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Re: How does your Group operate

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 10:44 am
by Billy
You forgot the phase a lot of groups go through: The Split.

A fair amount have experienced this, and often results from factions splitting due to two or more charismatic 'leader' figures, and/or differing ideas about what direction the group should take in the future.

The important thing to bear in mind about it is, it can be an unfortunate occurance, but it is very possible for the resulting split groups to work together. Above all, the factions or camps should remain civil, and chivalrous, and not to let gossip and bitching to spill out into other members of the community. Keep it clean, keep it in-house. If the split happens, let it, accept it, and ensure you all remain friends, or at least courteous to each other.

My advice, based on experience and observation.

le meas,

Re: How does your Group operate

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 9:29 pm
by the_power
We really should get a decent Greek group going though. We could do stuff like this; ... g/301.html


Re: How does your Group operate

PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:27 am
by Malo
In Detling in 2007 we discovered that there were only 3 Spartans (damn Persian Propaganda) unless the other 297 were still in the beertent. :lol:

Re: How does your Group operate

PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:06 pm
by the_power
Being one of the poor unfortunates who has actually given the forming/storming/norming/performing management training to teams of engineers, I'd say it doesn't fit very well to re-enactors. At least not groups I've been in. But we can explore it, it's a useful tool if not taken too literally.

"Forming" is the initial stage where people are trying to work out how much they trust each other, and what their place is. If a "successful group, made from the people in it at the start" is the desired goal, don't focus on authenticity, expense etc; just get people going to as many gigs as they can together. Get them hammered, get them to meet loads of other people and decide what the difference between "them and us" is. Do a few events where you have hands-on projects to do, that will help people see each other's competencies; make a siege weapon, a bread oven, renovate a cannon. In this stage, a group needs a strong leader to tell people what to do; people feel enthusiastic though aimless. I think people also have to be prepped that it's OK for a strong leader to pop up for a while.

In the "Storming" stage, people kinda know what they need to get to "the next step". It's just that they don't have all the skills/kit yet, and they are...daunted by the amount of effort they now know is needed, so enthusiasm for the hobby itself drops off, and can be replaced by an interest in internal politics. This is the make or break time for the group. A leader who is too pushy will push people out. The other Alpha males (and females!) make their attempt for leadership positions, whatever that may entail. If the processes aren't there for getting people trained up and to events that they consider a challenge mentally, they'll lose interest. It's a lot of pain to be in a group at this stage. To get out of it, the leader needs to make sure senior members are tested, and found competent in the eyes of everyone, and that the junior members are kept busy and invested in the group.

The "Norming" stage is when people are now up to speed and aren't worried about their kit, but are wondering "am I really in the right team?" or "Do I really want to concentrate on texiles?". Here, the group leaders need to reassure everyone that it's cool, that people can switch skills, switch gigs, go to other groups events, and it's all good. People know their stuff, they just need to be told "go do it".

Once everyone is "performing", the group runs itself; people just turn up because they are good at what they do, and know it. The confidence really shows off at events; their kit, there research and their training has paid off.

Billy, curiously, a split is basically just dumping people from "performing" back to "forming" - when a team splits, you are effectively a new team again. If the split is managed well, and people doing feel the need to advertise it on the internet and ban members from going to the splitters' gigs, then you get through the "forming" stage pretty quickly. It can also happen due to a lovers tiff (where the group is split either side), losing a training venue, a gig that goes badly and leaves members footing the bill. Or, amazingly, by hiring new people...even the old guard are left wondering "who are these people, and how do they effect my future in the group?".


Re: How does your Group operate

PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 8:16 am
by the_power
So, that's an interesting question. I remember hanging out with some English medieval groups, and every year there was another split, almost invariably due to disagreements on how to treat an affair, arguments on who owned what expensive equipment, or even split on how to treat new people.

I've also seen groups split amicably here, where some decided "we want more living history" or "we want to focus exclusively on combat" or "I'm moving to another city, and taking the group name with me". The group focus can sometimes be very tight, like 'late 12thC Norman, light infantry". If someone wants to do something different, they might have to split. Sometimes people can drift focus over time too; things that are important to one part of a group might be taboo in the other. Up until recently, I'd say that the number one reason for Irish groups splitting was that some groups imbue a group leader with status; and that can look attractive to other members. Only way to get that 'group leader' status is to take over the group, or split. Groups that don't make a big deal of having a 'leader' can last a lot longer.

Living History Society and Fainne Fiain are definitely two groups that are mainly made up of people who don't consider 'leader status' a big deal, and don't have a tight historical focus, so might last a while, as is. But I don't think they generate the fanaticism that creates groups like Conquest or Regia, where their single-minded focus could field 2000 people all dressed similarly. While I yearn for a group that could field 100 11thC Irish soldiers...I wouldn't like to be involved in the politics you would need to keep that many people going in one direction.


Re: How does your Group operate

PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 10:23 am
by brendan
I think that it should (must?) be possible for groups to contain people who disagree about things. Sometimes these disagreements become heated. To my mind that is why a club/group constitution is important: It gives a very clear process for making contentious decisions - have a vote. Then decide if you are willing to accept the results.
Also, a properly constituted group has a clear, shared, vision/objectives. This makes it easier to decide whether it is of interest or not. These objectives can change
A clear structure is not an answer to everything, but without a clear structure it is back to Alpha leader Vs subversive manipulater...


Re: How does your Group operate

PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 10:48 pm
by Nerva
Salve H

Which group are you a member of?

Re: How does your Group operate

PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:51 pm
by gobae
Our group seems to have skipped the "storming phase" altogether. We don't do much in the way of recruitment and typically only get 1-2 new people joining each year. Our basic philosophy about membership is that: "if you're truly interested (and able) you'll show up and participate". This slow-but-steady approach hasn't really hampered our ability to construct loads of gear, but it does give us time to discuss and resolve organizational issues when we start to see them, not when they're on top of us.

To my mind that is why a club/group constitution is important: It gives a very clear process for making contentious decisions - have a vote.

This is something that we specifically avoided because we saw many other groups getting bogged down in the bureaucracy of: deciding who could vote -> attendance requirements -> membership requirements, as well as the "rules lawyering", and political power plays this leads to. Our group could best be described as a "consensual benevolent dictatorship". I direct and lead the group, but it's done with the input, suggestions and agreement of the active members. Probably the biggest piece of advice I give others starting out is don't hamstring your group with rules/guidelines/constitution until they're NEEDED.

Our group is not only prepared for a split, but welcomes it. Whether the split comes from geography issues, disparate ideology, growth or specific time period focus differences, we accept that a split is part of a normal progression of a group. Additionally, trying to hold a group together when a split is needed just leads to hard feelings, and resentment.

Re: How does your Group operate

PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:02 pm
by nathan
alot of interesting ideas coming up here id like to ask as someone new to many ideas here on the biggest first issue to all groups how to get set up and gain members? iv seen alot of ideas on this but i still dont know what "should" be done. i think for most groups a simple yet unofficial dictatorship works. what i would like to know is for a group begining how to get members. i found when i joined this great hobby it took me 6 months from first discovering it even existed to get in touch with a group. and thats usually the main issue getting the info out there and letting people know what reenacting actually is because its hard to explain quickly. its not just a martial art form or dressing up its alot more and to get members starting off would not be easy. so any ideas?

Re: How does your Group operate

PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 6:55 pm
by gobae
the biggest first issue to all groups how to get set up and gain members? iv seen alot of ideas on this but i still dont know what "should" be done.

I think what "should be done" is going to vary considerably from group to group. As I mentioned before, our group is very content to grow slowly around a tight core of like-minded people; this is often not the case for groups that re-enact battles or are mostly martial. A martial group will probably need/want to field quite a number of people to facilitate drilling, and the appearance of "mass". So, recruiting is a higher priority than for someone like us.

That said, regardless of the ultimate speed and size a group wants to grow to, probably a group's biggest recruiting tool is public re-enactments. These venues are already attended primarily by people who have at least some (passing) interest in who or what you're portraying. But public re-enactments are also the "catch-22" for beginning groups; to do a good demo you need people -> to get those people you need to do a good demo.

In fact we didn't do any public events for the first 6 years of our 10 year existence because we didn't want to show the public a "half-assed" demo because we feared we'd attract people who would think that they could participate in a half-assed fashion. Our core group of 5 people just kept plugging along building things and having private gatherings until we felt like we could put on a reasonable public demo (yes, 5 people were responsible for building all of the things we have). Since we started doing demos/events 4 years ago our active membership has doubled. Still small, but we know that all 10 people are committed to doing things well.

Understand I'm not trying to say what we've done as "the way" to do things. But it certainly is another way, and one that no re-enactor groups in our area were (are) using.