Greedy Goblin

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The core of businessmanship

What is the fundamental difference between businessman and employee?

No, it's not the kind of work they do. You can have a 1-man cleaning company and work as a janitor despite most janitors are employees. Several companies have non-owner management, a CEO who gets salary and maybe profit share can run multi-billion $ companies without having a single share.

The difference is responsibility or more accurately "accountability for damage". The employee can only be sued for damage that he caused purposefully (stealing, sabotating) or if he was seriously negligent (left his post, fell asleep, was drunk), but even negligence is debatable.

The businessman on the other hand has total responsibility for all kind of damage. Tornado destroyed your shop and you had no insurance for tornado? Then all the damage the tornado caused is yours to pay. No one cares that you can't do anything about tornadoes.

Your shop was destroyed by a mad arsonist? The damage is all yours despite you were the victim who was wronged and not the wrongdoer. Of course you can have an insurance (that you must pay) or you can sue the madman if he is ever captured and he has any property.

Being businessman means that seeking "moral responsibility" is pointless. Unless you can sue someone, the damage is yours. You can lose everything without doing anything morally wrong, or even being wronged. That's why the Ltd form was created, if your business is an Ltd, you can "only" lose the invested money, not your home.

Being employee means that "moral responsibility" is crucial for you. If damage happens and you can't be held morally responsible, the damage you caused belongs to the businessman, and all he can do is stop employing you - after he paid your last salary. If the employee is clumsy, drops a bottle of flammable liquid that breaks, caught on fire from some electrical equipment and burns down the shop, the damage is the businesman's, the employee walks away, strike that, if he was burnt, he has good chances to sue the businessman for the medical bills.

In a traditional raid, the raiders are employees. They are hourly paid (by DKP), they have no other job than be on time, do as told. If something goes wrong, they still get their DKP. The worse thing that can happen to them is being kicked for being useless, and then they can walk away with all the loot they collected in previous raids. On the other hand they must work even if they see no point and they are usually poorly paid.

In my guild the raiders are businessmen. They are paid only if there is profit (boss kill), they are paid by equal profit share (equal gold from the pot) and they have to pay for the damage they cause, even if it wasn't caused by "morally wrong" actions, like they wipe us by having a DC.

Being businessman is not for everyone. You can end up with losses, especially if you are not talented. But you can end up with nice profit too. You do the job when you want to, you can turn down a raid invite if you don't find the chances for profit good enough, just like a repairman can say "sorry, I can't fix your car".

Accepting responsibility for a DC instead of starting to make up excuses how it was some weird axe-wielding man's fault is the first step becoming businessman.


Squishalot said...

Not meaning to be overly critical, but in describing your guild raiding as being like businesspeople, are you no longer trying to claim that the PuG's attitude to raiding is not job-like?

Anonymous said...

Most guilds I know use DKP very much the same way as you use your gold. You get "50 DKP MINUS!!!" if you fail and Bonus DKP for every Boss down.
If the whole raid fails badly you may walk out with very little DKP.

So - DKP is just a currency and totally anrealted to the "spirit" of the raiders

Azuriel said...

Off the deep end, man.

If your raiders were businessmen, they wouldn't need you to QA their farm raids and basically hold their hand. This was you yesterday:

It was weird that on a raid, which was lead by someone else nothing was killed in the first half (1:30). I joined in the break and asked instantly [...]

The REAL difference between businessmen and employees is the fact that businessmen take the risk to start a business in the first place. Simply being "on the hook" for mistakes does NOT make you a businessman - it makes you a commission-only employee, like a used car salesman or telemarketer. No sales this week? Sorry, you made less than a McDonald's employee.

If you believe your raiders are actually businessmen, it should not be difficult to prove it by having your weakest member raid lead. Or hell, third strongest. If there is no profit in raiding in the PuG without you in it, what does that actually say about your "businessmen?"

chewy said...

Business men or mercenary ? The same definition applies but business man sounds far more noble and appealing. Mercenary kills for money, your raiders raid for money. A mercenary goes to whichever side pays the highest for his skills and pays for his mistakes. A regular soldier is told what to do and fights when he's told, less responsible, less worthy ?

You're in the privileged position of having no market competition. If there were a PUG2 guild paying more pot and only 250g for a mistake then what ? A mistake suddenly becomes worth only 200g, perhaps that last DC we can ignore or your raiders might decide there's a better deal elsewhere ?

It's great sounding rhetoric but there are too many shades of grey you've ignored.

Evlyxx said...

One major difference is the the Managing Director / Raid Leader is getting no extra reward as would happen in a business environment.

Anonymous said...


DKP currency can only be gained by attending specific guild raids. Gold can be gained in many ways.

Gevlon said...

@Squishalot: true pugs are also formed of businessman. Each joined on his own decision, getting a share of the loot and risking their profit if anything goes wrong, even if it wasn't their moral fault.

@Anonymous: DKP can be used for currency, but it's less liquid (you can't use it outside of the guild) and can be created from thin air (hyper-inflation)

@Azuriel: being businessman has nothing to do with being skilled in what you do. The bankrupted businessman WAS a businessman, just like the car racer who finishes last is a racer.

@Chewy: Why do you think that a "PuG2 with 200G" would be more successful. The money goes to the pot. So if you don't fail, here you get more money. So non-failers would prefer higher money, failers prefer lower. The raid of non-failers would be more successful I guess.

@Evlyxx: leader can take gold from the pot/boss (if he announces it before the run)

chewy said...

@Gevlon - You're quite right, I hadn't thought about the pot at the end and therefore the higher the penalty the greater the reward for not failing.

I haven't got time right now but it doesn't change my point about competition, I'll follow up later.

Anonymous said...

@Gevlon and Anon

Of course DKP could be created from thin air, in general there are strict rules how to obtain (and loose) DKP. Also items ofen cost a fixed amount of points - which lead to neither inflation not deflation. Rather the purchasing power of the raiders changes.

One could rather argue, that your gold system is vulnerable to hyperinflation as gold can really be created from thin air (be it by a lucky streak on the AH or gold buying).

Of course gold is more liquid, but the concept is the same:
Imagine a server where everyone belongs to one guild. Then gold and DKP would be exchangeable.

You should not base your argument on the currency - it has its drawbacks and advantages, but does not influence the mindet of the raiders.

Squishalot said...

@ Gevlon: If any of your blog is to be believed, trade pugs are filled with M&S, who are opportunists and leechers. Their behaviour and their lack of a job-like approach to the raid (i.e. perform and be rewarded, fail and be penalised) is what causes their failure.

Are you now suddenly arguing that these people are businessmen?

Gevlon said...

@Squishalot: businessmanship has nothing to do with skill. If I start a company to build a spaceship from wood, I am a businessman, even if I'm a complete idiot.

Being M&S doesn't exclude you from being a businessman, it just makes it pretty unprofitable.

We can say that "it's better for morons to be employees because someone smarter than themselves tells them what to do", but it is irrelevant at this point.

Anonymous said...

This post made me sad. Accountability. I mean, seriously?

Were the people at Goldman & Sachs accountable for all the damage they caused? Were the heads of any bank that needed a bailout to avoud bankrupcy held accountable for what they did? No, they were let go with their golden parachute, and the people - az istenadta nép in hungarian - bore the consequences.

So, you should separate shareholders from executives. If bad decisions on the executives' part cause the shareholders to lose money, the worst that can happen to the executives is that they lose their job - the same way a janitor who spills dirty water onto a computer would do - unless they severely and unmaskably violate the law.

So, I don't think I supported my point enough - I'm drunk and sad - but this accountability is pure bullshit. You advertise this kind of thinking because you think you are goblin enough to be one of them - good luck, but you should know that you are detrimental to society.

Anonymous said...

In my experience, what separates businessmen from employees is that the employee is concerned with doing his job; the businessman is concerned with the overall success of the business. The employee can say "it's not my job"; the businessman says "this needs to be fixed" and figures out a way to do it.

He might be motivated by the risk of loss or the promise of gain, but the difference is the attitude. Such attitude can exist within large organizations. They're called "intrapreneurs".

In your raids, I'm sure you have people who think that figuring out why there was a wipe isn't their job. They're committed to not personally causing a wipe because you've made it part of their job and not because they have an overall sense of ownership about the raid's success. The result may be the same, but the dynamic is very different.

Vesoom said...

@ Squishalot

I sometimes think you're needlessly nit-picky, but I did chuckle a bit when I read your first comment today.

My take would be that these raids are NOT job-like exactly for the reasons outlined today. Job-like would imply that everyone is an employee at a job. Gevlon is trying to make a case that everyone is not like an employee, but like a business owner themselves.

Maybe you could say that the raids are not job-like, but are very business like.

note: I think I might have you beat on nit-pickyness there.

Anonymous said...

When some have to pay for failures and others make money from this do you hope others fail? It seems to me you would want failures other than your own to make money as killing a boss would hold very little profit. When something is on farm and everyone is head to toe in gear they obtained the only thing left for these raids is to hope people fail so you win. That or find a way to set someone up for failure.

Lighstagazi said...

@Squishalot - That's like if he compared them to flowers, asking if he meant the raiding was more flowery.

@chewy - I like the mercenary comparison a lot more. The merc comparison also opens up avenue to discuss a lot of those shades of grey he missed, because it isn't such a binary option.

@Anonymous 13:13 - Fixed costs do not prevent inflation/deflation. If you get the same amount of loot (costs), but reward more/less DKP (depending on the system, but most reward less DKP for farm runs for example, and what counts as a farm run changes), you still experience deflation/inflation, respectively.

Gold is quite resistant to hyperinflation by guild members, as it is tied to a system used by a larger number of players. Even if you don't interact with those players directly, the economic web provides a stabalizing force on the base value of the currency. Gold is no more prone to actual inflation because of a "lucky streak on the AH" than the US Dollar is about to deflate because Bobby Joe started printing counterfeit money in his basement.

Yes, if everyone was in one guild, it's possible DKP and gold would be widely exchangeable. But they aren't, which means that until that time, the one used by a larger group of players will be more stable.

And because it isn't exchangable, it very much DOES effect the mindset of raiders. For a guild using GDKP, people can leave whenever they want, because their equity is so liquid. How often in DKP guilds have you seen stable members suddenly go on big DKP spending sprees and then /gquit as they approach 0? That's where the impression of "theft" comes from, in my mind, even though it's the raider exchanging his in-guild currency for something instead of throwing it out when he leaves.

Sheldon said...

businessman –noun, plural -men.
a man regularly employed in business, especially a white-collar worker, executive, or owner.

So, businessman is not at all the correct word for what Gevlon is describing, since it applies to many salaried workers. "Entrepreneur", "freelancer", or "day laborer" would all come closer. Of course these terms cover the range from migrant farm workers to Warren Buffet. "Entrepreneur" certainly sounds more impressive, but since the guild members are paid off at the end of the day, rather than building equity in something they own, I would argue that "freelancer" or "day laborer" are closer to the mark.

"Mercenary" is not a very good term either, because most mercenaries work for professional companies, rather than operating independently.

chewy said...

My point about the competition was a separate point from the mercenaries but nevertheless connected.

You were right to call me on the figures because it didn't illustrate what I was saying by making that mistake.

I felt today's post was full of fine rhetoric comparing your raiders to business men but it is not a business environment. You don't have any competition, you have a monopoly on your methods, so it isn't any true test in the business sense.

I like your ideas and methods, I think you have proved they succeed but it's a stretch of the imagination to start claiming that you're deploying "businessmen".

Squishalot said...

@ Gevlon: So going back to my original point, is the PuG's attitude to raiding not job-like, with its system of rewarding success and penalising failure? Whether any other raiding group's approach is job-like is a strawman argument.

@ Vesoom: I think you're being very nit-picky :)

If you try to argue that a successful businessperson doesn't consider that their work is job-like, I can guarantee that they'll disagree with you. Being an employee or an employer doesn't change anything but the responsibilities you have - you still have to pull your own weight! See Gevlon's first two sentences: "What is the fundamental difference between businessman and employee? No, it's not the kind of work they do."

So, no, I don't accept that job-like <> businessperson as a valid excuse, and that's not being nit-picky, that's just obvious.

Azuriel said...

@Azuriel: being businessman has nothing to do with being skilled in what you do. The bankrupted businessman WAS a businessman, just like the car racer who finishes last is a racer.

Gevlon, I never said businessmen had to be skilled. The REAL difference between businessmen and employees is that a businessman creates something despite personal risk. Your raiders don't create anything, and by your own indication would not even successfully exist without your constant hand-holding. YOU are the businessman, THEY are your commission-based employees. If a telemarketer makes mistakes, slacks off, falls asleep (e.g. D/C), and otherwise make no sales, they don't get paid. Do you consider telemarketers working the phone-farms businessmen?

If your definition of businessmen is anyone who potentially risks their time/gold on a venture, WoW is populated only by businessmen. The LFD tool should be renamed "Looking For Businessmen," amirite?

Being a businessman and a leader go hand-in-hand: both take a willingness to be first. The people who START pugs are businessmen; the people who JOIN pugs are employees looking to get paid. The person who STARTS a guild and/or GMs it, and the raid leaders who get the raid together are businessmen; the people who sign up and join a raid are employees.

Anything else is Ayn Rand heroic fantasy social nonsense.

P.S. As others have pointed out, (American) businessmen aren't particularly responsible for anything. The word you were probably imagining was entrepreneur, not "businessman."

Incidentally, your raiders are absolutely NOT entrepreneurs either.