Saturday, November 19, 2011
Alliances fail - but why?
Late in 2010, NOFAD was part of Saints amongst Sinners, a 500+ pilot alliance living in Querious in a -1.0 truesec dead end system (in other words - a real sanctum heaven), safely under the umbrella of the IT Alliance. A few months later, under intense pressure from enemies, IT Alliance is all but dead, Saints amongst Sinners lost sov in some of the key systems and is in full retreat to NPC nullsec and lowsec. At that moment, SaS is bleeding members and morale is at a low point. NOFAD initially redeploys to Solitude as ordered (while most alliance members just move to highsec), but the alliance seems to fail and in March 2011 we - reluctantly - leave SaS. Now, not even a year later, SAS has 5 members left; the last real corps left on November 10. Sic transit gloria Mundi and all that.
Or not to fail..
At this moment, NOFAD is part of LEGIO alliance, as part of the Against All Authorities (-A-) ecosystem. We've endured a full on assault from DRF, lost sov, lost a few corps. Several NOFAD members, with the memories of SaS's failure still fresh, didn't think LEGIO would survive. It was all too familiar! Deja vu, been there done that.. However, NOFAD decided to stay with LEGIO,as we don't want to be one of those corps that leaves at the first sign of trouble; NOFAD is committed to the alliance it joins. So we redeployed to LGK-VP as ordered, and tried to make the best of it. In the weeks that followed, the red wave crashed over Catch and then - slowly - retreated, and while we might not be out of the woodwork yet, it seems we'll survive. -A- did not fail cascade, and neither did LEGIO.
..that is my question
I'm still digesting what has happened, trying to come up with an explanation as to why SaS failed and LEGIO didn't, under roughly comparable circumstances. First, I'm looking at some external factors, and then we'll take a look at what happens within the alliances.
IT Alliance died; Against All Authorities didn't. That's one big factor, right there. As soon as IT Alliance was no longer able to defend Querious and Delve, the whole ecosystem (intel channels, ship replacement factories, jb network, supporting supercap fleet etc) collapsed. SaS was on it's own, and under those circumstances unable to defend it's space. Against all Authorities didn't die, they just retreated to Stain as they'd done before, and survived even though they lost some (important) corps. The -A- ecosystem survived and continued to support the alliances, corps and pilots belonging to it. An important difference I think.
Internal - leadership
For it's day to day operations, SaS heavily relied on it's CEO, Felix Sidius. Pretty much nothing got done without him, and his alts did much of the hauling too. Felix is a friendly, nice guy; I don't think he likes to say 'no' and for such a fast growing alliance, there were just too many tasks in his hands. Perhaps he should have delegated more than he did? And then, at the critical 'make or break' time when SaS suffered, he became a father for the first time, too! Obviously that did put some strain on his ability to be online and lead the alliance :) So even though Felix did his utter best under the circumstances, (in my opinion) the leadership structure of SaS was not mature enough to withstand the pressure we were under at that time.
LEGIO, on the other hand, has a much more diverse leadership. The CEO, Urkrathos Ulnor, without doubt calls the shots, but much of the practical management work (forum permissions, ts permissions, web site mgmt etc) is done by Scozzy. Still others run the mining/industry division and other separately defined parts of the organisation. All in all, there's much more shared responsibility, strenght and flexibility (and hence coherence, too) in LEGIO as an organisation, than there ever was in SaS.
Ironically, pretty much the same goes for IT Alliance versus -A-. IT Alliance, while not completely run by SirMolle, was definitely his, while -A- doesn't rely on one such figurehead. Perhaps a warning to all those alliances out there that do rely on one strong leader!
Internal - the pilots
Of course you can't blame a failure on just the leadership. It's also up to the pilots to step up and do what's necessary, as best as you can under the circumstances. Within SaS it seems, there were a lot of pilots who were there just to graze, so to speak. Harvesting belt rats and Sanctums for hours on end they made off with billions of ISK, but when they had to reship to combat fitted vessels and defend their place, many left, soon, without even properly saying goodbye. In short, they were not really committed to SaS. It was both surprising and sobering, to notice how many familiar voices on TS just vanished after a few weeks of hardship..
In LEGIO there was one corp opposed to following the -A- strategy to retreat to Stain and fight from there, and they left LEGIO. Ironically, that corp died pretty soon afterwards as their members couldn't agree on what to do next. Still, as was the case with SaS, not all those who remained with LEGIO followed the redeploy orders; some rarely if ever showed up in Stain. But overall, there was more pilot commitment to remain loyal to LEGIO and fight for our survival.
LEGIO doesn't have the rich, perfect -1.0 space SaS had; perhaps therefore LEGIO didn't attract the uncommitted, profiteering, 'grazing' kind of pilot. And we're better off for it: more commitment, less dead weight.
I'm interested to hear your opinions and experiences, too! Have you ever been in a corporation or alliance that failed? Any ideas why?