Friday, November 30, 2012

Communication within your Corporation

  Communication is one of the most important things within your corporation. Knowing what is going on, and who is doing what will help you move your corporation forward. There are many forms of communication you can use, but I want to deal with written communication first. This will be your first form of communication, before Team speak, mumble, or any other Voice server.
  No discussion of communication is complete without mentioning the importance of effective writing skills. No matter what you do for the corporation, at some point you’re going to put words on electronic paper. You might need to write a memo, a report, or a policy change. What you say matters; how you say it can matter more. Although writing is a life skill, not just a job skill, many people turn into babbling bureaucrats when they write. There's no reason for you’re writing to be any more convoluted than talking. In fact, it can be easier to write because you focus just on your presentation. In fact, it's as easy as three steps that you can view as your AIM:
·         Audience: Who will read your message?
·         Intent: Why are you writing?
·         Message: What do you have to say?
  Make separate lists to answer each of these three questions. Then use your lists as an outline and begin writing. Write as though your audience is sitting in front of you and you are talking to them. Hold the slang, but stay conversational. Write enough content (your message) to cover your intent — no more. Be sure the vocabulary you choose is appropriate for your audience; steer clear of jargon.
  Don't let the process of writing intimidate you. It's just another form of communication. The best way to begin writing is to start with what's on your mind. Keep in mind that you don't have to start at the beginning. You can rearrange your blocks of words after you get them down on screen. Often one idea flows into the next once you get started, leading you through all of what you want to say. And remember, nobody gets it just right the first time. Writing is a process of editing and revision. If you don't like the way something sounds, change it.
Keep It Concise
  To keep your focus clear and clean, make sure every sentence contributes to your intent and message in a way that is relevant to your members. The poor yield from the mining operation last week was interesting, but the members receiving your mail just need to know the problems and the suggestions for remedying them. The typical member gives a mail about eight seconds to prove itself worthy of further interest and more time. Brevity counts!
EvE-mail Issues
  Ironically, it's the proliferation of electronic communication that most graphically illustrates the need to address writing skills. The speed with which we can zip messages across the EvE Universe makes us behave as though we must take every available shortcut to save even more time, circumventing the processes that effective writing requires. The instantaneous nature of EvE-mail makes us feel as though we have to read and write at the same speed. But we don't (and can't), and trying to is often a direct route to misunderstanding. The same guidelines for effective communication on paper apply in the paperless environment of cyberspace.
  Because e-mail is instantaneous, it's easy to fire off responses and comments without thinking about potential ramifications. The fact that most of us delete EvE-mail messages once we've read or sent them gives the impression that they are temporal communications, existing only in time just like conversations in person or over the phone (and just as private). Wrong! This is a common and potentially hazardous belief. Any mail you send can be forwarded to anyone in the game.
  If you wouldn't write something in a letter or a memo, don't write it in an EvE-mail message, either. With Mailing lists and the ability to forward, the message you send to your members “for your eyes only” could end up on hundreds of other computers. EvE-mail messages have embarrassed CEO’s and miners alike, and they are an increasing source of evidence in Diplomacy issues. That offhand comment you fire off in response to a question about someone's screw up could become an electronic ghost that returns to haunt you days or weeks from now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Command and Control

  Now that you are in control of your new corporation, it’s time to look at what kind of command structure you’re going to use. Remember that anyone you make a director will have almost full access to your whole Corporation, its bank accounts, and all stored items. Use of the titles option, I have found, works a lot better than trying to assign individual roles to people. If you go to the manage titles tab, you can change a name to something like recruit, and then flip through and assign what all recruits will be able to access within your corporation. You can then make other titles, like member, miner, refiner, production specialist, combat pilot, and anything else you can imagine and set those titles up the way you want to. Using this method, you can better control all access to your corporate hangers, and bank accounts. The use of secure containers will also help with item control as you can set a password that only the people you choose can get in to.   
  What you set up will be dependent on the size of your corporation right now, and making it able to expand and contract as you grow larger or lose members is essential. To start with the initial size of the corporation will dictate what you need for leadership, if it’s small then you alone can probably run it for now. As you grow, you will probably want to separate things a little to keep control of what’s going on. We made divisions in our corporation to keep a flow within the division as well as in, and out of the other divisions. Currently, we have a Mining Division, Production Division, and a Military Division. Within these divisions, we have made it easy to expand or contract that division to reflect what may be going on in that division at the time. As an example, Our Mining Division started with just one high-sec mining foreman, and his miners, but now has both a high-sec, and null-sec division within the mining division itself. The ability to keep things in divisions allows you to keep an eye on certain sections, know what they should be doing, and catch a problem before it gets worse.
  I set up my Command as a triad type leadership, meaning that there are three co-leaders that run our corporation.  Any good leader will recognize and address that they are not perfect, and even though you are a strong and capable leader, surrounding yourself with people that are strong where you are weak is a very good practice. Presidents, and Kings have done this, why shouldn’t you. If you have a person that you can trust, that you know when you are offline, is looking out for the corporation, and that you don’t worry about when you’re not around, you may want to consider him for a leadership position in your corporation. I have two great co-leaders, one is my mentor, the person that gave me the CEO position to begin with, and without whom I probably wouldn’t be running this thing today. He has been playing for a long time, and knows a lot of information about the game, from ship fittings, and capabilities, to market trends, and production. This is my go to guy for all knowledge that is EvE. If he doesn’t know the answer, he knows where to find it. My other co-leader excels in numbers, and spread sheets. He can make a spreadsheet for just about anything, and he watches over a lot of our build projects. He has been instrumental in our building Fenrir’s and our jump freighter. We work well together, and run the corporation well due to the different strengths and weaknesses we have, and together we have each others’ back.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Starting out......

  Starting a new corporation in not all that hard, and the skills needed are minimal to begin with. Once you have the Corporation Name all set, and you enter into being a Chief Executive Officer is where the fun starts. In order to run a good corporation you really need only three things, common sense, logical thinking, and the will to make the things you want to happen, happen. At this point you should be asking yourself a lot of questions, but let’s start with the basics. The first thing you need to do is look around your corporation and see just what you have to work with. I understand the want to dream big, but we need to be realistic in what we can do right now, and what we can work towards for the future.
  We have to start with some kind of plan, or foundation if you will. Just like building a house, you need to make sure you build your corporation on a solid foundation so you will always know it can remain stable. Your foundation should begin with what you’re corporation is going to represent right now, and how you’re going to achieve the goals you want to set for it. What will your corporation do? There are a lot of different ways you could go, mining, production, player vs. player, hauling, piracy, any combination of things are possible in EvE. Whatever you choose, design your foundation to support it. If you go industrial, start off with mining, build to production, then expand on that to capital ship production. The steps I listed are the basics, and you would need to make a business plan how you would get from point A to point B, who would do what, and how it’s going to get there. If you’re a one man corporation it’s easy, all your people work for you by way of several accounts, and dual boxing et all. When other real life people are involved, it gets a bit more complicated.  What are the people’s skills in your corporation? How will they fit in with your overall plan?
  There should always be two sets of goals, short term, and a long term. The short term goal would be right now, what you’re going to do at this minute to grow your corporation. The long term goal would take into account, growing skill sets, better ships, and recruitment.

  If all your people can do is mine right now, then that’s what you want them doing while you get them to skill up. You as a corporation can help them with making ISK, instead of them mining for free and giving it to the corporation (although this should be done once a week to help with corporate expenses, and bring everyone together), use the corporation contracts to buy their ore from them. This allows your people to make some ISK, buy new things, and feel like they’re getting somewhere. Make sure that you make the contracts out for at least Jita (or nearest trade hub) sell price, we use -6.5% off Jita (or nearest trade hub) sell price, since they don’t have to worry about refining it, or hauling it anywhere. This will either require you to create a spreadsheet to keep track of Jita (or nearest trade hub) prices for the types of ore available in your system, or you can try using a notebook (I suggest getting cozy with excel, you will be using it a lot). We also offer incentives to our newer members.  Retrievers are cheap, and when our members gain the skills to use one, we give it to them. It makes them happy, and it allows them to mine more for your corporation. It’s a win for all.

  In an industrial corporation you would look to raise skills to exhumers for your miners, having someone raise their Refining skills to work towards perfect refine in the station your corporation is based out of, and having someone skill up to be able to fly haulers, freighters, and finally an Orca. Some of these would be your long term goals, as you build your mining Corporation bigger, these will be what you will need, and starting to work on them now is important.  Also, as you’re building your Company up, keep in mind that the Reputation with the corporation that you are based out of is very important. The better your reputation is with them, the less they will take from you when refining ore. Fleet up your main refining character, and then run missions with your mission runner. When you turn in your mission, both characters will get reputation.    
  You can start off slow by buying your miners ore, refining it, and taking it to market to sell, as long as you give your miners fair price for their ore, and since you would be doing the refining and the hauling of the minerals, no one should be put out. The corporation will make a little profit from the minerals, and until you have the skills you need to build, this is the fastest way to make a profit for your Corporation.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

In the Beginning.....

  Before I knew of the existance of EvE Online, I was playing Tanks. Having been disenchanted with World of Warcraft, I had played for seven years, and the "Been there, done that" feeling had grown to the point of just wanting to walk away from it, and everything I had built. When I say that, it was now mere feat, at the time I was running a guild with over three hundred and thirty toons, and about thirty or so active players. The funny part of it all was I had never intended to run a guild again, after we has switched servers, and a few of us began again as horde characters. I guess it's in my blood to want to step up and try and make a place for my friends to have a place they can call home, and where their voices could be heard in what they wanted to do in game. We ended up recruiting a ton of great people, which I still miss some to this day, and our goal was to see end content of the game. We completed that goal, and it was enjoyable, for a time. Then came the expansions, and the vicious cycles of going and getting better gear, so we could get better gear, so we could get better gear and start raiding. It just seemed so redundant, and finally I was done with it all, I said goodbye to all my friends and walked away. I made sure the Guild was in good hands and that a large amount of my stuff went into the guild bank, sadly with all the soul bound items still sitting on my toon somewhere in the nether either gathering dust. I started my journey to find the next best thing for me to enjoy.

  Along came Tanks, and I rejoiced. Well sort of, it still was a game you had to level up and build yourself up in, but it was different, and I think that's what I was ultimately looking for. I liked the fast paced game play, and the throw back to World War II look and feel of it. I joined a great team, guild, alliance, whatever you would call it, and the guys were great. There was one in particular that stuck me as a comrade in arms and as we played together we became good friends. This guy is important to the story as you will see, and as we played tanks he told me about EvE Online and what it had to offer. I figured I would take a look.

  This guy at the time had his own corporation, nothing big, just for himself, and he offered to accept my trial account noob into it so I would have a place to call home. As I looked around New Eden, I found it to be a vast and interesting place full of opportunity and adventure. At first, I had what you would call information overload, there was so much to do, and so many different ways to do it that I was lost in a sea of possibilities. I think that if it wasn't for my new found friend in EvE, that I might have not logged on again, but he was there to give me a guiding hand and a few hundred ISK to boot, to get me started. I learned that even though I had my friend helping me out, and guiding me in my new adventure in EvE, not everyone was so helpful, well they were in their eyes, helping themselves to my jet can and hoping I would shoot back, which I did right before I died. Lesson one learned. My friend would then explain what had happened, and give me friendly advice so it wouldn't happen again. It was like sitting on your front porch, and that guy from down the street would walk by and say hi, and you would start talking about what it was really like during World War II. The Knowledge that he possessed was amazing, and I would have been a fool to not listen to the subtle and not so subtle things that EvE had to Offer, as long as I was aware of the things that could kill me, steal from me, and trick me into losing all that I had built up.

  We talked about skill queues, ships, mining, being able to protect myself, and to not fly anything I couldn't afford to lose. We also touched on the subject of having multiple accounts, even though it would cost you twice as much, even more if you wanted more toons, to play it was well worth it. Needless to say, I saw the real benefit in this and started my second toon, she was going to be pure industrial while Zensai would continue down the military path, and someday fly those big ships ! I had asked him if he ever wanted to build his Corporation up and do something on a larger scale, which he replied that he had no problem with it, but never really thought about it all that much. When the time came for my friend to take a trip that would take him away from the game for a couple of weeks, we were looking a little better as a real Corporation. We had taken on a few people that were working out really well, and also becoming good friends as well. I also got my gaming family involved, both my brothers, and my nephew were playing EvE at the time, and in the Corporation as well. So when this all happened I think we had seven, or eight active players at the time, and my friend that started me down the road in EvE pulls me aside and says that while he's gone he wants me to be the CEO of the Corporation, and he trusted me with all the stuff that he owned. I was stunned, in a good way mind you, I took it as an honor and humbly accepted the role, and what came with it.

  This is where the true story begins, and why I decided to start this blog. Even with a Hugh advantage of having a true veteran by my side helping me out along the way, there was a lot I had to learn, and do, if I was going to grow this Corporation into something that He and I could call amazing. There are a lot of aspects to this game, and particularly if you want to be a CEO of your own corporation that you have to learn, work towards, and implement that are not sitting there with a spotlight on them. I would like to write about my trials, tribulations, and achievements along the road to running a Corporation for over a year, and maybe help some up and coming CEO's, and anyone else to see what goes into running a Corporation in EvE Online. As I say in my Profile, these are my thoughts. Everyone has opinions, and the right to those opinions, some of what I write may not be what you would do, have done, or thinking of doing. Just take this as one mans story of what he did along the way.

  I will probably also be blogging about other EvE Online things as well, but I would like to base this blog on being a CEO and what goes into doing that.