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Saturday, March 17, 2012


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself that Jean wanted a blog that was actually about the company.

1. Over the years of running ADB, no end of people have suggested that I delegate more. The theory seemed to be that more products would come out and more other things could get done if I just let others do some of it for me. I resisted this for a very long time, not because I am a power-mad dictator but because of the lack of qualified people who could actually get the jobs done. Time and again, I delegated jobs to people who either did not do them, did them wrong, or abused their position to do things that were bad for the games and bad for the universe. The hard part to learn was that potential helpers don't show up by accident; they have to be trained and taught. You cannot just give them the drawing; you have to give them crayons, show them how to use them, and teach them that the lines mean STOP HERE. Over the years, more than a few people have volunteered to become "the delegated" but have demanded total control over whatever it was they wanted me to delegate to them (i.e., they could change anything they wanted without my approval, even if the result did not match stuff other people -- or I -- were doing). The fact that SFU has survived this long is not just a testament to one-brain leadership, but to multi-brain creativity. In all fairness (to me) I have delegated a lot of stuff now that I have qualified people. We've had Q&A guys for all of the game systems for a decade, Steven Petrick runs SFB (except when he wants me to make some decision for him), Jean Sexton runs the RPGs and Marketing and FaceBook (except when she asks me to decide something), Daniel Kast runs Starmada (which he created), Paul Franz runs SFBOL and Warlord, John Berg runs Galactic Conquest (which he created), Frank Brooks runs PBEM, and Matthew Sprange runs ACTASF (which he created). More than that, the department heads (Chuck Strong at F&E, Mike West at FC) are very nearly as independent as Steven Petrick is. So I have done plenty of delegating, and as fast as I can train people, I am doing more.

2. The whole concept of the company blog is somewhat beyond me, or perhaps, is something I really wish wasn't on my to-do list. In theory, posting a blog every day means people come by just to read it, and new arrivals find something very fresh on the website. It's even possible that somebody doing a search engine scan for something will find one of the blogs. (I am talking about the real "literary" blog, not the dayblog on the BBS, which is about as literary as TV guide listing for a new show.) I really wish I didn't have to do "real literary blogs" as they're just unpaid work product. (The dayblogs are just a part of my project schedule system and daily duties list and sort of generate themselves.) I'd rather spend the time on Star Fleet Marines or Project T or Reinforcements Attack or Civil Wars. (The same thing applies to Hailing Frequencies and Communique. All of the work that goes into 156 pages of Communique would produce at least one entirely new product a year. I know why I need to do them, but I wish I was running a bigger company so that I could assign those unpaid things to someone else and focus on new products.) Blogs are an important part of communication, marketing, recruiting, and retention, and deserve some focus and attention. In theory, every staff meeting needs to include a step where we discuss what needs to go onto the blog. In reality, Jean sends a memo every Monday saying "this is what we're doing, this is what we need" and that seems to get the job done. In order to reduce the workload, I usually delegate one blog a week to Steven Petrick, and of course we have the 12 rotating blogs that (updated) repeat every month, and the weekly summary that Jean got me to start doing. For my own blogs, I use a combination of things. That book on word origins produces a blog any time I need one. I collect "random thoughts" about TV shows and such, or something I read in a book. Jean has been making me do blogs (like this one) about the inner workings of the company. Every now and then, I wax rhetorical in some email and say to myself "That's good stuff!" and turn it into a blog. It seems to keep the dragon (i.e., Jean) fed and happy.

3. Every now and then my desk reaches "critical mess" and I have to clean off the loose paper and clutter. It's a good way to find projects that got forgotten (not all of which I wanted to find). During one recent clean-up, I found: a memo from Mongoose that just needed to be filed, an old list of things to do (those not yet done got added to my current list), a few draft things that Steven Petrick proofread (I had already made the corrections and just needed to throw these away), some SFB SSDs that I want to convert to FC (added those to the clipboard of such things which I also found in the pile), the form for Free RPG Day (which I had already faxed and just needed to throw out), several catalogs of military stuff (I ordered a birthday present for Steve P), several accounting reports from Leanna (I had Joel shred those), several scratch pads (threw away the note on the top page and put the pad back into the bin of scratch pads beside my desk), and old article on Tholians (rejected as it did not fit Loren's book, thrown away), some old sudoku puzzles (took them to the rest room on my next trip there), a bunch of newspaper editorials (some of which I added to my monthly political blog), some ACTASF drafts (already sent reports, so threw these away), some notes for the Random Thoughts blogs (added to that), my F&E 2010 rulebook (I had wondered where it went), some lottery tickets (put in pocket to check at quickie mart tomorrow), the minutes of three September 2011 meetings (put in file), a note to email somebody (I found out later he wasn't answering my emails because he was making a deal with someone else), half a dozen notes and cards for appointments I already went to (trash), a toothpick (trash), a number of now mysterious notes (one says "Howard, battle tugs"; another has a phone number; I tossed them all), catalog pages for the shelving Leanna bought last October, various drafts of Captain's Log #44 (trash), Jean's draft copy of E (some typos I stopped to fix), some Lyran 2400 minis (put in out box so Mike can put them back in stock), the quote for card deck printing (glad I found that!), a bite-size candy bar (ate that), a pack of stale crackers (did not eat), six almonds left over from the Origins trip (ate), a page of Captain's Log #45 that Jean had edited (checking, I had missed one of her typos), an old draft of ACTASF (I used to keep every draft of every product, but now I just toss them), drafts of press releases sent a month ago (trash), one of those Chick religious books (put with my collection), a shipping box full of Styrofoam peanuts (sent to warehouse), a press quote for something it turned out we didn't need to print (file), an Alliance catalog (filed), a whole clipboard of stuff I need to sort through later, half a dozen ball point pens, and two handkerchiefs (sent home for laundry).

4. Once we began uploading the old JagdPanthers, we started getting questions. Here are some of the answers. We'll do every issue of JagdPanther, in order. We'll do them at least one per month if not faster, just depending on what else we need to upload or what else we need to do. They'll sell better one at a time then uploading them all at once. I am scanning what was in the archive box and am not updating them. The issues of Bushwhacker, ICW Newsletter, and the non-magazine games will be uploaded as we find them. I know we have all of the JagdPanthers and think we have all of the games, but I doubt we have all of the Bushwhackers and newsletters.

5. We own some of the old TFG games and do not own others. We may someday scan some of the ones we own the rights to and upload them to e23. Not so much to make money as to preserve them for posterity.

6. Jean's free RPG thing sold 100 (free) copies on DriveThru RPG in 24 hours, and 900 in a week. That may call into question the theory that anybody on DriveThru will go to e23 to get things we only upload to e23. Maybe it does. Maybe not. I did tell Leanna to put JagdPanther #1 on DriveThru.