Sometimes a player steps away from EVE Online for a little bit, only to return and find that his corporation or alliance is not faring as well as when he left. At times like this, it is important to step back and assess whether the corporation can be saved. If it cannot, best move on. If it can, read on in this guide to rehabilitating ailing corporations.
A broken corporation tends to get into a negative feedback loop. When some people are motivated, the other rest are not. People leave, sinking tax revenues and PvP force projection. Others see the sinking numbers, perhaps on a site like Dotlan, and figure they should get out while the getting is good. Maybe some corporation assets stick to their hands on the way out, too, making things worse for the people that stay behind. The leadership, in whatever form it takes, sees all of this. And gets burned out on it. He (or they) start to blame the membership for not participating, and do less things as a result.
It is easiest for a corporation to succeed when it is already succeeding, but the reverse is equally true. All of the above trends are self-reinforcing, with plenty of other negative trends developing as side effects. A corporation in a nose dive is in trouble. When a corporation is going down the tubes, what is to be done?
Fixing Broken Leadership
Leadership is the crux of any corporate crisis in EVE Online.
A floundering corporation tends to have the root of its problems in leadership. If members are uninspired, it can usually be traced to absentee leadership, or incompetent leadership. An active CEO that works with his members and is on a first-name basis with his members is going to get a lot more leeway and effort from members than one that only talks to his inner circle, and makes periodic, angry EVE mails to his corporation.
If something goes wrong, people want to see rational accountability. They want to hear why a problem will not happen again. What EVE players do not want to see is finger pointing, paranoia, or pointless invective.
For most corporations, the fix for this is a bitter pill: replace the broken leadership with people that are active and involved. Because running a corporation is usually motivated by ego, this doesn't happen as often as it should. The solution is a compromise: an inactive CEO that is too busy with real life or too burned out to do much with his corporation in EVE can appoint a "temporary acting CEO." This way, the CEO role is being filled, and the old CEO can sate his ego and retrieve the reins of power if he returns. Well, unless the corporation members really, really like the acting CEO. A power struggle between an acting CEO and returning CEO is generally better than the corporation disintegrating due to neglect, believe it or not. Assets disappear and tempers flare, either way. Best to ensure the continuation of effective leadership in order that the corporation can continue to function and exist, even if some milk gets spilt.
Your corporation needs shared assets. Things like starbases, shared blueprints, or loaner mining ships. Whatever. But it needs those assets to not come at the expense of the members, or people will leave for corporations with less greedy revenue models. It may be best to de facto bribe corporation members to be happy.
If part of your problems as a corporation are military or PvP in nature, then subsidizing ships and modules, or producing them and handing them out, are both good ways to remind people why they like their corporation.
If any of this is fiscally impossible, asking for donations, holding mining ops, or wormhole ops (if you have the expertise), are all good ways to garner income for direct use to bolster your players' flagging confidence. A functioning corporation should be spending most of what it takes in taxes on the membership, anyway. Just watch out for freeloaders.
The best way to motivate your people is to enable then to win victories (especially in PvP). If this is impossible, you may want to give them goals. They can be lofty goals, but there should probably be goalposts, including ways and means that the players can work toward the final result.
The most important thing is to keep yourself and other members of your corporation interested and engaged.
- Moving to null-sec space (usually by renting from an alliance or living out of a POS).
- Building a supercapital (perhaps a Nyx or less realistically, an Avatar).
- Accumulating enough planetary interaction materials and minerals to build a station in null-sec.
I have been in corporations with all of those goals. Unfortunately, most of them never took any real steps to actualize them. As the months and years went by, the members in these corporations drifted away in favor of groups that were actually working toward their goals.
The best way to motivate your members toward these goals is to explicate in as much detail as possible the plan to realize them, and then regularly update how much progress is being made. Graphs of ISK collected, checklists of materials needed, whatever it takes.
A word to the wise: I don't know precisely why, but building a station is one of the most motivating things in EVE Online. People like the idea of leaving a permanent mark on EVE, and like the idea of customizing space. Everybody can make use of a station. Everybody sees how stations are useful. If stations are being built, then CEOs aren't spending the money on ships that only they can fly, or on private projects that do not really pay out dividends. Stations have relatively fixed costs, and you can work toward them by stockpiling the materials, buying the part BPCs, and by setting up planetary interaction colonies that produce the goods needed to construct them.
Big Solution #1: Start A Splinter corporation
Starting a new corporation from scratch is terrible. Effective EVE Online corporations need to grow organically, with friends inviting friends until it reaches a critical mass and snowballs into a group with serious numbers of pilots. If you try to force it, you get disinterest pilots that never quite get around to moving to where your corporation lives, or amateur-hour carebear trash that can't ever be self-sufficient, even when carebearing in high-security space.
What you can do is thumb your nose at the sky, yell "screw this leadership" and create a new corporation with your friends from an existing corporation. This skips the awkward "is this ever going to be a real corporation" phase and transplants an already functioning group of personnel into a new situation. Hopefully with more motivated leadership and the removal of less effective players from your midst, the new corporation can get back to doing what it does best, and continue growing and thriving.
This may involve problems if your former corporation has existing diplomatic ties. Will the new corporation be able to make the same friends as the old corporation? Or were the existing diplomatic ties contingent on people that have not joined your splinter corporation?
Other problems might arise based on territory. If your corporation operates in high-sec, the old corporation may well declare war and cause operational problems for you. In low-sec or w-space, you may find that your usual stomping grounds are no longer safe, and that former allies that know your every trick are ready to make your life more difficult. In null-sec you will need to worry about sovereignty, starbases, station, and possibly having your rental agreement revoked (if applicable).
All this should be carefully considered before you form a splinter corporation, and only carried through as a last resort.
Big Solution #2: Step Up To The Plate
Another general fix is to be a leader in all but name. Get organized, get active, and help your fellow corporation mates help themselves. Run roaming PvP fleets or mining ops. Set up courier services for your fellows, bringing them equipment from Jita or wherever. Give away blueprint copies from your private stash.
If people are logging into EVE Online to participate in corporate activities, they will be more engaged, happier, and have a better appreciation for their corporation. The worst enemy of a corporation is boredom. Fight boredom, and save your corporation.
Big Solution #2: If All Else Fails
Well, you gave it your best shot, but a dead horse can't run in a race. If the corporation is really in a nose dive, and it is hurting you just to deal with this week's corporate drama, it may be time to exit. Depending on your personal preferences, it may also be time to kick your failing corporation while it is down! If there are unsecured goods, take them. If you know that you are on your way out, take out loans from other members of your corporation. EVE Online is a dog eat dog world, and it is probably best to help put your now-hopeless corporation out of its misery with a few final nails in the coffin.
That's all for now. May you never have need of this guide!