Reviewing the Election Process

April 2, 2013 – Serving on the PASS Board of Directors is a rich and rewarding experience. It’s also a responsibility that should not be entered into lightly. As we prepare for this year’s elections season, we have the opportunity to review the process for involving and evaluating candidates and for taking full advantage of this chance for the community to come together and share in the vision for PASS.

As part of a lean, not-for-profit, community organization, we must also evaluate the time invested in the election process to protect the return on community investment. With this in mind, a subset of the PASS Board is leading a review of the election process, and we are seeking your feedback on these objectives and their direction.

The objectives set out by the committee are threefold:

These objectives may expand or contract based on your feedback. Please share your thoughts with the team by emailing ElectionProcessReview@sqlpass.org or by posting on the Elections Feedback site.

Achieving Success
The team has also given serious consideration as to how these objectives may be achieved. We would like to get your input on these proposals too as we will discuss them at the next board meeting, which will take place in Chicago on the 8th-9th of April. We are continuing to shape our plans and ideas, and commit to open communication as we move forward in the coming weeks and months with changes to the election process.

Inspiring Candidates
Of the goals identified, this is the most important one to me. We do need to inspire more well-qualified community members to apply and share their experience at the board level. We are also keen to ensure that we attract an international audience. It is important to remember that as part of the Global Growth program, we will have at least one regional seat in 2013 (for the US and Canada). I will also be asking the board to vote in the April Board Meeting to create the EMEA regional seat.

Our focus at this time is to:

  1. Proactively encourage candidates to apply
  2. Reduce the burden on candidates applying to run
  3. Make it easier for candidates to campaign for votes

As part of his work with the new Volunteers portfolio, Sri Sridharan has taken up the challenge to identify ways to encourage members to apply for the board. We realise we cannot simply wait for people to apply nor rely on our own networks. We must make it clear what the benefits of being part of the board are and also outline the commitments involved.

We can make two significant improvements to the application process that will make it less onerous for candidates:

  1. One form. Currently the candidate needs to fill out an application form and then provide separate campaign materials. We should make this simpler and more coherent.
  2. Max two references. In my application during the 2012 election, I provided eight separate references. That’s more than I’ve provided for any job ever!

Finally, by providing a more structured program of events and activities during the campaigning process, we can make it easier for candidates to be heard. It also helps to level the playing field.

Streamlining the Election Process
There are a number of changes we are thinking about to streamline the overall process. By shrinking the timescales, we aim to inject greater interest and enthusiasm into the election process. It is difficult to sustain interest when a process is drawn out. We believe we can optimise the schedule to really help drive interest with these changes:

  1. Reduce Nomination Committee (NomCom) workload
  2. Create a single time period for campaigning and voting
  3. Significantly reduce the time period for campaigning and voting from 23 days to around 7 days

Part of the NomCom’s workload is driven by the data they are provided by the candidates. We need to ensure that simplifying the application process for the candidate doesn’t dramatically increase the workload of the NomCom. In an ideal world, the workload would be reduced for both parties – so that is the goal.

Improving Opportunities for Community Engagement
To date, the opportunities for the community to engage with candidates have been limited to the PASS election forums. We are looking to improve this area significantly and hope to share more with you in due course. Wendy Pastrick will be spearheading this area of the initiative. Items under consideration are as follows:

  1. Increased use of social media
  2. Enhanced layout of candidates web page
  3. Improved reach by making election content accessible to the widest audience we can

By improving the accessibility of campaign materials and providing greater public interaction with candidates, we aim to significantly increase the engagement level between candidate and community during the election process.

We are in the process of defining what this is all going to look like. However, you should expect much greater use of social media, such as hosted Twitter Q&As with candidates, to really drive a deeper, more personal and impactful campaigning period in this election.

INSERT <Your Idea> HERE
Being on the PASS Board is a fantastic experience, but it does not give anyone sole rights to good ideas! Please share yours with us. Feel free to post them to the Elections Feedback site or in private via the ElectionProcessReview@sqlpass.org email alias.

Thank you for your time,
JRJ