Cultivating Corporate Culture:


The Whats, Whys, and Hows of How to Brainwash Minions Correctly

Eve Online is unique in the scale of its player organized communities. When you play a standard MMO you get used to the idea that a large guild is something like eighty players. In Eve, that’s almost a bare minimum to actually call yourself a corporation. Small corporations honestly start in the low fifties, while the largest ones tower in the thousands. Divide that by CCP Quant’s 1.6 accounts per player (analysis by the Target Caller blog) and that’s still a ton of people. This scale brings on a number of issues in managing those people. The most successful corporations in Eve are as organized as the most successful corporations in the real world, with usually at least four ways of communicating outside the game (IRC, forums, voice chat, and a ping program of some kind), multiple layers of management, and an IT infrastructure that some small businesses would kill for. The reason for that organization is simple: the bigger your corporation, the more organization you need to keep your group focused upon its goals. For some people that goal is to have the dankest frags, for some it’s to conquer large swathes of territory, and for others it’s to embezzle as much money as humanly possible into as few wallets as Eve will even allow. Whatever your goals, there are a number of tools at your disposal to focus your grunts, but the best and most successful is your corporate culture. However, cultivating that corporate culture is one of the most difficult things you can do. Corporate culture is somewhat amorphous and difficult to define, but for the purpose of this article we will look at player organizations at every level, from NPSI standing fleets to region-spanning coalitions. Business administration types would define this culture as “…encompassing values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization”.
“Does your corporation have its own language? Probably.”
Does your corporation have its own language? Probably. The experiences and history of your corporation makes its way into your inside jokes until you start using them to describe people, situations, and behaviors. For instance, when someone bitches to CCP about something in order to protect their krabs it could be described as pulling a Sort Dragon. Another example is how my corporation describes someone who has the tendency to act like a specific world war two dictator who had a problem with large noses and awesome pickles as pulling a Ganky. (Rant). Tomorrowadream Another aspect people may not think about as your corporate culture is your recruitment standards. If you headhunt and have extremely specific standards you start defining yourself as elite. Exclusivity by nature engenders feelings of superiority. Rooks and Kings is a great example of this. They have SP requirements, activity and availability requirements, required SSDs in your gaming rig… the list goes on. Brave Newbies can be considered the polar opposite with the “Anything with a pulse” mentality that has defined their openness and willingness to bring in new players. In both cases their recruitment standards define how they’re perceived and because of that they attract people who perceive their recruitment standards as attractive. That means Rooks and Kings are going to get a higher than average number of people who define someone’s worth in Eve Online by their killboard statistics, but who are also very likely to invest themselves deeply into their association because of how much it took to get in. In the meantime, Brave Newbies is going to be more relaxed, but at the same time it’s going to have a huge turnover rate of people who join and then leave because it doesn’t cost them anything to do so. There’s a thousand and more things that I could point out as corporate culture but for now I’d like to focus on why so much mental masturbation matters. Like calls to like and changing that impulse gets more and more difficult after a certain critical mass. One of the things the gaming community is trying to do as a whole is tackle something called “toxic behaviour”. Toxic behavior can be anything from outright hostility within the corporation to more of a general lethargy and depression of the corporate attitude. On the opposite side, corporate attitude can be upbeat and energized. Usually this is based on morale and morale is based on whether or not you’re meeting your goals.
An important tool in managing corporate culture is making sure that your goals are clear, concise, and that you’re making visible and substantial progress towards them. For example, if you’re a highsec industry corp you might meet your goals by harvesting X millions of units of whatever mineral or gas, likewise, you might fail your goals by getting wardecced and being completely unable to play all week or losing a hauler full of last month’s mining materials. In one case you’ll keep corporate attitude positive and upbeat, in the other you’ll incite a riot among your membership and possibly have a coup staged. Standing corporate culture can mitigate or exacerbate issues. If you have a culture based on being “The Best” when someone upstages you, you’re going to have a hard time holding onto that upbeat attitude. If you have a culture of, “Fuck it, we’re retarded and we know it” you’ll land on your feet faster after failure. While it would seem that the best possible way to be is to be relaxed as humanly possible with self depreciating humor, you actually run into other issues with that, namely that it’s difficult to define your corporation as succeeding in its goals if it’s too lax in setting any for fear of coming off as tryhard or elite posers. However, proper goal setting is a paper for a later date. For now it’s important to understand that many factors are in play in keeping your corporate culture working for you instead of against you. Managing your corporate culture is more of an art than a science, and it’s definitely not something you can force as a CEO. Instead, you have to nudge your culture one way or another with things like recruitment, the goals you set for your corporation, and your tone and mannerisms while communicating with your corporation. While you can’t force your culture any one way, it’s an important variable to consider at all stages of a corporation’s lifetime, whether you’re getting ready to found your corporation, you’re growing fast and doing well, or even when you’re in the middle of a fail cascade. Correctly assessing the state of your corporate culture will let you know what your strengths, weaknesses, and limits are as an organization. Your culture is one of the things that can either hold you back or propel you forward, and its something that’s easier to form early because it’s like concrete, mold-able when wet but once it dries out takes extreme measures to change anything, and you usually do a lot of damage in the process. In the next few articles I hope to give you specific tools to form your own corporate culture and help you assess your current corporation.
Tags: corporate culture, Ganky, leadership

About the author

Ganky Deska

Ganky Deska is a long time W-Space pilot and once CEO of a small J-Space corporation by the name of The Maythorn. He now mostly enjoys telling people how they're doing everything wrong.