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Oranizing an alliance, part II


Ferrous

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From last week, we discussed the four primary departments when it comes to organizing an alliance. Now, what about leading those departments, and leading the alliance as a whole? That question will be the subject of this week's blog.

First, we need to establish the need for a leader, for a ministry or for an alliance in the first place. Leaders contribute two aspects which are vital towards any organization - direction and cohesion. What's important to note is that these aspects are more inherent in the person, rather than in the position. For instance, let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that we have 5 people in government. A treaty gets signed with a majority vote, and the government consists of 4 ministers and a chancellor/president/emperor/king/leadership position. Now, the leader gets just as many votes as everyone else - 1. But the reason that person is in a leadership position is not necessarily because they got elected or appointed into the position, but rather because they give the impression that they can provide cohesion and direction.

These two ideas are vital - cohesion so that the organization can work together to obtain the same goals, and direction so they know how to focus their energies. Without some sense of leadership, the group can fall apart from infighting. Again, leadership is based more on the person rather than the position, so even if a chancellor/emperor/whatever fails to step up to the plate, a more minor government official can become a more active voice.

Now that we've established that a leader or group of leaders is important, let us now consider the different kinds of leadership structures. First, let us consider the size. If we have too many leaders, then we simply have a group of type A individuals without any actual direction. So it stands to reason that if it is a group, it needs to be small. How small? Three is usually the smallest number we see in CN - a triumvirate. Triumvirates are nice for several reasons - if one of the triumvirs has a dissenting voice, there is a means to overrule them by a majority of the other two triumvirs. Also, the group is small enough that the three in command can have conferences on a personal note and not get bogged into large group politics; something that can really keep the ball moving. The disadvantage of a triumvirate is that there is no clear figurehead, or if there is, the other triumvirs are ignored. For instance, Zenith has a triumvirate, consisting of Duncan King, Suvorov and Metictype. Now, most people know Duncan King, but not necessarily the other two, even though they carry just as much importance in the alliance. Is that a good thing? Sometimes. In the case of Zenith, that's okay - Duncan King is our external triumvir - everyone is supposed to know her. Suvorov is still relatively new to the position and Metictype is our internal triumvir. But what if specific roles were not assigned? In fighting can happen because others may become jealous of one's personal fame. It certainly is a balancing act.

So what are the alternatives? Going with an even amount of leaders (2 or 4) can be risky. If there is a deadlocked vote, there is no good way to break it. 5 leaders is too many. So we have to throw out dual leadership, or leadership by four. Which brings us to 1 leader. The advantage of a single leader is obvious - when he/she wants something done, there is no debate that needs to be brought up. Their vote is their vote and no one else's. However, while it cuts down on the red tape that plagues alliance politics, it also runs the risk of the leader making a bad decision in haste. It's always beneficial to have someone else double check an idea - many bad ideas are caught that way before they see the light of good policy. Usually, this is not much of an issue since many alliances require the vote of both the leader and their ministers.

So now, we're on to one of the most hotly debated topics of CN - should the leader be elected or appointed? The answer will come next week when I'm more awake at this hour.

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Currently, Advent runs with 2 leaders, myself and Kae Lee. Communication between us is very high and so far it is unheard of, for us, not to come to an agreed conclusion. Just in case we cannot come to an agreement, however, our Charter provides for an 'Advisor': someone who we can approach in regards to issues that we both feel very strongly about. That Advisor is picked from the Ministerial leadership (of our currently small alliance) for a period of two months, in order to also provide an avenue to free up the 'log jam' mentality.

Really, I believe that the real issue behind all leadership, regardless of size, is communication. If no one talks and discusses things honestly with each other, then you are going to have problems. People might resent a decision, not because they weren't heard out on the issue, but because they didn't voice their true feelings. It is no ones fault, except for that person who didn't say what they felt, but the resentment will still linger. To a certain degree, I suppose, it is a bit about trust as well. Being able to freely speak without fear of recourse, or hurting feelings, is paramount to constructive conversation.

Just as a quick aside - even when you run an alliance where decisions are made at the very top - that doesn't mean that you don't listen to your Ministers, Deputy Ministers, or even the Membership at large. Engaging people, and offering them a chance to voice their opinion makes them feel a part of the organization - and it also helps to formulate better policy in my opinion. With all things, however, there is a cut off point. A point where the discussion either repeats itself, or time has run out on set goals - but that is why leaders are leaders, and good ones use the resources at hand, as much as they can, before making a decision.

So what I am basically saying is, you can have an even number of leaders, if you have the necessary alternatives to break deadlocks (which, in our case, is basically an appointed third leader). Also, if you find the right person to be a leader of an alliance with, and you communicate properly and openly, then you might not ever need the third vote. :)

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In some ways, Ryiis, Advent actually has more of a triumvirate then a dual leadership. Your adviser position, when it comes to voting, has just as much power as either you or Kae.

That said, it is an interesting way to break ties, and should there be an even number of ministers, you're right, you need some way to break a tie. However, I think that alliances who create additional rules for simply breaking ties are jumping through hoops to do something fairly simple. An alliance government structure, at its core, should be simple and easy to understand. Creating additional rules to fix holes in your charter only slows down the government. (at least, that's my own opinion).

That said, while elections can be costly for an alliance (possibility of picking the wrong person, transition periods, etc.), the setup you guys have might very well be the best one for you. I'm not one for saying "there is only one way" and I encourage finding new ways to run a government. So thank you for the contribution.

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