most nights. Of course regular PVE runs would be a given for sure. I think we can’t do it just with recruitment though. We need to focus on scheduling events.

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Feb 22 2009

How to survive a server move in an MMO

Published by at 9:46 pm
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Thoughts and wisdom. What went right, what went wrong.

 

EDIT: I originally posted this as a placeholder because I thought I would have some kind of good words of wisdom, but honestly it wasn’t that big of a deal. I made it a bigger deal than anyone else did, even the members were like “oh well”. The server move went rather quick and painless. People are still getting invited as of the 26th which is when I’m making this edit, but overall things have gone well. Guild is rather healthy and hoping to start getting new recruits on a more healthy server.

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Feb 19 2009

Moving servers

Published by at 7:44 pm
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Wowy zowie batman!

We’ve all known for a while that the overall population of Umgrim has been suffering. We’ve been asking Mythic for a while to merge our server with another one. Well Mythic took it a step further. Starting tomorrow they are offering free server transfers for anyone on Umgrim and 2 other low population servers onto 2 other servers which they hope to be stable in population once this is all done. So collectively via Warhammer Alliance and other boards like UmgrimWarlords, we have made a universal decision for the MAJORITY of the server of Umgrim to move to Iron Rock. This is on very short notice because the move starts… TOMORROW. Yes that’s a big order and a lot of fast communication I need to make to my guild to ensure that everyone all does the work necessary to move their characters to Iron Rock. We have no idea what will happen to people who don’t transfer now so everyone needs to get it done. We’ve communicated via phone calls, text messages, forum PM’s, posts, and emails. Hopefully we’ve reached most everyone. We’ll see how this goes. A little nerve wrecking for sure!

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