Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur
jducoeur

Kinda missing the point, I think

Another week, another desperately flailing attempt by the SCA, Inc to deal with recruitment and retention. The latest announcement is that they are searching for a Deputy Seneschal for Market Research. (After recently setting up a big Social Media Office.)

And y'know, all of this feels like they're missing the crux of the issue. We (well, no -- here I mean the Powers That Be, and I am very much not part of that) keep treating the members as a market, or as customers, or as demographics. There is a persistent, horrible sense of thinking of the Society as this freaking *product* that we're trying to sell to people. And that attitude is, I think, a goodly part of why the Society is having so many problems.

What the Society really needs is sharing information about how to work with *communities*. Moreover, it needs recognition from the very top that the Society *is* a community, and that the community is the important part. You can't dictate community with dictat or paperwork. You can't issue manuals of hard-and-fast rules for how to make a community work. You have to recognize that each bit of community is distinct and different, *but* you can strengthen communities if you understand the right principles to follow.

Of course, the most important of those principles is Empowerment -- giving the members enough authority over their own interaction with the game to feel like they are steering their own lives. And unfortunately, the most consistent and pervasive trend in the SCA is Disempowerment: steadily and constantly *removing* local and individual authority, on the theory that, God forbid, someone might make a mistake.

Centralizing and bureaucratizing everything is, of course, safer in many respects, and that's why the officer corps keeps doing it. But it also kills local branches by slowly suffocating them, not giving the members enough authority to find their own way. The fun of the SCA has always been its inventiveness -- in my book, that's why the "Creative" is important. But that creativity is being ever-more-tightly hemmed in, in every possible direction.

*Sigh*. I confess that this is one of those weeks when I feel rather acutely that the Society is doomed in the long run, between the various messages I'm seeing from Corporate and Kingdom. (Note: this rant is *not* about the law changes at Curia, which I think were generally well-discussed and measured. But some officer reports were more worrying.) Lots and lots of well-meaning people are ever-so-gradually strangling it, one rule at a time, and no centralized bureaucracy is going to reverse the resulting decline. Until and unless the Corporation wakes up to the fact that *it* is what is killing the club, not much is going to be able to help things...
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