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 Post subject: Preventing 'Lost' Officers .
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 5:48 pm 
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“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics”. - Benjamin Disraeli (1804 - 1881)

“Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. (Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.)” - Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)


Well put sentiments, by two intelligent men.

Unfortunately,the following post contains statistics.

These statistics are based on factual collections of Data - stored at the ACWGC Department of Records.

This research has been examined with the quotations above very much to the forefront of the researcher's mind.

It is presented below without bias, criticism or insidious motive.

Facts that emerge during an examination of DoR records, freely available to all ACWGC members, are as they are – unvarnished, unembellished and unambiguously interpreted.

There are further facets of the Topic examined during the research ( to be made available at a later stage in this proposed debate), but to include them all now, would possibly divert or distort attention to the basic premise of this Subject – and possibly bore the pants off any readers, thus discouraging members’ contributions.

The intention of this research is to stimulate debate and for the Cabinet, Commanders of the Armies and the Rank and File of the ACWGC to examine the figures given and to determine a course (if any is deemed necessary) to follow.

As a courtesy – both to myself and the ACWGC membership in its entirety, I would request, enjoin and encourage the CoA’s to deliver a copy of the text below, through their Chains of Command to all Officers in their respective Commands, thus ensuring that the entire Membership is aware of the facts displayed below, with an encouragement to contribute any thoughts or opinions resulting from this information to this thread. Alternatively, I would request that all officers – via the same method – would be sent the address of this thread, with an encouragement to read, consider and digest the contents and again, to contribute in a like manner to the first suggestion in this paragraph.

The address for this Thread is: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=16710

Finally, as to the motivation behind this research – any comment, suggestion or apparent opinion expressed is meant as rhetorical and neutral; as possible directions that subsequent debate could follow.

There is no intent to cause embarrassment, to imply criticism of, to denigrate or to demean any ACWGC members or individuals or groups of individuals, up to and including members of the Cabinet.

My personal input will appear separately and distinctly during the thread.


There are currently 152 active Union Officers and 219 active Confederate Officers in the ACWGC – giving the ACWGC a total membership of 371 active members.
This gives a percentage split between the sides of the Club of 41/59 as USA/CSA.


Since the opening of the DoR –
330 Union Officers and 294 Confederates have ‘fallen’ – left the Club for Retirement, Hospital duties or Leaves of Absence.

Had these ‘lost’ officers remained with the Club: The Union would currently have 482 Active Officers and the CSA would currently have 513 Active Officers.
The ACWGC total membership would then stand at 995 Officers. (Potential Membership Total)

Realistically speaking – the Potential Membership Total is patently an impossible aspiration. No matter how successful any Internet based Club could ever be . . . a 100% retention rate could never be achieved, particularly for a Club with a 10+ year ‘Life’.

However, for the purpose of this research, the Potential Membership Total (+5 extra ‘mythical’ members - for the convenience of rounding the numbers) has been used to determine Member Retention rates following this formula:

(Current Active Members divided by PMT) & multiplied by 100 = Retention Rate of Active ACWGC Members (expressed as a percentage).

This formula results in the following statistics:
The Union holds a Retention Rate of 31.5%. The CSA holds a Retention Rate of 42.7.
The ACWGC as a whole, holds a Membership Retention Rate of 37.1 %

Broken down into simplified (rounded off) numbers and expressed in very general terms, based on the figures given above –

The Club averages are:

Of every 10 Recruits joining the ACWGC that will remain in the Club for an appreciable amount of time ( 2-3 years) - stands at 3 and 3 quarters. (-ish).

Of every 10 Recruits joining the Union, 3 will stay – (almost 1 below the Club average).

Of every 10 Recruits joining the CSA, 4 will stay – (slightly above the Club average).

As an Internet based Games Club . . . a 37% retention rate is quite an achievement . . . . and couldn’t be genuinely complained about - is there a potential for improvement?

And could the disparity between the USA and CSA be resolved?

Although the difference doesn’t appear to be particularly excessive (in actual Lost Officer numbers spanning the service period of the DoR) . . . at 36 more USA than CSA officers leaving the Club,(roughly 10% of ACWGC ‘Lost’ Officers) suggests that either :

i) Some Union Officers are leaving the Club and the records are somehow not accurately reflecting the Rate of ‘Loss’. (unlikely).

OR

ii) The Recruitment Rates (if such were available), for both sides would reflect similar numbers – but in reverse (most likely).

Basically speaking – from the statistics and records available - it is appears that for every 3 CSA Officers recruited to join the ACWGC, 4 USA Officers are recruited.

However, the disparity between the two ‘halves’ of the ACWGC, appears to suggest that whilst the Union are better ACWGC Recruiters – the CSA are better Retainers.

If there was a provable reversal of recruitment numbers as postulated above, combined with the factual numbers of ‘Lost’ Officers, there would exist a 50/50 balance which is not displayed in the active membership of the ACWGC. (Simply put – there would be roughly as many Union members as there are Confederates).

For obvious reasons . . . the Club ‘ideal’ would appear to be a situation where - for every one Union Officer, there would be one CSA Officer . . . and vice versa. A 50/50 split in active member numbers, if You like.

Again, realistically speaking – this is most likely an impossible goal. The Union – for historical and personal preference reasons, would probably hold a continuous ‘edge’, in regard to recruitment.

However, for the ‘Health’ and Continuity, for the Longevity of the ACWGC . . . is it a target that should be aimed towards?

And with these two additional rhetorical questions – I open the Topic to debate.

Can ACWGC Retention statistics be improved?

If the majority opinion is that they can be improved - how can this be best achieved?



Pat.

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 Post subject: Re: Preventing 'Lost' Officers .
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:15 pm 
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Location: Las Cruces, NM USA
I think lost of officers is something that can not be prevented.

The first issue is the literacy of the people joining the club. You have to be interested in the US Civil War, and be a reader. You also have to be computer literate and interested in military simulation. Those qualities are more akin to older generations, not younger, who grew up with in the video/internet age.

So we look at health and age factors for people leaving.

Secondly, people lose jobs and hobbies are thrown aside. People get divorced and go broke. I don't believe I have ever seen a female in the forum or the club. I have only been in a couple of years, so I am sure some have joined, but they are not many. That means we ignoe 50% of the population. My wife plays sims 3, but wouldn't touch a board like wargame in a 100 years. Same for my 27 year old son.

So demographics and the economy hurt us.

The last is the personality issue. People start to feel ignored, picked on, passed over, bullied, etc. They often leave with a last flaming retort, and sometimes just fall off the grid. However, they are gone. You can't ignore that factor.

A quick PS is how many games are being played? I know that some members haven't played for a while. That is also an issue. Can you say you are a member of the US Chess Club Federation when you haven't competed for three years? (If you pay your dues, their answer is yes-mine is no)

Let it quickly be said that good officers (As Joe Meyers continues to preach) makes a hall of a lot of difference.

BG Elkin
3rd Div(2nd Cav)/XVIth Corp AotT

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 Post subject: Re: Preventing 'Lost' Officers .
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:15 pm 
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We have had a few women. One of my first games was against Emily (I forget her last name) in a Tourney and she beat me to a pulp. Found out she was a artillerist in the army. :mrgreen:

But one of the major factors I feel is this economic climate. Once it crashed a light switch went on and people had far too many different focuses.

These places are also notrious revolving doors, so a lot of times people will be gone for a year or three and then resurface.

There are a whole host of retention reasons, but there is no shortage of followers of the games, it is about getting the name out there one way or another. It is also about keeping people excited too. The Club may have lost numbers, but activity has been high with all these Tourney's and both sides & almost all of their armies are in the best shape I have seen them in the 8 years I have been here. Plus the training schools are on the top of their game right now too. So maybe it is a more with less approach.

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 Post subject: Re: Preventing 'Lost' Officers .
PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 12:40 am 
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Posts: 1200
Location: USA
Great questions, Pat.

I think it can be improved, but it is hard to do. It takes having a good level of camaraderie, and that usually means a solid leader and willing participants.

One of our challenges is that the "typical wargamer" is not necessarily your social butterfly! So getting engagement in a cyber atmosphere is not likely to be a strong suit. Typically. ;)

I think the Rebs have done a nice job with some things over the past couple of years, and their retention shows that success. You can probably tie that to a few key individuals. I think Joe Meyers and several others on the Union side are doing some of the same things.

We need to find ways to identify folks who want to get involved earlier in the process - I think perceptions around rank may hinder that - see previous Pat Carroll posts about a Major leading a Corps, etc.

I tend to see "generations" within the Club - folks who came around the same time, or advanced into leadership together, etc. We have to be more deliberate about having the next generation identified, trained and engaged. Also, at the junior most levels, that is where things can be most fractured from a "unit cohesion" standpoint. Finding ways to organize the Armies around those "generational" lines would be beneficial.

Just some thoughts.

Jeff

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 Post subject: Re: Preventing 'Lost' Officers .
PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 1:38 am 
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I feel member retention has a everything to do with individual member involvement, and having the members that form the administrative part of the club continuing to work at creating an environment that welcomes and encourages such involvement. It stands to reason if you feel like you are contributing and are a part of the whole then you are more likely to stay engaged. Involvement can take many forms whether playing the games or organizing a tournament or holding a command position, involvement tends to keep members active, engaged and interested.
Of course we have little control over outside real life occurrences so there will always be a percentage of lost members due to those circumstances no matter what we do.

Speaking mainly regarding the CSA side, as that is what I’m most familiar with, there are several newer members in command positions and also those that have taken on leadership roles outside the formal ranks by managing tournaments, creating news letters and the like which have brought some fresh perspective and energy to the club, this needs to be encouraged on all levels.

This club is truly an all volunteer army, anyone of us can walk away at anytime with little to no repercussions either within or outside the club, there’s not a whole lot in life that you can say that about, this tends to add another layer of difficulty to member retention.

It has always been my belief that this club can not be orchestrated from the top down, what it is and what it has evolved into over the years is the result of all the people that are members and their willingness to be a part of it and make it a part of themselves. There are people maintaining club websites, there are those creating graphic and scenario mods for the games, even those just posting on the various forums, it’s this kind of individual involvement no matter how big or small that makes the whole what it is.

I encourage any and all members whether they have been here 10 years or 10 days to get involved in an area(s) they have an interest in, the club will only be better for it.

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 Post subject: Re: Preventing 'Lost' Officers .
PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 6:32 am 
Very well said Gen. Weir! Spoken like a veteran Confederate officer and Gentlemen.


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 Post subject: Re: Preventing 'Lost' Officers .
PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 7:15 am 
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I've only been here 6 months, so I can give you a new member perspective. As was so eloquently stated above, involvment is the key. The training programs in place for cadets is a great start, but don't stop there. Keep nurturing the junior officers in your command, whether it be through MP games, tournament participation, etc.

Overall, I think you guys are doing a great job, keep up the good work.

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 Post subject: Re: Preventing 'Lost' Officers .
PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:23 am 
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I agree with the fact that you need to find enough leaders to fulfill a small unit cohesion factor - whether that is at Division or Corps level in this Club is debateable, I think. Sometimes Div is too small, and we don't have enough folks to fill them (well). Corps is more likely, but the span is sometimes problematic at being in constant contact.

I also think much of the CSA's recent success is in their continued Cadet training programs and involvement. If you can keep someone around through the first 6 months, you've probably got the best retention possible. After a certain point, it will become up to the individual and their interest level/life circumstances.

So main things to consider - OOB structure. We have historically tended to be tied to Civil War OOB structure, but maybe we could structure better by having slightly bigger Divisions, fewer Corps and Armies. Consolidate your leaders more, less overhead. I'd eliminate Theater Commanders altogether.

Second - Requirement for training AFTER VMI/UMA stage. It's important to get folks in to the Club quickly, then keep them involved. so not longer initial training, keep that fast, but have punch cards for new folks - MP game, Full Campaign, Complete a Maneuver, etc. Tie it to making Brigadier General or something along those lines.

Third - We need to identify willing leaders faster, earlier, and more frequently. Rank is not a reliable indicator of leadership potential around here. Need a way to do that, looking for ideas there.

Those would be major shifts from how the Club has been operating, thoughts on that?

Also, it always comes doen to the people

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 Post subject: Re: Preventing 'Lost' Officers .
PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:32 am 
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I do not think the proposals made By Jeff are MAJOR shifts, but are attitudinal shifts that can be put into place without there being very much effort, especially the second proposal of a step-by-step escalation for advanced promotion has merit and would warrant some further discussions.

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 Post subject: Re: Preventing 'Lost' Officers .
PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:12 am 
laubster22 wrote:
So main things to consider - OOB structure. We have historically tended to be tied to Civil War OOB structure, but maybe we could structure better by having slightly bigger Divisions, fewer Corps and Armies. Consolidate your leaders more, less overhead. I'd eliminate Theater Commanders altogether.


I am not sure what is in the water these last few weeks but I find myself in full agreement with Jeff again! If Pat agrees with this than were in real trouble!

I believe it all comes down to solid leadership from Club veterans. When I joined I learned an incredible amount from veterans serving on all different levels of the Club. Some were ACs and others BCs but all were leaders in some way. I also had a fantastic DC in Hampus Drott who remains one of my most cherished friends in the Club. He and I started out together to make the Division more exciting and, along the way, we rode up the chain of command to where I am now the AC and he is one of my CCs!

Finding good leaders is the key in the Club. Before Roger left I asked him why the AotM had only 2 Corps and the other Armies 3 Corps. He told me it was better to have fewer units with more solid leaders than more units with less solid leaders. That has always stuck with me and the AotM remains a two Corps unit with solid leadership.

Getting rid of Theater Commanders is definately something that should be considered. Having to "use" 2 - 4 volunteers (including CoS and Adjutants) on both sides to, essentially, consolidate two reports into one seems like a waste of manpower. TCs also (in the CSA) distribute points in the DoR but this can easily be done by the individual ACs and/or their CoS.


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 Post subject: Re: Preventing 'Lost' Officers .
PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:33 am 
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I think that the club has evolved admirably. The building up of the 2 Schools for new member training and indoctrination has helped enormously. There is now a strong culture in getting new members involved. This is all good and kudos to those that participate.

I also believe that fewer well run units are better than a lot of poorly run units. That might the ideal solution but perhaps not the practical one. A potential problem with fewer command positions would be that the potential stars might not have a chance to try the job with few opening available and therefore be left behind and leave. The point I am trying to make is that the large structure makes it easier to become a Commander and to give it a try. Some are not so good others are. The current structure does allow for a 'look' at the potentials and the good ones will gravitate up (usually).

Participation in the club is the key to longevity. If you are part of the organization and involved in other areas besides gaming then you will probably stay a lot longer. The club is less about gaming then a social structure.

Reducing the social structure (number of command positions) might not achieve the overall goals of retention. I always try to keep in mind that you cannot only have stars on a team you need all kinds to be successful. Being able to evaluate the current command positions and trying to better instruct or mentor them is the key I think such as is the case with new members and the schools. Less positions might reduce the overall participation and retention.

That being said I do see a small rationalization of the command structure could be needed. However the many positions do allow for a lot of people to participate which is the good thing. Eliminating a position does not mean that the person who occupied it would want to go somewhere else.

The advantage of small divisions is that there are fewer people to deal with on an individual command basis but a lot of layers. Which one is better? Big divisions or small command and more layers.

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 Post subject: Re: Preventing 'Lost' Officers .
PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 2:41 pm 
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Excellent points, Pierre.

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 Post subject: Re: Preventing 'Lost' Officers .
PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 1:10 pm 
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I think the current number of divisions on each side are spread too thin. Low manpower in a lot of cases....

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