PASS Board Meeting Update - by Andy Warren

I’m just back from the March 2010 Board meeting and it went better than usual (for any meeting). Most of arrived Sunday afternoon/evening and after a bit of social time I spent about four hours with Hannes, Craig, and Blythe working on SQLSaturday transition stuff (lots of details next week, but we’ve made good progress!) and then chatting with Rushabh for a while too. Worked right through dinner and by the end I could barely talk, had been fighting a minor cold and all the talking just made it worse.

Expected to get up Monday really sick, but the cold medicine had helped, and we started the meeting on time. We talked through some adjustments to the agenda and then started working. Normally I try to share a lot of the details of the meeting, but this time I’m going to wait for the minutes to come out because we’ve agreed to greatly increase the level of detail. Don’t expect perfection on the first try, but our goal is to show you a really good summary of what we discuss, with bullets of the pros and cons that we saw.

We’ve also agreed to discuss as little as possible in executive session. There are some things not appropriate to disclose; salaries (privacy concerns), things that we discuss under NDA with Microsoft, some details of our Summit strategy that might give a competitor an advantage, etc. I think the Board fully understands that we need to be as transparent as possible and I think we made huge strides in that direction. We still have to execute, but the intent is now there as never before.

This changes things in interesting ways. One is that when we get into brain storming mode we tend to talk all at once, or at least more than one at a time, making it really hard for Blythe from HQ to keep good notes that in turn will generate good minutes. What we plan to do next time is do a quick flip chart summary at the end of each topic, that gives us all a chance to make sure we reflect all the major points and is also a checkpoint to make sure that we haven’t violated any privacy/NDA type concerns. It should also make it a lot easier to get the minutes out faster for review by the members.

It was the most effective PASS meeting I’ve attended. We stuck to our revised agenda and actually finished up a few minutes early. I don’t know that we’ve mastered meetings, but we’re gradually moving to an approach where we hammer out some concepts and send them off for work rather than trying to nail down the finished product. A full meeting is still a bit chaotic when we’re kicking around ideas, but it’s workable. We’ll have another in person meeting in either June or August and if we can repeat it then, we’ll have a formula we can document and maintain.
 

- Andy Warren