[cross-posted from Andy Warren's blog at sqlandy.com]
SQLSaturday IT Refresh
This is a draft of ideas for the upcoming IT refresh of SQLSaturday. Right now we’re trying to capture ideas and try to understand how they should be prioritized. We’re going to try to make an investment in each of three areas; public facing SQLSaturday web site, the site used by event leaders, and the site used by HQ do overall administration and reporting.
- Add a list on the front page of reserved dates/locations
- List event leaders/photos (via gravatar), linkedin, twitter on front page
- Add a page to reserve a date/location
- Add a link to the front page that explains “national” sponsors and our process for selecting/updating them (and the page with the text as well)
- Add a “schedule builder” that will let attendees pick the sessions they plan to attend and print the list (also used by event leaders to assign topics to rooms)
- Fix data/formatting issues on View All Events Page, change to sort by Sat#
- Add a link to the PASS logo on the header back to sqlpass.org
- Change the LinkedIn link on the home page to point to the main PASS group (related task, remove the existing SQLSaturday LinkedIn group, set up a sub group in the PASS group)
- Change the Facebook link to point to the PASS Facebook page, and close down the SQLSat page
- Deploying pending changes (bug fix to calendar, sponsor logos moved to front page, images added to networking page)
- Add links to Twitter and LinkedIn on the networking page for each member listed
- Automatically add new users to SQLPASS.org, email them a welcome letter,notify local chapter
- Add a page to let user see(or get emailed) their current reg/lunch status (and potentially this would include the ‘speed pass’)
- Expose a standard set of data per event that can be used for mashups (subject to legal review),but should be event/session info that is available to public in XML/Odata format, put links to this data on the event page
- Explose a standard set of data across events (subject to legal) including event names, locations, sessions, sponsors, etc. Might be more than one. XML/Odata format. Put links on main home page. Note, look at http://openconferenceprotocol.org/.
- Option needed for speaker to edit presentation unless locked (this is true even if SB is online, they could need to fix a typo for example) (this requires a login/validation)
- Review sizes of columns related to abstracts, if possible standardize to SB specs
- Add option for ‘speed pass’ to be mailed out upon registration
- Consider option to label raffle tickets per sponsor?
- Consider supporting re-invoicing sponsors who have paid less than full amount (minus transaction fee) (not sure this is worth doing, low incidence)
- Include a map that shows upcoming events, switch to show all events so far
- Show testimonials on front page, either a list or maybe a rotating view
- Change sponsor plan template to include a blog sponsorship
- Change sponsor default options to include a $5 (or whatever currency) blogger option
- Change the advisory council to include the “main” event leaders for the past 18 months, add text to explain the criteria and their role in guiding growth.
Event Leader Tools
- Allow admin to change lunch fee, raise maximum to $15
- Revise sponsor and budget pages to show currency being collected
- Replace drag and drop schedule builder (for building actual schedule) with a better implementation (current one is slow/quirky)
- Allow admin to see how many messages are queued ahead of their message
- Allow them to approve messages via the site (in addition to current method of a link in email)
- Open to receive event status report daily
- Job to send event status report to all open/subscribed events, should go to all event admins for the event
- Add page to “request a check” and to see status of the request
- Post event survey page to capture info needed for reporting (see Nancy: lessons learned, # attendees, etc)
- Fix issue with reports that don’t render correctly due to hidden eventid parameter
- Implement the ability to do a mailing based on a user defined list (query)
- Remove the option to email to all speakers (we will continue to send one email to that list per event that is set up until the speaker bureau goes online)
- Provide option to set default currency for PayPal
- Provide option to NOT send a PayPal link (check only)
- Fix the Twitter notification process to announce sponsor and members on Twitter
- Add an auto task to send out a link to a post event form asking for testimonials (form would be hosted on public site)
- Provide UI tools to review/approve testimonials
- Review ability to edit all public site pages, try to provide ability to edit content display more deeply than we have now (needs work)
- Review current reconcile process to determine if we can do more to speed up that process
- Add a page to view check requests and update status
- Page to add/update/remove reserved events
- Online view/update of current event stats (from survey page or manually entered)
- Online view of current sponsorship budget, amount allocated/reserved
- Ability to email to all speakers, all event leaders
- Review and refine the existing monthly report.
- Add edit tools/storage for data points that need to be entered manually
- Tools to handle tracking/updating of required/scheduled status calls/meetings and the results, should send weekly reminders to HQ
- Online add/edit of event leaders, ability to tag “main” leader for each event
- Track funds sent to events/remaining from sponsorship budget
- Track additional support provided to event (lanyards, swag sent, etc)
- Revise the SQLSaturday Logo to include a reference to PASS, update all sites to use it
- Update the PayPal support to allow setting a default currency besides USD
- Review all existing reports, fix if needed, remove ones that are duplicated or no longer needed
- Please, help us understand what you want to see fixed and how it should be prioritized.
Added, not categorized:
- Publish and make easily visible a suggested Powerpoint deck design
- Publish a list of flyers used by various events for events to use for inspiration
- Rework the graphics/layout to be as good as the SQLRally site
- Track # of emails sent, delivered, undelivered, tagged as spam when sent via SQLSaturday.com
- Make sure all actions require confirmation (needs discussion/detail)
Starting this month, PASS will be displaying all public votes of the Board of Directors prominently on the PASS Governance page.
This page is no longer gated, meaning you do not need to log in to view the information on that part of the site. If you are unfamiliar with the page, you may want to take a look around. You will find a detailed synopsis of PASS' financials, including charts and spreadsheets. You will also find records of all minutes going back to January 2009 (older copies available upon request), as well as high-level monthly reports of PASS activities.
To further highlight Board operations, a box has been added below the "Meeting Minutes" section on the left side of the page. This box, "Board Votes", will house monthly reports of all the decisions the Board reaches by means of official vote. There is a brief breakdown of the month's decisions at the top of the page. Below that, the detailed section of the report shows the motions that were made, who made them and in what venue (email, teleconference, or in-face), and how each Director voted on the issue at hand.
The first entry is March 2011. As the number next to the title indicates, only one motion was made in March. You can read the report by clicking here.
These changes are the result of discussions with various Board members, particularly Bill Graziano and Allen Kinsel. We hope this will further enhance transparency into the operations of PASS and its Board. If you have any questions or concerns, please email me or post a comment below.
PASS HQ - Governance
[cross-posted from Bill Graziano's blog at sqlteam.com]
I wanted to give a little background on the legal status of PASS. The Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) is an American corporation chartered in the state of Illinois. In America a corporation has to be chartered in a particular state. It has to abide by the laws of that state and potentially pay taxes to that state. Our bylaws and actions have to comply with Illinois state law and United States law. We maintain a mailing address in Chicago, Illinois but our headquarters is currently in Vancouver, Canada.
We have roughly a dozen people that work in our Vancouver headquarters and 4-5 more that work remotely on various projects. These aren’t employees of PASS. They are employed by a management company that we hire to run the day to day operations of the organization. I’ll have more on this arrangement in a future post.
PASS is a non-profit corporation. The term non-profit and not-for-profit are used interchangeably. In a for-profit corporation (or LLC) there are owners that are entitled to the profits of a company. In a non-profit there are no owners. As a non-profit, all the money earned by the organization must be retained or spent. There is no money that flows out to shareholders, owners or the board of directors. Any money not spent in furtherance of our mission is retained as financial reserves.
Many non-profits apply for tax exempt status. Being tax exempt means that an organization doesn’t pay taxes on its profits. There are a variety of laws governing who can be tax exempt in the United States. There are many professional associations that are tax exempt however PASS isn’t tax exempt. Because our mission revolves around the software of a single company we aren’t eligible for tax exempt status.
PASS was founded in the late 1990’s by Microsoft and Platinum Technologies. Platinum was later purchased by Computer Associates. As the founding partners Microsoft and CA each have two seats on the Board of Directors. The other six directors and three officers are elected as specified in our bylaws.
As a non-profit, our bylaws layout our governing practices. They must conform to Illinois and United States law. These bylaws specify that PASS is governed by a Board of Directors elected by the membership with two members each from Microsoft and CA. You can find our bylaws as well as a proposed update to them on the governance page of the PASS web site.
The last point that I’d like to make is that PASS is completely self-funded. All of our $4 million in revenue comes from conference registrations, sponsorships and advertising. We don’t receive any money from anyone outside those channels. While we work closely with Microsoft we are independent of them and only derive a very small percentage of our revenue from them.
[cross-posted from Allen Kinsel's blog at allenkinsel.com]
What has PASS been up to?
Ever find yourself with tons of extra time just looking for something to dig through?
yeah, me neither… But, I do make it a point to go out and read through lots of PASS documents regularly. Sure, Some of those documents are not for public consumption but, a large portion of them are available for any PASS Member to view. Almost all of them will require you to be logged in to the PASS site.
A good starting point is the PASS Governance Page <- lots of good stuff hides on this page, Im working on getting this page removed from behind the login wall
PASS BOD Meeting Minutes are posted on the left hand side
The Feb 2011 Minutes are here
- Good discussions in here about Globalization of PASS, especially revolving around events
The Jan 2011 Minutes are here
- This was an in-person meeting and there is a literal ton of info in here. Highlights are globalization, Summit 2011 Planning, Summit 2010 Post mortem, 5 Year plans, Bylaw Changes
PASS Monthly Reports are found in the middle on the left
These are gems that reveal the day to day inner workings of the BOD and HQ
The Feb report should be posted in the next day or 2
The Jan report however, is here
- In here You’ll find things about Chapters, IT Projects, Marketing initiatives, ERC info, Sponsorship Sales, Summit Program, SQLRally, Gloablization, etc
The Dec report is here
- This one contains things like Chapter info, HQ Finance, IT Projects, Marketing, Summit, Rally, 24hop, SQL Saturday,
The budget for PASS is included at the bottom of the governance page
2011 Budget is here
- Wanna know where the money is supposed to be coming from, and where its supposed to be going? this is where to look.
- Side note: Im going to check into where the 2010 audited financials are, they should be available by now.
The SQL Rally has posted all of the planning meeting notes posted here
- There is tons of good stuff in here, its especially interesting to me to watch the minutes back and forth dealing with very familiar problems as what I’ve seen in the Summit program group.
- Wanna know how many attendees are registered so far for the Rally? yup its in there. Wanna know how many are in Precons? yup its in there too
We (PASS Program) started posting meeting minutes near the lower left side of this page
- I have written about these minutes before
- Good information in here about many new changes that are being considered by the Program Committee
- Essentially It says that I’m not getting nearly enough done for the program committee lately. I need to work on that!
- Im including this here because lost of good stuff gets posted here but, for me I can only find it since its in my RSS Reader.
In Summary, PASS releases a ton of information about what its doing. The problem with this is two-fold, one its a ton of information. Two, the information is spread out all over the place and is often difficult to find on the site using conventional browsing methods so I hope this helps
Last week, the latest iteration of "24 Hours of PASS" was held. It was "Different" for me. Why? Because I was not an active participant on the days of the event other than being an attendee. I was involved in some aspects of the planning for the event when deciding the theme and format, etc. I was on many calls and email threads for the planning of this event. I did the moderator/speaker training a few weeks prior to the event. But on the days that the event was actually held, I was not on pins and needles worrying about logistics. Tom LaRock, HQ, and the team of moderators did a great job of execution. I attended as many sessions as I could. The Moderators seemed to be well prepared and the speakers focused on delivering the content. In my view, this went very well.
With the theme of "Women in Technology" for this 24hop, PASS was able to showcase a positive force within the SQL Community. The WIT luncheon at the PASS Community Summit keeps growing in popularity/attendance year after year. The WIT Virtual Chapter continues this positive vibe throughout the year - http://wit.sqlpass.org/.
I enjoyed reading the "Twitter Stream" about #24hop. I do not have numbers yet, but every session had at least 200-300 attendees and several topped 750! Wow!
Each session was recorded and will be available for replay shortly. Keep checking www.sqlpass.org for replay availability.
A BIG "Thank You" goes out to the Speakers and Moderators who helped to make this latest edition of 24hop a success. I enjoyed it immensely.
[cross-posted from Allen Kinsel's blog at allenkinsel.com]
After last years Summit we launched a feedback site http://feedback.sqlpass.org in hopes of gathering all of the feedback about the event in one place. The number one thing people have asked for on that site is for there to be a track of sessions in the 400-500 level range. The problems with the community desire for higher level sessions are twofold, one we dont normally get a huge number of session submissions that are at the 400-500 level. Two, I’ve been told by those who are qualified to present those types of sessions that an hour and fifteen minutes (spotlight) is often not enough time.
Cramped for space
In the past our conference size has dictated the floor-plans at the conference center and we’ve been maxed out at 14 concurrent sessions. This year however, because of anticipated attendee growth, the logistical geniuses at PASS HQ were able to add another session room (I’m looking at you Anika and Craig). With this new room I have options on what to do with the extra session rooms!!
Changes for the Summit 2011
This year we’ll be using the space we gained from the new room addition to have longer deep dive sessions. The current idea is to offer these longer sessions in hopes that they will attract presenters who are qualified to present these deeper dive sessions. Currently, the plan is to have a maximum of 6 deep dive (lvl 400 or 500 only) 3 hour sessions. Because of the way the schedule is laid out, we will run 2 of these sessions concurrently every conference day.
Rules… Yeah there’s always rules
We will accept abstracts for this new session type in the same manner as a regular abstract. That is to say anyone can submit a half day abstract. If you submit an abstract for a 1/2 day session it will count as one of your 4 allowed abstract submissions. The session selection for these sessions will be handled by the regular respective abstract review teams. Even though we are going to allow anyone to submit abstracts for these sessions, it should go without saying that if you don’t have prior experience or reputation for being able to give an extended, strong 400-500 level session it may be best to focus on a regular summit session. What I mean by this is for these particular sessions we will be instructing the review teams to weigh the speakers perceived ability to deliver the session higher than we normally would for a regular session.
Possible Hiccups i.e. Changes
Two things could change with these sessions.
- I am considering making the sessions 4 hours long (roughly 3 regular session slots). If we do that the maximum number of sessions would drop to four. I’m leaning heavily away from this but, if anyone has a strong opinion on this I’ll listen
- Depending on the quantity and quality of the abstracts we receive, we may have less than the maximum sessions shown above (4 or 6)
- Im still considering a single DBA 101 “Accidental DBA” type session for one of these sessions but havent been swayed that there is more interest there than there is in deep dives
(This is Round 13 of PASS's weekly round-up of SQLSaturday recaps. PASS community bloggers love their SQLSaturdays, and they love to tell everyone about their experiences, so who are we not to share that love?)
Last week, PASS SQLSaturday headed for the desert to bring free SQL training to the people of Phoenix.
As usual, the event's organizers did a stellar job! We're not even sure they should put the word "Phoenix" in the next event they hold there -- given the success of SQLSaturday #47, there won't be any ashes to rise from, just successes to build on.
(That is one mesmerizing night sky. Was this the after-party?)
For those of you on Twitter, follow @sqlpass and make sure to check out the #sqlsat and #sqlsaturday hashtags to stay up to date. Besides attendance at free learning events, there are many speaking and sponsorship opportunities available.
LAST WEEK IN SQLSATURDAY...
+ Colin Smith presented at SQLSaturday #47, Phoenix
+ Bill Ramos presented at SQLSaturday #47, Phoenix
COMING UP IN SQLSATURDAY...
This week SQLSaturday #65 stops in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, for the Vancouver get-together - if you're heading that way, make sure to say hi to all the PASS HQ team members stopping by! On Mar. 5, the City of Brotherly Love opens its arms wide for SQLSaturday #69, Philadelphia. And on Mar. 19, the event makes a pit-stop in Columbia, SC, for SQLSaturday #70.
IN OTHER NEWS...
Things are somewhat quiet on the SQLSaturday front this week. The organizers of SQLSaturday #67, Chicago, are planning a pre-conference session. Take a look!
A hot topic of discussion this past week has centered around the question, "What Should PASS Be?" SQLSaturday is a key part of PASS's future vision - definitely some interesting points to be found here. Make sure to have your say!
Want to attend or speak at a SQLSaturday? Check out the SQLSaturday website or "Upcoming In-Person Events" on the PASS Home page for upcoming dates near you.
Want to put on your own SQLSaturday? Click here to get started.
[cross-posted from Andy's blog at sqlandy.com]
PASS isn’t what it should be. I hear that a lot, and in many ways I agree with you. We’re finally growing and evolving, but we’re still far from what I think most of you expect from a true professional association.
I’m not sure you or I have realistic expectations. So I want to challenge you. Draw an image of what you want PASS to be in 3 years and share it on your blog (or post a comment here if you don’t have a blog). Imagine we just hired you to be CEO of PASS and you were going to “fix” things, what would you do? What’s your vision for providing benefits to chapters or members, or for growing membership, or for global growth, or whatever areas you think are badly served right now?
Maybe I just don’t have the vision – I’m limited by my own biases and experiences – but I’d really like for PASS to be what you want it to be. An organization that serves you, excites you, makes you proud to be part of it, proud to support it, and willing to challenge it if it steps off track.
Maybe it’s a paragraph, maybe it’s a thousand words, but I hope you’ll write something. We’ve got several hundred bloggers in the SQL space, and a whole lot of members. What you write may not change the world, but maybe it will.
[cross-posted from Allen's blog at allenkinsel.com]
Every year PASS asks the speakers at the Summit to agree to some relatively simple terms and conditions. I don’t consider them to be anything overly involved or overbearing. For those who haven’t seen them they basically establish that a speaker owns the content they are going to present, that the speakers act as professional as possible, don’t market their products, or their companies products, and allow PASS to record the sessions.
This year the hangup for me is related to that last tiny bit. For regular conference speakers asking them to allow recording of their 1 hour session isn’t a big ask. However where Im reevaluating what we’ve done in the past is related to the all day preconference sessions.
Last year PASS recorded the preconference sessions and offered them for sale to PASS members. Just like the preconference sessions where the speakers get a portion of the admission fee, the contract called for the speakers to get a portion of the sales from the DVD’s. At the time this seemed like a fair way to do things and I still believe that the revenue share is fair.
Ive heard from several different people that if these preconference sessions are recorded that it may become more and more difficult for PASS to attract the top tier SQL Server speakers to do precons. I can appreciate the position of some speakers on this, if they are giving their best content and we are distributing it digitally for what amounts to a few hundred dollars they run the very real risk of loosing actual sales of training material, or potential clients.
On the other side, I need to weigh the risks of potentially shrinking the pool of available speakers with the benefits to the community of being able to offer these recordings. The other benefit is of course the money PASS makes from these DVD sales. To be perfectly clear, the amount of money PASS makes off of DVD sales in general is merely a pittance in the scheme of things. Having the DVD’s available and leveraging the content however is very valuable to our members and something that I think is important enough to at least explore what can be done to hopefully find a good balance
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
The way I’m leaning on this is to leave things the way they are and see if we see an overall drop in the quality or quantity of our preconference presenters in 2011 onward. I have however thought a lot about possible ways we could create a workable model, where we allowed certain preconference speakers to opt out of recording. This could get really messy administratively, and cause some confusion/anger with attendees not knowing which sessions will be included in the recordings. The other alternative is to just stop recording preconference sessions totally, although I dont think this is a good option.
I guess what I’m trying to do here is expose an internal debate that Ive been having with myself. Ive found that often if I spend the time to write something out it helps me organize my thoughts. As a bonus occasionally, I get great comments/ideas from the 2 of you who read this.
[cross-posted from Bill Graziano's blog at sqlteam.com]
I’m starting my sixth year on the PASS Board. I served two years as the Program Director, two years as the Vice-President of Marketing and I’m starting my second year as the Executive Vice-President of Finance. There’s a pretty good chance that if PASS has done something you don’t like or is doing something you don’t like, that I’m involved in one way or another.
Andy Leonard asked in a comment on his blog if the Board had ever reversed itself based on community input. He asserted that it hadn’t. I disagree. I’m not going to try and list all the changes we make inside portfolios based on feedback from and meetings with the community. I’m going to focus on major governance issues since I was elected to the Board.
The first big change was our management company. Our old management company had a standard approach to running a non-profit. It worked well when PASS was launched. Having a ready-made structure and process to run the organization enabled the organization to grow quickly. As time went on we were limited in some of the things we wanted to do. The more involved you were with PASS, the more you saw these limitations. Key volunteers were regularly providing feedback that they wanted certain changes that were difficult for us to accomplish. The Board at that time wanted changes that were difficult or impossible to accomplish under that structure.
This was not a simple change. Imagine a $2.5 million dollar company letting all its employees go on a Friday and starting with a new staff on Monday. We also had a very narrow window to accomplish that so that we wouldn’t affect the Summit – our only source of revenue. We spent the year after the change rebuilding processes and putting on the Summit in Denver.
That’s a concrete example of a huge change that PASS made to better serve its members. And it was a change that many in the community were telling us we needed to make.
We heard regularly from our members that they wanted our financials posted. Today on our web site you can find audited financials going back to 2004. We publish our budget at the start of each year. If you ask a question about the financials on the PASS site I do my best to answer it. I’m also trying to do a better job answering financial questions posted in other locations. (And yes, I know I owe a few of you some blog posts.)
That’s another concrete example of a change that our members asked for that the Board agreed was a good decision.
When I started on the Board the meeting minutes were very limited. The minutes from a two day Board meeting might fit on one page. I think we did the bare minimum we were legally required to do. Today Board meeting minutes run from 5 to 12 pages and go into incredible detail on what we talk about. There are certain topics that are NDA but where possible we try to list the topic we discussed but that the actual discussion was under NDA. We also publish the agenda of Board meetings ahead of time.
This is another specific example where input from the community influenced the decision. It was certainly easier to have limited minutes but I think the extra effort helps our members understand what’s going on.
At the 2009 Summit the Board held its first public Q&A with our members. We’d always been available individually to answer questions. There’s a benefit to getting us all in one room and asking the really hard questions to watch us squirm. We learn what questions we don’t have good answers for. We get to see how many people in the crowd look interested in the various questions and answers.
I don’t recall the genesis of how this came about. I’m fairly certain there was some community pressure though.
Until last November, the Board only reported the vote totals and not how individual Board members voted. That was one of the topics at a great lunch I had with Tim Mitchell and Kendal van Dyke at the Summit. That was also the topic of the first question asked at the Board Q&A by Kendal. Kendal expressed his opposition to to anonymous votes clearly and passionately and without trying to paint anyone into a corner. Less than 24 hours later the PASS Board voted to make individual votes public unless the topic was under NDA. That’s another area where the Board decided to change based on feedback from our members.
While this isn’t actually a governance issue it is one of the more public decisions we make that has taken some public criticism. There is a significant portion of our members that want the Summit near them. There is a significant portion of our members that like the Summit in Seattle. There is a significant portion of our members that think it should move around the country. I was one that felt strongly that there were significant, tangible benefits to our attendees to being in Seattle every year. I’m also one that has been swayed by some very compelling arguments that we need to have at least one outside Seattle and then revisit the decision. I can’t tell you how the Board will vote but I know the opinion of our members weighs heavily on the decision.
And that brings us to the grand-daddy of all governance issues. My thesis for this blog post is that the PASS Board has implemented policy changes in response to member feedback. It isn’t to defend or criticize our election process. It’s just to say that is has been under going continuous change since I’ve been on the Board.
I ran for the Board in the fall of 2005. I don’t know much about what happened before then. I was actively volunteering for PASS for four years prior to that as a chapter leader and on the program committee. I don’t recall any complaints about elections but that doesn’t mean they didn’t occur. The questions from the Nominating Committee (NomCom) were trivial and the selection process rudimentary (For example, “Tell us about your accomplishments”). I don’t even remember who I ran against or how many other people ran.
I ran for the VP of Marketing in the fall of 2007. I don’t recall any significant changes the Board made in the election process for that election. I think a lot of the changes in 2007 came from us asking the management company to work on the election process. I was expecting a similar set of puff ball questions from my previous election. Boy, was I in for a shock. The NomCom had found a much better set of questions and really made the interview portion difficult. The questions were much more behavioral in nature. I’d already written about my vision for PASS and my goals. They wanted to know how I handled adversity, how I handled criticism, how I handled conflict, how I handled troublesome volunteers, how I motivated people and how I responded to motivation. And many, many other things.
They grilled me for over an hour. I’ve done a fair bit of technical sales in my time. I feel I speak well under pressure addressing pointed questions. This interview intentionally put me under pressure. In addition to wanting to know about my interpersonal skills, my work experience, my volunteer experience and my supervisory experience they wanted to see how I’d do under pressure. They wanted to see who would respond under pressure and who wouldn’t. It was a bit of a shock.
That was the first big change I remember in the election process. I know there were other improvements around the process but none of them stick in my mind quite like the unexpected hour-long grilling.
The next big change I remember was after the 2009 elections. Andy Warren was unhappy with the election process and wanted to make some changes. He worked with Hannes at HQ and they came up with a better set of processes. I think Andy moved PASS in the right direction. Nonetheless, after the 2010 election even more people were very publicly clamoring for changes to our election process.
In August of 2010 we had a choice to make. There were numerous bloggers criticizing the Board and our upcoming election. The easy change would be to announce that we were changing the process in a way that would satisfy our critics. I believe that a knee-jerk response to criticism is seldom correct.
Instead the Board spent August and September and October and November listening to the community. I visited two SQLSaturdays and asked questions of everyone I could. I attended chapter meetings and asked questions of as many people as they’d let me. At Summit I made it a point to introduce myself to strangers and ask them about the election. At every breakfast I’d sit down at a table full of strangers and ask about the election. I’m happy to say that I left most tables arguing about the election. Most days I managed to get 2 or 3 breakfasts in.
I spent less time talking to people that had already written about the election. They were already expressing their opinion. I wanted to talk to people that hadn’t spoken up. I wanted to know what the silent majority thought. The Board all attended the Q&A session where our members expressed their concerns about a variety of issues including the election.
The PASS Board also chose to create the Election Review Committee. We wanted people from the community that had been involved with PASS to look at our election process with fresh eyes while listening to what the community had to say and give us some advice on how we could improve the process. I’m a part of this as is Andy Warren. None of the other members are on the Board. I’ve sat in numerous calls and interviews with this group and attended an open meeting at the Summit. We asked anyone that wanted to discuss the election to come speak with us. The ERC held an open meeting at the Summit and invited anyone to attend. There are forums on the ERC web site where we’ve invited people to participate. The ERC has reached to key people involved in recent elections.
The years that I haven’t mentioned also saw minor improvements in the election process. Off the top of my head I don’t recall what exact changes were made each year. Specifically since the 2010 election we’ve gone out of our way to seek input from the community about the process. I’m not sure what more we could have done to invite feedback from the community.
I think to say that we haven’t “fixed” the election process isn’t a fair criticism at this time. We haven’t rushed any changes through the process. If you don’t see any changes in our election process in July or August then I think it’s fair to criticize us for ignoring the community or ask for an explanation for what we’ve done.
Andy’s main point was that the PASS Board hasn’t changed in response to our members wishes. I think I’ve shown that time and time again the PASS Board has changed in response to what our members want. There are only two outstanding issues: Summit location and elections. The 2013 Summit location hasn’t been decided yet. Our work on the elections is also in progress. And at every step in the election review we’ve gone out of our way to listen to the community and incorporate their feedback on the process.
I also hope I’m not encouraging everyone that wants some change in the organization to organize a “blog rush” against the Board. We take public suggestions very seriously but we also take the time to evaluate those suggestions and learn what the rest of our members think and make a measured decision.