Moneyball in Space
Posted by Corelin
Goons published their latest CEO Update on TM.com today. There’s a lot in it that will raise eyebrows (one or both) including: Free carriers, a rundown of who is doing what to who and where, and hints at a full-out DREAD giveaway which would be quite a windfall for the CFC folks.
What struck me was a little throwaway bit at the very bottom:
We do not do things that way: any alliance admitted to the CFC will understand our focus on both offensive war and metrics to prove collective effort.
This was what really raised my eyebrow, especially as it was thrown in with talking about recruiting newer alliances to CFC. It brought me back to some musings I’ve had on how an Alliance so publicly and self-admittedly bad could be so GOOD at what mattered in the game.
Short version? People like winning. Goons have isolated the “winning” elements on a strategic level and devoted themselves to it.
Long version incoming so settle in or X out. There’s two kinds of winning, tactical and strategic. Alliances like R&K and old-skool PL¹ had isolated the surprise + leadership = victory core of tactical winning. They used tactics their enemies couldn’t respond to to score hard fought but surprisingly bloodless victories, and pumped up their members by trumpeting their wins to the high heavens, while brushing off their losses with their ability to replace ships themselves. They keep themselves lean, because that lies at the core of tactical brilliance, but they alone aren’t a threat to take and hold sov, they don’t have the raw mass required to weight the scales in a mass war.
Strategic Victory in EvE requires an ability to set your nose to the grindstone on two scales. Leaders must bear an incredible weight, both leading and managing their alliance, and the rank and file have to respond to their leaders, be active and take part. This requires something more than killboard l33tness, which is a good thing as Goonswarm’s 68.48% on EvE-kill is rather… bad as PvP alliances goes. Yet Goonswarm Federation leads the most powerful coalition, with the most valuable nullsec space, in EvE. How does such a bad alliance get to hold this position? Leadership and determination.
Now how do you rate that? Because clearly killboard efficiency doesn’t quite catch it. So let’s dig in and catch some glimpses. Goons use the term “Metrics” quite a bit so let’s start our search there (from http://www.businessdictionary.com)
Metrics: Standards of measurement by which efficiency, performance, progress, or quality of a plan, process, or product can be assessed.
So a metric to Goons is a tool that allows them to measure the effectiveness of a sub-unit. They don’t hand out directorships to that cool guy who shows up all the time. Nor do they ally themselves with people who consistently underperform by their standards. Now to be a true “Metric” Goonswarm has to set up standards which are quantifiable, that is, they can be measured objectively, they have to be relevant to whatever they are trying to measure, and they have to be capable of being scaled for large and small entities.
So Goonswarm leadership has set up two sets of Metrics, one for leadership, to determine who can generate the best quality and quantity of useful “Leadership” and they have applied this to themselves and to their minions, I’m not sure where to begin on this. Certainly revenue is important, driving participation is important, and filling the markets is important. What else is important and how it is generated, measured, and compared is beyond me. There’s a reason I fly in fleets rather than lead them.
The other set is for members as a group. I’m even less certain how this is measured, what it measures and how it it is applied internally and externally is frankly outside of my horizon. Clearly efficiency isn’t that big. Raw participation has to be a factor, as well as both unique members joining fleets, and how often each person joins said fleets will likely be a factor, who brings what, what they lose etc, but how is it measured and evaluated? What are the standards?
Moneyball was a book written in 2003 about the revolutionary new way of thinking that the Oakland A’s had been doing for a few years. Rather than looking mostly at “counting” stats, especially ones like Steals, RBIs, and Strikeouts for hitters, which often didn’t have as much impact as conventional wisdom would lead one to believe. Instead the A’s went with “rate stats” focusing in on new stats generated by the SABR community, which served as indicators of overall contribution, like OPS (On Base Plus Slugging) for hitters and ERA+ for pitchers, or simply stats like VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) for anyone. This gave them a competitive advantage over other teams over the course of a season, as they could find bargains on players who weren’t highly regarded, but generated wins. Most leaders in EvE are the old-skool types. They equate pure l33t PVPness as espoused by killboard stats, big shiny fleets and vaunted FCs as the be all and end all of EvE success. The new leaders in the game are people who have cut away the traditional stats, and look for what wins.
By creating their own metrics, the Goons have done what SABR did for statistics. Creating their own methods of reporting information gathered, and doing so in a way that contributes to the overall success of their coalition. Moreover they have done what Billy Beane did for the A’s, by using those stats to build both an alliance that wins, and train other alliances to contribute as part of their “team.” Goons were successful before OTEC. Sure their current success is greatly aided by Tech, but they didn’t get Tech to get successful, they got successful to get Tech.
¹New-Skool PL manages to do both with rather admirable success.