Building a Better Guild – A Tunnel Approach

In his book Building A Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance, Kelly Starrett refers to movements as going through a tunnel. He explains when someone goes through the tunnel their starting position is the start of the tunnel, the movement occurs (going through the tunnel), and the ending position is the end of the tunnel. To properly go through the tunnel, the starting position must be proper in the aspects of form and tension to protect athletes from injury. This same methodology can be used when building guild membership as we will see below.

When discussing guild member progression, three main points make up the tunnel approach:
  1. The start of the tunnel occurs when a potential recruit identifies with the guild and chooses to actively want to join the guild.
  2. Movement through the tunnel occurs as a guild member actively participates with the guild.
  3. The end of the tunnel occurs when a member has gained enough experience to become part of the guild’s leadership and guide others.
Three important questions make up an approach to tackle this methodology with any guild or community:
  1. How are we ensuring the proper starting position for new members?
  2. Are guild members progressing and flourishing in the guild?
  3. Are guild leaders in the proper position to lead when given the opportunity?
Entering the Tunnel

When entering the tunnel, it is important that all information pertaining membership is available to the recruit. This is often a guild charter setting the requirements and expectations of members. All guilds should have a publically displayed charter clearly identifying policies and procedures, while leaving little room to the imagination.

Coupled with this charter should be an active orientation program that leads new recruits once accepted through a step-by-step ramp up program. As many players already have experience in guilds, most will quickly adapt to a new guild. This does not mean the ramp-up program should be simplified. On the contrary, not including the most basic of steps can be detrimental for even experienced players.

Guilds should develop a program ensuring the start of the tunnel will allow members to flourish. The program should also include progress checkpoints to evaluate participation and motivation. Truth be told, not everyone joins a guild to be an active participant. Some may join simply to stay with friends from previous games, and some may have devious intentions to gain information for outside gaming entities. Whatever the motivations, progression checkpoints give guild leadership a tool with which to judge new member activity.

Moving Through the Tunnel – Early Exit or Continuing towards Leadership

After reaching milestones proving the new member is committed to the guild and a competent player, focus is shifted to continuing progression and improvement. Encouraging participation and scheduling events is often the primary method of keeping guild members interested. Games themselves provide this medium and guild leaders should use games as a tool to judge continued improvement. Any guild member who believes they are beyond improvement should be watched closely, as they may distract others from improving. No player is perfect, and those who are extremely competent should be helping those who may be struggling. Creating a system to allow this type of mentorship is highly advisable.

Not all members will vie for continuation past this point towards guild leadership. That should not be discouraged – leaders need followers to accomplish goals set by the guild. Those who wish to leave the tunnel early and make their end point as a regular member should be continually encouraged to participate in the community. They should be trained and molded along with those actively seeking leadership positions to ensure the ability to take on a spontaneous role in games when needed.

The Light at the End - Leadership Roles

Because of the approach ensuring a solid start to membership, players with high aptitude rise to the top of the general membership as they progress in their abilities. The solid foundation built during the start, continuing on through general membership and general leadership training ensure those chosen for leadership positions will continue to be a productive member, and not get to the top and find themselves without motivation. One of the most dangerous types of players in a guild or community is one in a stagnated leadership position.
Games generally run their course from six months to multiple years. During this time, it is often appropriate to move members in and out of leadership positions to ensure they get back in the tunnel. This keeps the ideas and communication fresh and exciting, and shows to the rest of the community the continuing product of the tunnel started during recruitment. Many communities do this through elections, others through forced changes, but whatever the methodology, allowing as many people as possible into positions of responsibility keeps motivation high.

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