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View Full Version : Project Management, or how i learnt to love the bomb



Torga_DW
20-09-2013, 02:33
Well i came across this a couple years ago on the net, and after reading that whole price of a new car vs space marine chapter comparison post, i got angry and decided why not post it now (don't worry, ******** form already filled in). So here tis; my apologies if its been discussed ad nauseum already.


Warning: you will want to craft your hat out of at least 2x ply tinfoil. Possibly infinity ply if you can (infinity +1 ply being preferable). Pull out all the fillings in your teeth. Hang as many wire coat hangers from the ceiling as you have.

enjoy. :)

Coldhatred
20-09-2013, 04:44
I hadn't read this the last time it came up, thanks for the post. I'll read it this time around!

Fear Ghoul
20-09-2013, 10:34
It's an interesting read, but almost all of the assertions made are unreferenced, and therefore meaningless.

Torga_DW
22-09-2013, 18:24
As an outsider's perspective i found it a fascinating insight into gw, especially given the annual report threads that come up every year. Not sure what you mean by unreferenced, unless you're referring to not naming the participants in the study, which probably would have biased the results if they'd had to respond 'on the record'. Otherwise i rather thought it was referenced, chapter 2 was pretty much a listing and explanation of all the management concepts he was using in it.

Kirby's focus on culture (red book, black book and plans to make a 3rd book) and the plan to replace all management with internally promoted staff; when contrasted with this year's annual report where he mentions staff are the biggest threat they're facing (over five years into the ten year plan). I knew of the black book and red book, but can't remember people talking much about the third book he was writing (presumably he did write it, and probably people did talk about it, i just don't remember). And how that relates to gw's management approach at the time (bureaucratic/monolithic in an environment that needed to be flexible and innovative).

The perceptions of the interviewed higher ups tending towards the manufacturing arm was or was beginning to dominate the triumvirate culture of games design, manufacturing and sales. One one of the quotes (iirc attributed to kirby) was interesting, as he referenced either some marketing or planning methodology some guy had created, only one of that guy's staff/partners/coffee guy had said or implied afterwards that their results were a bit questionable (paraphrasing here, would have to find it again to get the exact info).

People's mileage may vary, i guess.

f2k
22-09-2013, 19:47
To be honest, for those of us who's been following Games Workshop there's not much new in that study. It's nice to see it talked about from within the organisation, but it's hardly new.


I would also add that it seems somewhat dated by now. The stagnation is worsening, the Hobby Centers are all but gone, they keep pushing for bigger armies and bigger models... It would be interesting to see the same study done now, though I doubt that much would have changed.

Marked_by_chaos
22-09-2013, 19:54
A interesting read. Considering the age of the essay I would speculate from subsequent events that power has swung firmly behind sales again.

I think the period in question covered the move to plastic production and similar manufacturing changes. Now that they have progressed a bit it seems that sales are driving things, and in particular the design studio.

Fear Ghoul
22-09-2013, 20:30
Not sure what you mean by unreferenced, unless you're referring to not naming the participants in the study, which probably would have biased the results if they'd had to respond 'on the record'. Otherwise i rather thought it was referenced, chapter 2 was pretty much a listing and explanation of all the management concepts he was using in it.


I was referring to the case study section on GW. Pretty much most of his assertions about changes in GW organization don't have inline citations, but I'm used to scientific publications so maybe it's different in the field of business studies.

Marked_by_chaos
22-09-2013, 20:48
Aside from the cringeworthy quotes from the gw black and red books, the other point that made me think was premise that the design studio had established a target audience and then put back under the fetters of control from the manufacturing and sales teams.

Obviously you do need an effective sales and manufacturing strategy for a company of gw's size, but constraining the design studio's entrepreneurial spirit risks undermining the whole product/target audience.

To a degree this has been addressed by creating forge world who have a longer leash and are reminiscent of the old design studio in their general level of autonomy and creative control. Unsurprisingly they are going from strength to strength and exceeding all expectations. However, I am not so sure about gw proper.

The whole ethos and atmosphere of the main game systems is changing. Grim dark seems to be on it way out to a degree and I think there is already evidence of the design studio struggling to cope with the loss of most of the earlier/original authors of the game systems/universes.

The other issue that I think saddens many "vets" is that they felt that the design studio were good guys and fellow hobbyists and that the development of the games, models and universes was a symbiotic process between them and the customers/hobbyists/collectors themselves. Now gw seems to be actively moving away from fostering personalities within the studio and the connection just seems to have been lost to a degree particularly when product releases seem to be increasingly sales dictated.

Torga_DW
24-09-2013, 21:18
Yeah, it was ~ 5 years ago, but as snapshots in time go, i think robin was spot on and definitely earned his degree. To bad he's not in charge. :(

And yes, i'd agree with the last bit too. I definitely thought they were decent blokes, and i got a feeling of their passion for the game through the rules. I still remember Andy Chamber's white dwarf article, where he admitted there was a problem with terminators, apologized and then gave out a fix/solution; instead of leaving to be addressed (hopefully) in the next edition like seems to be done nowadays. I think this is probably closer to what life as a game designer is like at gw: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zSxQnZ3TM8

Scaryscarymushroom
26-09-2013, 00:55
Interesting read, thanks for sharing.

I had no idea that Kirby kept a book of commandments. As honorable as all those values are, the suggestion that either you fit the mold or you lose your job makes it sound like they run too tight a ship. A dictator-ship. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcYppAs6ZdI&list=PL4B8E4CA85FDA4FB8)

I also had only a vague understanding of what corporate culture means and the role that it plays in business management.

blongbling
30-09-2013, 12:37
hah, I was interviewed as part of Robins work on this :) Robin has now gone from GW

f2k
30-09-2013, 15:07
hah, I was interviewed as part of Robins work on this :) Robin has now gone from GW

He has?

I must admit that I was curious as to the reception of his report.

Torga_DW
30-09-2013, 19:11
I did not know that, hopefully he's moved on to bigger and better things. I only found that report due to reading one of those 'where are they now?' threads, and iirc people were hazy as to what had happened to him (which lead to my google search). I still remember his time as editor, i thought he put out a solid magazine.

blongbling
03-10-2013, 08:05
Robin was running GW Spain and then left, I am not 100% sure of the reasons why but i would guess from what i heard it wasn't an amicable release