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Elimrawne1982
30-01-2008, 00:40
While wondering if it wasn't a bit impudent to start a thread on my first day as an active user, i just thought this bit too interesting not to be passed on: In an article titled "The lofty view from Davos could just be a mirage", the Financial Times deals with managers out of touch with the realities of their companies - and uses GW ex-CEO Tom Kirby as an example:


Why did Tom Kirby, former Games Workshop chief executive, seeking to explain away poor figures last week, have to tell investors: "I'm sorry we have not done as well as we should the past two years. We grew fat and lazy on the back of easy success." Why was no early warning signal reaching him from the shop-floor?

Most of us want to climb the career ladder. Natural born leaders will force their way to the top. But there is danger in that ascent. And, as we all know, the higher a monkey climbs . . . the easier it is for the vet to carry out an intimate examination.

Pretty telling, especially in the light of some recent developments, isn't it ?

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5e77e9ee-ce0e-11dc-9e4e-000077b07658.html

PotatoLegs
30-01-2008, 00:49
It actually seems pretty honest as far as CEOs go. You should see the spin our telecommunications CEOS try to feed us here, its absolutely ludicrous. If Tom Kirby's actually admitting there's a stuff up, he's basically telling his investors GWs taking steps to rectify the problem

Misfratz
30-01-2008, 06:17
It's not honest potato dude, it merely avoids appearing so delusional that the shareholders force him out. He had no choice. It was in the earlier years, when Kirby was insisting that the situation was under control and normal growth would soon reassert itself (it still hasn't), that his disconnect from reality, manifests itself.

This is not so much a case of dishonesty as simply "wishing for the best" and an inability to look at the detailed numbers - which must have shown severe weakness in the sales of 40K and Fantasy (given the success of LotR).

OrlyggJafnakol
30-01-2008, 06:52
How much of the current economic situation that GW finds itself in is the result of the slow down of high street sales? This is a world-wide phenomenon. GW are very high street orientated and will have been effected accordingly. I am not defending the descisions made by GW management in any way, but how deeply are modern external factors effecting the company that shareholders are more than aware of?

Bregalad
30-01-2008, 08:42
Maybe three price hikes last year while focussing on poor kids as the main consumer target helps in explaining the loss in turnover ;)
But there seems to be a GW tradition of being out of touch with the customers (see BI thread).

Osbad
30-01-2008, 08:49
The key point for me is the phrase, in respect of skepticism towards Kirby's announcement:

"Why was no early warning signal reaching him from the shop-floor?"

I have read many an interesting rant on Warseer and elsewhere from ex-staff complaining that when they had interesting and important messages that should have been transmitted up the way, they were stifled and blocked by their supervisors and middle managers because those middle managers didn't want to "rock the boat". Now they could all be exaggerating, suffering from sour grapes and making it up, but the stories keep appearing and there's no smoke without fire as they say...

The reason that there was no early warning signal reaching him was because there wasn't a culture in GW (and still isn't as far as I can ascertain) that allowed warning signals to be sent.

And the whole "GW management culture" is the problem. The new guy as well as plugging the operational leaks, needs to get senior management to pull their heads out of their behinds and find out what is happening at the coal face rather than sitting in the comfortable offices playing with spreadsheets.

If they'd had an atmosphere that encouraged "upwards information transmission" back in 2004 then they would have realised that the LotR bubble was ending sooner than they had anticipated and they'd better alter their plans. Instead they ignored the warning signs (or didn't even hear them) coming from the shop floor and ploughed ahead spending money that was never going to materialise.

Brushmonkey
30-01-2008, 12:07
I have read many an interesting rant on Warseer and elsewhere from ex-staff complaining that when they had interesting and important messages that should have been transmitted up the way, they were stifled and blocked by their supervisors and middle managers because those middle managers didn't want to "rock the boat". Now they could all be exaggerating, suffering from sour grapes and making it up, but the stories keep appearing and there's no smoke without fire as they say...


Completely true sadly. If you are not a 'yes-man', then you have no future in the company. Anything that was suggested that didn't paint GW in the rosiest light was quashed. Still is.

Its fortunate that most staff and a growing number of customers just don't care any more, or the "WE TOLD YOU SO", would be deafening.

GAWD
30-01-2008, 12:50
The key point for me is the phrase, in respect of skepticism towards Kirby's announcement:

"Why was no early warning signal reaching him from the shop-floor?"

I have read many an interesting rant on Warseer and elsewhere from ex-staff complaining that when they had interesting and important messages that should have been transmitted up the way, they were stifled and blocked by their supervisors and middle managers because those middle managers didn't want to "rock the boat". Now they could all be exaggerating, suffering from sour grapes and making it up, but the stories keep appearing and there's no smoke without fire as they say...

Spot on Osbad ...

I'm reminded of two incidents in the history of these forums.

1. Gav Thorpe posted on some rules issues and misconceptions we have of the company a couple years back. Finally having GW ear, we naturally engage him in what I'd affectionately call a "roundtable" discussion. ;)

Absolutely NOTHING came of this talk. He and the phalanx of fanbois defended every nook and cranny of GW's business.

2. Just a couple of weeks ago Exquisite Evil was finally able to get his hands on one of Kirby's Little Red Books (what a deluded megalomaniac to think that his little ****-ant game company even needed a secret Maoist manual ... but I digress).

After sharing some info and getting a discussion started, warseer deleted the thread and soon banned EE (don't know the specifics of why), one of the most active and long-time warseer posters (a nice move on warseer's part .... always willing to scratch the back of the company that keeps them going and holds them to the IP knife all at the same time).

Osbad
30-01-2008, 12:57
After sharing some info and getting a discussion started, warseer deleted the thread and soon banned EE (don't know the specifics of why), one of the most active and long-time warseer posters (a nice move on warseer's part .... always willing to scratch the back of the company that keeps them going and holds them to the IP knife all at the same time).

EE was banned was he? Holy frack! What the heck for? He was an interesting poster and not rude or anything.

And you're right about the LRB. They are the deluded outpourings of a megalomaniac if ever I saw them! If my boss ever wrote anything so full of it we'd just laugh him out of existence!

To my mind Kirby completely overcomlicated the GW business model because he was/is so totally out of touch with the punters. GW may indeed be a "Niche market" but people are people. Making a success out of ANY business long term relies on making your quality as high as possible and keeping your price as low as possible. And of course not forgetting that the people who define what price and what quality is "acceptable" is the CUSTOMER, not the blokes in grey suits who get paid to nod and smile every time the CEO breaks wind!

For instance GW have recently improved their antiquated plstics technology so they can noe cram more gubbins on a sprue. Which is all to the good, but the way they have taken it is to cram, as a rule, more useless optional junk on a sprue instead of extra whole models. I don't know anyone (although I'm sure there are probably a few on here who will now pop up and tell me so) that wouldn't prefer an extra couple of complete models in the box set instead of a half-dozen spare stick-on skulls, feathers and what have you.

Just an example, and probably not a very good one.

GAWD
30-01-2008, 13:03
We're supposed to direct those sort of queries to the warseer helpdesk, but I'll save you the trouble. They don't disclose the reason why people are banned ... bad blood and all.

To stay on topic so that this thread doesn't get deleted or locked...

I think the Financial Times is trying to say that Tom Kirby should be banned from leading GW. ;)

GAWD
30-01-2008, 13:19
Yep ... I was discussing the very same thing about the plastic sets some w/friends of mine recently.

They're cool and all, but I really just need the armament options and MORE MODELS to thereby lower the cost per model.

I really think the company would have been better off to avoid it's thirst for all plastic production and grow more slowly.

Ray_Bones
30-01-2008, 13:33
One of the issues with Kirby and GW that I see is one I frequently run across in business today. People get promoted well beyond their capabilities. It happens all the time. You get a person in the right place at the right time, for example as a new product/business really begins to take off, and that person, regardless of true qualifications gets all the credit for the success. It's in situations like these that we see damn good engineers/salespersons/ or even game designers get moved into business management positions.

Allow me to soapbox for just a minute. Managing a business, particularly a large one like GW, is a beast of a different nature. Just because you were a very good engineer/salesperson/(fill in the title) does not always translate into a good manager. The skills and abilities needed to really manage a large corporation are different and much more challenging than coming up with a new product or selling said product. Again, when you happen to be in the right place at the right time, regardless of if you can do the job, you might be given the job of CEO/COO/ and so on.

To me, this is part of GW's problem. They are not a small time game/model maker. They have to operate in a sea of challanges and complications (just think of the bueraucracy in any company, much less a large one) and the right kind of manager may not be the guy(s) that designed the game or the models.

Bloodknight
30-01-2008, 13:41
I guess they were right: everybody gets promoted up to one step beyond their capabilities and then they stay there. ;)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Principle

Gaebriel
30-01-2008, 14:55
EE was banned was he? Holy frack! What the heck for? He was an interesting poster and not rude or anything.
...
He went in a little hotheaded that week, and last thing I know was him posting scans of pages from the book.

But nothing that I would think would have justified a permanent ban, unless he already had a couple of strikes or repeatedly ignored the inquisition that week.

Upon inquiring the Inquistion I was told they wouldn't talk about the reason of a banning except to the poster banned - fair enough I think. (But not that satisfying answer...)

Jedi152
30-01-2008, 15:09
The major problem here seems to be yes-men keen on massaging Kirby's ego. As he stated in his little red book, anyone who doesn't 'fit in with GW' (i.e. anyone who doesn't smile, nod and say 'great idea sir!' whenever anyone above them comes up with something) will be dropped, regardless of sales figures and the like.

As i have said a few times before, GW has a major image problem. The staff at all levels (shop floor staff seem to be least affected) seem snooty, cliquey and secretive, web moderators on official forums more so. They seem to take pleasure in belittling gamers by demanding websites take down pictures that they deem you're not good enough to see. GW needs to be more honest and open and approachable.

Why not be more open about things like new releases and rules FAQ's? Why not go to conventions with pre-release boxes like they do for GD? What's wrong with having open rules forums to take suggestions and criticisms?

Many wargamers and people 'in the know' won't go near them with a bargepole, and their own veterans are starting to resent them through ill treatment. New starters can just as easily be put off by high prices and over-pushy sales staff desperate to fit unrealistic sales targets. If people think they are getting value for money and a great experience from the companies representatives and contact points they will be happy to stump up the cash.

Someone needs to shake up the company, or it will crash, possibly even within the next year or two. They need fresh blood, and a cold clinical mind - hopefully the new guy is the man to do it (didn't he revamp Boots or something?). If BI and bitz-orders are some of the sacrifices that must be made to save the company then so be it.

We'll know soon enough.

Elimrawne1982
30-01-2008, 15:37
What, if i may ask, is that little red book that you are all referring to ? Something in the vein of "The Ten Commandments of good business according to the Glorious Chairman Tom Kirby" ?

Llew
30-01-2008, 15:40
Short version: The Little Red Book is a set of guidelines and semi-secret advice for high-mid to upper level (?) managers of GW. From what little we've seen, it seems to be business ideas written from the perspective of a gamer who thought that being able to have his character rule a wildy successful benevolent dictatorship in a RPG actually counted as real-world leadership experience.

Elimrawne1982
30-01-2008, 15:54
Someone needs to shake up the company, or it will crash, possibly even in the next year or two. They need fresh blood, and a cold clinical mind - hopefully the new guy is the man to do it (didn't he revamp Boots or something?). If BI and bitz-orders are some of the sacrifices that must be made to save the company then so be it.

We'll know soon enough.

I would completely second that, assuming that those moves actually help. However, while i understand the mail order restructuring, i did not like that BI decision at all. I am not so naive as to assume that all a wargaming company needs to do is cater to their customer's every whim regardless of whether they make money or not. However, the way they axed BI seems to suggest that they are either stupid, or liars, to put it in the simplest possible way. Either they had really planned it before the release of DH, in which case it might have been a good idea to actually tell their customers that the system they were about to buy would not be supported beyond those books already in the pipeline. Though damaging in the short term, since it would probably have decreased sales, it would nevertheless have gone a long way towards saving at least some customer confidence.
Or, their thinking was "let's see how DH does before we do anything". But this would mean that their thinking must actually have gone like this: "Wow...that new book is doing great....let's see if people are willing to fork out the same amount of money for more space marines and some C.S. Goto if we stop producing it"
Even though good may yet come of it, as it stands right now, it seems more of a poorly communicated desperation move to please shareholders (which, apperently, it did) than a sensible long-term decision.


Short version: The Little Red Book is a set of guidelines and semi-secret advice for high-mid to upper level (?) managers of GW. From what little we've seen, it seems to be business ideas written from the perspective of a gamer who thought that being able to have his character rule a wildy successful benevolent dictatorship in a RPG actually counted as real-world leadership experience.

Just...wow :wtf: So, i suppose that asking for some source will probaly not endear me to the Inquisition, will it ?

Gaebriel
30-01-2008, 16:12
...
Someone needs to shake up the company, or it will crash, possibly even within the next year or two. They need fresh blood, and a cold clinical mind - hopefully the new guy is the man to do it (didn't he revamp Boots or something?). If BI and bitz-orders are some of the sacrifices that must be made to save the company then so be it.

We'll know soon enough.
I guess the closure of BI was a planned move, regardless of how the RPG would have done. Justification for the move would have been the elimination of an asset that would (from an econimist view point) probably be a risk factor - and regardless of how much the RPG made now that is not to be said about the future (disclaimer : we know that it might have taken off, but the businessman on the street just sees a somewhat obscure side-product of an industry type that's riddled with struggling or failing companies).

That's what I take from the enormous rise in share price that followed the closure of BI. Investors saw a reduction in risk of GW as a whole.

That they didn't announce the closure beforehand has to do with elimination of the risk of too many customers cancelling their buying intent. They prevented a potential loss making incident at a time where every 100k counts and could tip the balance (disclaimer : again sound from a short term economic point of view, even if not overly nice, and a bit damaging long term customer-relations).

Economically, I see decision making that is aimed at saving and stabilizing the boat, that is in more than a shaky position atm, as well as regaining the shareholders confidence. They do this by cannibalizing part of their customer-trust.

My 2 on the economical side of things.

If they have plans and actually can regain their customers trust in the long term is another question, and I'm more than curious about their plans in that regards.

Zink
30-01-2008, 17:27
Just...wow :wtf: So, i suppose that asking for some source will probaly not endear me to the Inquisition, will it ?

There was somebody selling copies of this book on Bartertown not long ago. It's been passed around somewhat and doesn't seem to be any kind of "secret" document. All the stink over it has made me really curious to see what's really in it. I'm going to try and get my hands on one. The people that have read it said there's nothing really incriminating in it. Just not flattering for GW. I was a little shocked to find out that EE was banned too. Not sure what I missed that he did worthy of that.

Andyalloverdaplace
30-01-2008, 17:41
This is actually quite interesting, and this sort of publicity makes one of three things much more likely

a) The current management starts doing things that increase profits (in a market that is generally slowing) or:
b) The board of directors swaps out management for someone who will.
c) The company goes into bankrupcy while re-organizing itself to actually function.

The big one (methinks) is that I can forsee a lot more of GW store closures (since the inventory there is held on the books as GW property, and they must have a lot of cash tied up in that). If sales are falling then this is a portion that isn't really core.

Keep in mind though, whoever they bring in may not be an improvement, since one way to increase profits (short term at least) is to slash budgets for such non-essentials as R&D. They might just wind up boosting the profits long enough for people to get out, then fold the company.

escobar
30-01-2008, 18:35
once again I think Osbad has hit the nail on the head - this is a problem with the whole management culture of games workshop.

There just seems to be no coherent focused effort on the customer, which I think is shocking in this day and age. For a company that is going on about being a niche market and selling a hobby you would expect an intimate relationship with their customers.

Maybe Mark Wells can change the culture around but I think he faces a real challenge -
Things like strong feedback channels from the shop floor, clarity around different segments and their impact on product, harnessing the pro-am community, games design and development focused around meeting customer needs, not on the internal benefits.

I either see a change management programme soon or frantic cost cutting and releasing assets...

.. which will it be i wonder.

*edit *

andyallovertheplace - is there any R&D at GW?

MadDogMike
30-01-2008, 18:39
That they didn't announce the closure beforehand has to do with elimination of the risk of too many customers cancelling their buying intent. They prevented a potential loss making incident at a time where every 100k counts and could tip the balance (disclaimer : again sound from a short term economic point of view, even if not overly nice, and a bit damaging long term customer-relations).

Economically, I see decision making that is aimed at saving and stabilizing the boat, that is in more than a shaky position atm, as well as regaining the shareholders confidence. They do this by cannibalizing part of their customer-trust.

Honestly one thing that begs the question for me though is, if they knew they were going to close the RPG end of things, why on Earth do you announce it right now when it's only really taking effect in September? I admit I'm not understanding all the subtleties of GW's business cycle or British finances, but I don't think there's some special time involved with now that makes it especially helpful (i.e. not an end of quarter or something where it makes the books look better to say it now instead of later), is there? If you delayed the announcement you would probably have done less damage to fan goodwill, especially since they'd be somewhat more able to believe "not profitable enough" a few months post-release (wouldn't even have to lie probably depending on how you present the situation). Doing it now when the only evidence people can see is that it's a great release just makes you look stupid, especially when the announced reason of investing in BL makes no sense. I don't see what the business logic is in making such an announcement immediately after a sell-out opening, which makes me suspicious that the main motivation isn't good business but something else.

Gaebriel
30-01-2008, 18:53
Honestly one thing that begs the question for me though is, if they knew they were going to close the RPG end of things, why on Earth do you announce it right now when it's only really taking effect in September?
...
The only idea I have is that now is when they wanted to regain the shareholder's trust. It seems like the earliest possible moment without jeopardizing sales of the finished product.

There is still the possibility that the closure of BI is an act of Mr Wells to announce his willingness to use exceptionally measures - something along the line of sacrificing a pawn...

But well, everything's speculation ;)

I can see them licensing out the RPG, though perhaps at a moment when GW regained momentum so to increase the sum they could ask for the license.

selfconstrukt
30-01-2008, 19:21
The key point for me is the phrase, in respect of skepticism towards Kirby's announcement:

"Why was no early warning signal reaching him from the shop-floor?"

Yeah, no signal reached him. Its not that there were no signals...


I have read many an interesting rant on Warseer and elsewhere from ex-staff complaining that when they had interesting and important messages that should have been transmitted up the way, they were stifled and blocked by their supervisors and middle managers because those middle managers didn't want to "rock the boat". Now they could all be exaggerating, suffering from sour grapes and making it up, but the stories keep appearing and there's no smoke without fire as they say...

At GW in particular, those supervisors and managers are usually the ones responsible for the problem to begin with, so they are really just protecting themselves and their paycheck by not allowing the message to go up the line....and the one complaining usually gets sacked shortly after.


The reason that there was no early warning signal reaching him was because there wasn't a culture in GW (and still isn't as far as I can ascertain) that allowed warning signals to be sent.

BINGO! You hit the nail on the head. TK does not make all the decisions. He gets the company going in a general direction, and its up to the managers and supervisors to carry that out. Thats where GW is failing, not really TK's fault per se but the managers he puts in charge, and many of those managers are not qualified or competent enough to be in their position.


If they'd had an atmosphere that encouraged "upwards information transmission" back in 2004 then they would have realised that the LotR bubble was ending sooner than they had anticipated and they'd better alter their plans. Instead they ignored the warning signs (or didn't even hear them) coming from the shop floor and ploughed ahead spending money that was never going to materialise.

They did realize the bubble was bursting, and here is exactly what one of my old managers told me about the slow sales:

him "Don't worry about it, it'll pick up."
me "Why? What is going to make it "get better" and get people to buy it at this price"
him "Because we make the best toy soldiers in the world, and people will buy from us. Its our belief that every young boy should play with and collect toy soldiers and we will introduce them to the hobby through LOTR"
me "Umm, OK. I guess I won't panic then"

Talk about being in denial.

I knew he was full of it, but as many have said here "You have to drink the Kool-aid"

Huw_Dawson
30-01-2008, 20:22
I personally agree that there is a critical link in middle management that appears to be lacking in GW. Mostly its a problem of being promoted beyond their worth - Wells should analyse the skills of his middle management (Who he should know decently well, being head of Sales for a time) and fire those who do not fit the requirements... then go on a headhunting mission throughout the economics/buisness university graduates, etc.

- Huw

BrainFireBob
30-01-2008, 20:29
Osbad- EE's original post was quoted on Dakka. I believe you commented there. EE was an amusing poster- he also had an axe to grind with GW. The LRB has standard business policies listed- I think you yourself commented on it on Dakka. Niche market=relatively insensitive to macro-economic trends, selling to a distinct, "special" segment of the general population (goes with a niche market), that kind of thing.

People with no grasp of standard business procedure nor prior exposure to that kind of thing spun it in the worst possible way, including EE.

GW misjudged two lines: Where "relatively" no longer applies, and to what degree employees should fit in.

As I recall, the exact wording was something about needing to be a good fit with GW- again, standard business thinking (divisive workplaces don't work), but it has been functionally over-applied at GW into a yes-man culture. Belief in the product has been supplanted by belief in the superiority of the product being able to carry them. However, the "GW=teh devil" misinterpreted the remarks. Check the original post on Dakka.

Jon_Irenicus
30-01-2008, 20:49
Too bad about EE...

And too bad about GW, too. I frankly can't see it getting "better", unless they start backing up their games seriously, if reducing the prices is too much for them.

I mean, a couple of FAQs, some previews, a small department responsible for scrying the web and compiling data. The latest trends, etc., could be a nice starting point. Tom Kirby must've been consulting a fortune-teller or an astrologist - I mean, didn't he look at the figures? At the general numbers? It doesn't take much more than a brainwave to see that something is not right. It is his fault - for putting unreliable managers where they were, and for ineptitude and lazyness regarding the company.

That, or he had another plan which involved nearly taking GW down. Namely stock.

Emperor's Grace
30-01-2008, 21:27
That they didn't announce the closure beforehand has to do with elimination of the risk of too many customers cancelling their buying intent.

Though it probably isn't the greatest move for your trade sale relations when you cancel a line just after the distributors/retailers buy it but before the customer does.

Imus
30-01-2008, 22:05
Though it probably isn't the greatest move for your trade sale relations when you cancel a line just after the distributors/retailers buy it but before the customer does.

indeed doesn't exactly promote confidence.


this situation vagely reminds of what went on when GW decided to implement there key timer policy while also stream lining other areas.. There was alot of re arranging in middle management and the 'yes' men were kept and others removed. They tried to streamline, but by the sounds of it had no luck.

As Jon_Irenicus said, does it take that many resources (time / money) to release faq's and general odds and sods to keep us the customers slightly happy? Its not asking alot really?

As stated at the present rate i cant see things improving.

Nyarlathotep
30-01-2008, 22:20
I heard if you look in a mirror at midnight on halloween and say "Tom Kirby" 66 times he will appear in the mirror behind you, But if you turn around he kick you in the groin and steal your wallet.

Llew
31-01-2008, 00:50
GW misjudged two lines: Where "relatively" no longer applies, and to what degree employees should fit in.

As I recall, the exact wording was something about needing to be a good fit with GW- again, standard business thinking (divisive workplaces don't work), but it has been functionally over-applied at GW into a yes-man culture. Belief in the product has been supplanted by belief in the superiority of the product being able to carry them. However, the "GW=teh devil" misinterpreted the remarks. Check the original post on Dakka.

Yeah...actually it was something more along the lines of "highly effective people who don't fit with GW are dangerous and should be removed ASAP" that sounded so whacked out. "Dangerous" smacks of paranoia, especially when it's used of highly effective employees.

Overall, the little pieces (and they are small AND I've heard them from other sources before) that I've seen of the text look just like what would be written about a CEO that gets featured in a Financial Times article about out-of-touch CEO's.

Jon_Irenicus
31-01-2008, 01:22
As a company that's supposed to be by gamers, for gamers, they do a terrible job. Armies that go for years without any correction to their Codex, go through editions without a new Codex or an update, that sort of stuff kills any army.

It's no wonder Space Marines are their best-sellers: they got lots of kits in plastic, their sculpts are attractive, and the cost to build an army is lower than most.

Now, on the opposite corner, let's take Dark Eldar: so much time without a rules update or a miniature leaves the army quite dead. Sure, it takes some investment and the profits don't turn up immediately, but the only reason an army isn't popular is due to lack of support from GW, alone. People buy and paint SM because they know they have an army that'll keep getting support until the company goes down.

And the other fact is that GW only thinks of miniatures selling if they have rules support. Some miniatures just sell themselves, no matter the price. Otherwise Forgeworld would've been long out of commission. But they actually sold Death Korps and Elysian Drop Troops, and a lot of them at that, even though the costs were high - each squad was its own reward.

Failing to realise this leads to bad sales, bad sales equate (for GW) not supporting an army because it's a failed investment. I'd be willing to bet that new and well sculpted Dark Eldar would place the army on par with their Eldar counterparts given some time. Likewise, Imperial Guard would be a much more interesting army if the plastic options weren't just Crapachans and Cadians.

Hopefully, the Dark Eldar will get a revamp like the Wood Elves, and I wouldn't think twice about starting a regular army, and if the miniatures were good enough, I'd even start a Wich army. What's stopping me at the moment (and for the last three years) is that the miniatures aren't that good. Sadly, I think that the concept actually has potential. A lot.

Another thing they're missing is the value of purchase. I like to buy something and have the feeling I've been given a treat. I find, for example, the Dire Avengers plastic kit to be a great way to start an army - you get all the options you need and a lot of bits, that combined with a guardian box could even make you an Autarch, for example, or some Warlocks. And the Space Marine Devastators, and the Cadian Heavy Weapons - you can combine unused miniatures and actually have more possibilities in a box than just 5 or so models. At times like that, I'm thinking, "I can get five Lootas in a box, but if I get another box I'll make a ten-ork Loota squad, and I buy a normal ork squad and I'll also have twenty Burnas". Plus the pieces for a Mek, etc, or you get some Ork Bikers and use the Nob torso to create different Nobs and you'll have three or four in no time, enough for a retinue any Warboss should have. That's the kind of thinking that gets me making an army.

And lastly, the paints. Some of them are losing quality. Other people I've known (and me too) wanted to start a Crimson Fist army in the same scheme as the Studio had them. Unfortunately, there wasn't any guide, it was mentioned in a mag that they had used Regal Blue (not dark enough by itself) or Midnight Blue (that gives out a purple-ish tone), and so the interest burned out as people got tired of wasting miniatures trying to get the colors right. That, and the dismal difference in quality between their paints - some of them actually have good coverage, others are just dreadful even with the appropriate undercoat (I'm thinking Skull White and Blood Red, for example). GW could compile all the Heavy Metal painting articles in a book, for example, or cover odd choices. Bob's sick of Black Templars, but showing him a simple-yet-effective way of painting an Imperial Fists might get his brain moving and suddenly he wants an army (I know there's a "How to Paint Space Marines" book, but it should be renamed "How to Paint Ultramarines").

Setting up a plan like this isn't all that hard - they could even do it online. By the way, I'm shocked by how poor GW's sites are. The only thing that might make me visit them is out of curiosity for Black Gobbo. The painting guides are dreadful, the fluff is short, etc.

All in all, their problem is poor management, the rest of the team - sculptors, designers, all the artists - are or seem competent, but no doubt the pressure from the High-Ups massacres their talent. I was looking at White Dwarf 271 (Necron release) and I was amazed that Jes Goodwin's sketches of a Necron Immortal (that looked exactly like the current ones) were made in 1995.

lokigod
31-01-2008, 02:25
I heard if you look in a mirror at midnight on halloween and say "Tom Kirby" 66 times he will appear in the mirror behind you, But if you turn around he kick you in the groin and steal your wallet.

All i can say is LOL and im going to sig. that line:evilgrin:

Jon_Irenicus
31-01-2008, 02:46
BTW, what the hell is this all about?

http://br.advfn.com/p.php?pid=nmona&cb=1201751296&article=24464219&symbol=L^GAW

Oh, and GW's decline (5 year period)

http://br.advfn.com/p.php?pid=staticchart&s=L^GAW&p=8&t=26

Confirm it here

http://br.advfn.com/p.php?pid=nmona&btn=chart_period&qkbtn=&qksymbol=&article=22336232&period=8&dm=0&symbol=

BrainFireBob
31-01-2008, 04:25
Jon-Irenicus:

I believe we've clashed on this before. To claim that support is the only thing that determines an army's popularity is singularly wishful thinking. Elves in space don't have the machismo appeal of superman hero-warriors. To some extent, more support=more popularity, but by your reasoning, people only play SMs because they know, even apparently before they've ever bought a product or know anything about 40K, GW will support it. I'm sorry, but that's inane.

shady
31-01-2008, 07:44
this sort of publicity makes one of three things much more likely

a) The current management starts doing things that increase profits (in a market that is generally slowing) or:
b) The board of directors swaps out management for someone who will.
c) The company goes into bankrupcy while re-organizing itself to actually function.


I doubt the publicity makes anything more likely. The primary issue for management in a public company is shareholder value. The issue for GW is that it was positioned as a high growth stock, which sets expectations around the shares and what the management have to do (I saw someone write elsewhere that going public was a bad thing because it pushed them into having to deliver profits - everyone has to deliver profits, or fund themselves from elsewhere; the issue with going public is that you then have to manage yourself on a particular growth pattern).

Kirby is chairman of the board of directors, I think. More likely when push comes to shove the shareholders elect a new board. They've got new management right now.

I'm not sure what the debt level is, but that would be the main thing that would drive them into administration, not glitches in their revenue curve. Administration would significantly diminish shareholder value - there are lots of steps from here to there - more likely they get bought, or taken back into private ownership, if they can't operate effectively under their current structure.

As a consumer of their product, I'd vote for "can't operate effectively" right now, but what do I know.

Jon_Irenicus
31-01-2008, 09:29
Jon-Irenicus:

I believe we've clashed on this before. To claim that support is the only thing that determines an army's popularity is singularly wishful thinking. Elves in space don't have the machismo appeal of superman hero-warriors. To some extent, more support=more popularity, but by your reasoning, people only play SMs because they know, even apparently before they've ever bought a product or know anything about 40K, GW will support it. I'm sorry, but that's inane.

Obviously there are other factors, the fact that I didn't mention them was it's not company related per se: and you pointed an obvious one. But support goes a long way for people who already know how the company works. That lack of support has stopped me from starting an army before, and the reasons involved, using a little mental power, are probably pretty common.

Assuming that I didn't mention it so I didn't believe it is actually a bit narrowing of the whole idea. Still, though most people here might own a Space Marine army (and generally it was their starting one in 40k) if they stay in the hobby they probably collect more armies.

Would you buy an army that doesn't have updated rules, even though it was popular in the day? No matter how much you might like the army?
Orks (previous to the new Codex) and Dark Eldar pretty much spring to mind, but Witch Hunters and Daemon Hunters too. And to some extent, Guard (the Elysians and the Kriegs aren't cheap).

Besides, this isn't by far a professional evaluation, it's a personal one based on experience, whatever info I collect here and there, and a little common sense. I could be wrong on many accounts.

catbarf
31-01-2008, 10:32
What happened in 2005 that caused the huge drop?

Osbad
31-01-2008, 10:56
What happened in 2005 that caused the huge drop?

GW's published their annual accounts which showed turnover and profits had taken a dive because they were no longer selling the massive numbers of LotR figures they had been doing back when the hype around the films was promoting their sales for them. Up until that point there had been much speculation by the market, and even amongst some senior management that the massive profits they had earned in 2002, 03 and 04 would continue for a couple of years. Instead, 2005 saw a massive reduction in profitability, which continued to the present day, where GW has made an actual loss for three consecutive half-year periods.

There is a lot of discussion of the whys and wherefores here:
http://warseer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=114182

and here:
http://warseer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=114182

and here:
http://warseer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=96317

And many other threads...

Gazak Blacktoof
31-01-2008, 11:01
Yeah, no signal reached him. Its not that there were no signals...



If he were a good CEO, and had looked at the down turn in sales and couldn't see a reason why, he'd have done some investigating of his own. He could have gone to shops, conventions or fan sites and looked at why people were displeased with his company.

Jedi152
31-01-2008, 11:18
Exactly, not just listen to the people around him saying "everything's fine sir!".

My uncle was manager at Rolls Royce on a 6 figure salary. He was considered an exemplary manager for good reason: Whenever somebody came to him with a query or an idea, he'd have no qualms about going to the shop floor and talking to even his lowest staff members to see what they thought and get their feedback on it. If somebody had a problem he'd go down, see them and sort it out personally.

Not quite the same, but i'm convinced the mark of a good manager is someone who knows what's occuring at all levels, and will gladly take on criticisms - not just listening to his lackeys and fellow Gordon Gecko's in his private washroom.

ashc
31-01-2008, 12:21
So Kirby's gone, Wells is in and the brown stuff is still hitting the fan as they desperately cut limbs off of the company in an attempt to keep the rotting head alive.

same old same old isn't it? When someone up top realises they need to regain customer confidence and start listening to the people they are meant to be selling their wares to, then we may start to see progress. Kirby was inept but Wells has a steep hill of his own to climb.

Ash

Wolf Scout Ewan
31-01-2008, 12:31
I remembered something from my time training as a sound tech.

"You are only as good as your last album"

If Kirby was an artist he would be robbie williams. The best thing for everyone if he tendered his resignation and let someone else have a go.

Brother Loki
31-01-2008, 13:25
well, he's resigned as Chief Executive and Mark Wells (former head of sales) has replaced him, but TK's still Chairman of the Board, so whether that will actually change anything significant is anybody's guess.

dabiggrotsboss
31-01-2008, 13:32
Wells is a former shampoo salesman, and a strong indication of what's to come.

So long GW.

John Wayne II
31-01-2008, 13:52
Wells is a former shampoo salesman, and a strong indication of what's to come.

Well, as I hear it he was a very succesful manager at Boots, hardly a "shampoo salesman".



So long GW.

Hardly. GW are not in a good position at the moment but they are hardly going to file for bankruptcy any time soon. I think they will limp on for quite a few years yet.

Bloodknight
31-01-2008, 14:14
Up until that point there had been much speculation by the market, and even amongst some senior management that the massive profits they had earned in 2002, 03 and 04 would continue for a couple of years.

I still wonder how they could think that. This was one of the first things most people I know said: once the movies are all done, this will be over.

A lot of people did not buy anything for the game because we suspected it to get the Necromunda/Gorkamorka/Epic/Gothic - ie no real support after the first wave (but at a greater monetary expense on it than on the other mentioned games) - treatment after the 3 year period because it would not sell too well after that period.

It seems we were wrong about the SG treatment, but right on the economic part. Anecdotal, I know - but still.

Batwings
31-01-2008, 17:06
"I'm convinced the mark of a good manager is someone who knows what's occuring at all levels,"

Tom Kirby visted the GW Design Studio so rarely that when he did put in an appearance it was treated, by the middle management, the same way a Royal visit would have been: lots of frantic cleaning and 'best behaviour' speeches.
Bearing in mind that the Design Studio is on the same exact site as the executive building, it's hardly surprising that GW customers are feeling so disconnected from the company when its executives appear to take such little interest in their key creative asset.

GAWD
31-01-2008, 17:19
What exactly would Kirby have contributed to the group home we affectionately know as design studio? He knows about as much as those dufuses about making games, which is a cumulative jack squat. One more ***** wouldn't have magically transformed a gang of designers that belong on the short bus into a group that can all of sudden tie its own shoes.

yabbadabba
31-01-2008, 17:34
What exactly would Kirby have contributed to the group home we affectionately know as design studio? He knows about as much as those dufuses about making games, which is a cumulative jack squat. One more ***** wouldn't have magically transformed a gang of designers that belong on the short bus into a group that can all of sudden tie its own shoes.

Put in an unnecessarily harsh way, I disagree with your comments. The studio is the one of the key driving areas of the business. Tom knew many of the designers and staff personally as it was the place with the longest serving staff. Any head of any small - medium sized business would take the time to learn how the key parts of his operation were supposed to work. On top of that, any reasonable manager knows what standards of behaviours, working practice he is looking for. If there is poor working practice it is easy to spot the possible symptoms.

If he didn't visit the key parts of his operation on a regular basis to get a better perspective of what was happening, then it is his own stupid fault for believing the incompetant ****** he emplyed as business managers.

Remember the studio is a business as well. In GW it responds to the needs of the sales companies as much as the sales companies "have" to sell what it makes.

GAWD
31-01-2008, 18:00
Sure, my metaphor was harsh ... but it wasn't untrue.

As you say, TK knew them, knew what they were about, etc ... therefore he didn't need to check up on the stuff they were doing. He wouldn't have added anything substantive to the drek they've been shuffling off as game systems. Why? B/c he's of the same mind that they are, which as my prior metaphor suggests, isn't much of a mind at all.

yabbadabba
31-01-2008, 18:12
Sure, my metaphor was harsh ... but it wasn't untrue.

As you say, TK knew them, knew what they were about, etc ... therefore he didn't need to check up on the stuff they were doing. He wouldn't have added anything substantive to the drek they've been shuffling off as game systems. Why? B/c he's of the same mind that they are, which as my prior metaphor suggests, isn't much of a mind at all.

Again I disagree. Even my best staff still get checked, still get assessed. And my staff still gets quizzed by senior managers on visits. Why? Because of a simple management law, "what get's checked, get's done" and this applies at all levels.

That TK didn't apply this was a mistake. Sure you can trust your managers to run the business, but the best way to assess what they are doing is to see what impacts they are having on their staff, and where appropriate, their customers. As you and others have said - too many yes men and Tom accepted that as factual evidence of the business.

Unfortunately your other comment also doesn't hold too much in an objective discussion as it is subjective. GW is still the most successful company of it's type. It has the largest turnover in it's market. We might feel that the quality of the products has deteriorated, and the sales performance is well below par, but that doesn't change the fact that they have done something successful that no other wargames company has done. That indicates that the "drek" they have been "shuffling off" must have some elements of being right about it somewhere.

I often call long term, older wargamers (and I count myself in this as well) Les Groignards - all we do is grumble (I suppose for that you can also read Longbeards). GAWD it sounds like you are part of that elite, select and quite often senile group ;)

Damien 1427
31-01-2008, 18:30
Well, as I hear it he was a very succesful manager at Boots, hardly a "shampoo salesman".

Wasn't he running the show whilst Boots was on the verge of being bought-out?

Huw_Dawson
31-01-2008, 19:05
Wasn't he running the show whilst Boots was on the verge of being bought-out?

Yes, and is creditied with dragging them kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Now they are a thriving company. Wells is still getting used to his new role, but bear something in mind.

He has NOTHING to do with the minatures, books, games, casting quality... this is all down to individual heads of these parts. Even if you had The Emperor as CEO, we wouldn't see 40K suddenly become perfect. He merely converses with the various heads to guide them on a path. He is lopping off certain aspects of the buisness that are not making enough profit, and are not guaranteed to make more profit in the near future. Good buisness move. His next step will most likely be to start hacking away at other expendable areas of GW (I have said this before :rolleyes:) that is their marketing, legal and accounting departments, who have large overheads. Personally, I feel that a pick up in sales will be triggered by WAR, but there is no guarantee, after all.

- Huw

EDIT: You know, The Imperium really is a good reflection of GW... You have the all-holy top man, the High lords, and so on. ;)

GAWD
31-01-2008, 19:15
@yabba:

My point is that even if he was checking up on them, he wouldn't have been able to correct the messes they've made b/c they all think alike anyway.

My other comments are surely subjective, but they seem to be backed up by the subjective opinions of myriad other GW customers who no longer see enough value in the product to keep buying it. Hence, the novellas on GW's poor financial health that we've littered these boards with.

There isn't much right about the drek they're peddling right now.

As a part of being a member of Les Groignards ... I'm not that old. :p

Huw_Dawson
31-01-2008, 19:24
My other comments are surely subjective, but they seem to be backed up by the subjective opinions of myriad other GW customers who no longer see enough value in the product to keep buying it. Hence, the novellas on GW's poor financial health that we've littered these boards with.

Sorry to interject, but to use an overused arguement, 200 years ago quite a large amount of people thought Slavery was a good idea... Just because its a largly held opinion, NEVER makes it correct.

- Huw

Emperor's Grace
31-01-2008, 19:49
Again I disagree. Even my best staff still get checked, still get assessed. And my staff still gets quizzed by senior managers on visits. Why? Because of a simple management law, "what get's checked, get's done" and this applies at all levels.

That TK didn't apply this was a mistake. Sure you can trust your managers to run the business, but the best way to assess what they are doing is to see what impacts they are having on their staff, and where appropriate, their customers. As you and others have said - too many yes men and Tom accepted that as factual evidence of the business.

I can't agree more. I am a manager (sorry, not GW - gov't service) and experience tells.

The greatest ideas/directives in the world mean squat if they aren't implemented (or worse, are implemented badly). You do need to delegate and hire competently (to keep workloads managable) but you also need to follow up on staff. And doing so at all levels keeps folks honest. (A level three person is less likely to tell me everything is "fine" if he knows that a level one person will tell me that the production line crashes every half hour. :D)


He was considered an exemplary manager for good reason: Whenever somebody came to him with a query or an idea, he'd have no qualms about going to the shop floor and talking to even his lowest staff members to see what they thought and get their feedback on it. If somebody had a problem he'd go down, see them and sort it out personally.

Your uncle sounds like a great example of a "hands-on" manager. A good manager should take advice/criticism and investigate it. Some things will require action, some won't, and some can be left to delegates to deal with (with a follow-up by you, even if on the quiet). The biggest hurdle for a lot of folks is to not take the criticism personally. The second biggest is probably figuring WHEN to step in (you want to give "direct reports" some freedom but you also want to head problems off while they're forming, not after they hit the fan.


Sorry to interject, but to use an overused arguement, 200 years ago quite a large amount of people thought Slavery was a good idea... Just because its a largly held opinion, NEVER makes it correct.

- Huw

You might also mention the points/parallels that it was also held to be sensible economically by those same people and that a lot of folks that objected to the practice still bought the products so produced.

Jellicoe
01-02-2008, 07:12
Yabbadabba speaks truth

I am a director of a hospital and whilst not clinically trained I and the other directors all spend time out on the wards/offices every so often - and you do see things in a very different light from just looking at the spread sheets. The CEO goes out and about even more often. It provides a very powerful early warning system and also provides a good source of ideas

Kirby never visiting one of his key departments is truly shocking

Osbad
01-02-2008, 10:44
Interesting article about what's happening to Starbucks.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7219458.stm

An essay in what happens if you don't pay attention to quality and aren't too clever about marketing your brand.

Now, with GW dragging their brand through the mud recently (it has become a by-word for mediocre quality in wargaming as far as I can tell) maybe they have some lessons to learn?

The lessons I would draw from it are

1/ That "sideshow" stuff like SG and DH add more than their simple sales value to the company because they add "depth" to the IP and therefore lustre to the brand. A "stripped down" GW with only core games on offer, and slimmed down, streamlined ones at that, is less interesting, and enticing, than one with more on offer. So concentrating on "core games" only isn't a long term solution.

2/ Image. If GW have become the MacDonald's of wargaming then pricing themselves like the Ritz isn't going work. They've got to either improve their perceived quality (and yeah guys, that means think about it a little harder than just increasing prices, again... like issue some bloomin' FAQs that actually fix your games!), so that people are prepared to pay the entry fee to participate, or bring that entry fee down.

Just my 2p

Jedi152
01-02-2008, 10:47
Sorry to veer off subject but something like Starbucks was always bound to be a bubble that would burst. Coffee houses were only really made popular through show like Friends, and Starbucks totally flooded the market to cash in on it.

That, and the fact that it's really pretentious, and sooner or later even the most pretentious venti-soy-triple-mocha-choca-latte drinking goon would eventually see through it...

But yes, we're back to the image thing. In wargaming circles GW has become a bit of a byword in mediocrity, and they need to address it.

RobC
01-02-2008, 11:16
(Off-topic: Starbucks is a victim of its own business model. The 'cluster' model essentially pushes other coffee shops out of the market, but at the long-term expense of having individual Starbucks stores competing with one another. There's also a growing movement in the UK away from 'clone towns' – and Starbucks is one of the companies responsible for our high streets looking like clones.)

Osbad
01-02-2008, 11:51
(Off-topic: Starbucks is a victim of its own business model. The 'cluster' model essentially pushes other coffee shops out of the market, but at the long-term expense of having individual Starbucks stores competing with one another. There's also a growing movement in the UK away from 'clone towns' and Starbucks is one of the companies responsible for our high streets looking like clones.)

Absolutely. And in no way am I claiming that GW are following a similar business model to Starbucks. I'm just wondering whether GW are making the same kind of management error in mistaking the tolerance of the public for their sales techniques?

lanrak
01-02-2008, 18:23
Hi all.
IMO the very first thing GW NEED to do is decide exactly what they are as a company.

If they are a 'table top games company', they NEED to develop and support a range of games.(Yes, bring SGs off life support ,and back into the lime light,and re releasing some boxed games, like Space hulk etc.)

Now if they were going to do this perhaps having 'living rule books' on thier web site might be a good idea?
So developers oversights/ gaffs can be adressed quickly in FAQs and amendments.(Cut and paste type fixes,perhaps?)

Also if the buisness drive is going to be 'games' driven then ALL GW gaming venues should be gamer friendly.(Decent amount of room ,enough tables for all types of gamer, newbs to vets, core and SGs)Not cramped noisey shop with a 4foot square table wegded in between the display racks...)

However, if GW is just in the buisness of selling minatures/models.They should get rid of all the GW shops,gaming venues,etc, ( saving a huge amount of money in overheads,) they can cut the cost of thier product enough to compete directly with other companies through independant retailers.

But currently people who just do 'the craft part' of the hobby and dont game.Are paying over the odds for thier minis/models to support the shops , gaming venues, tournament organisation , etc that they do not get any benifit from.

And the gamers are getting lack luster support , due to the GW departments that are responcible for game development, spending most of thier time developing new models/minis and marketing them!

So being expencive yet mediocre at everything is not realy an long term option for GW ,IMO.

smeghead9233
03-02-2008, 14:32
All I want to know is WHAT IS GOING ON AT GW!! No one is telling us on the factory floor anything.

Templar Ben
03-02-2008, 15:41
Are you in the UK or Memphis?