Many of you know recently the PASS board announced that elections will be coming up for three seats on the board for the upcoming term. I believe that the board has come a long way thanks to the efforts of some key individuals. Even so, I believe we have more work to do and we need some fresh experience on the board to help focus on execution, continuing to improve transparency and most of all making PASS more relevant to the everyday lives of its members. For those reasons I've decided to run for one of the 3 open seats coming up on the board. I promise to do all I can to share about me, my thoughts, and goals before you have to cast your ballot.
In preparation for the election coming up I spent last weekend reading all the past minutes, reports, financial statements and other documents that PASS makes available to the board. I have also been talking to many of you about what you'd like to see from the board. That's what this post is about. I'm going to share some thoughts that are my thoughts alone that many of you have echoed and then I'd like to open it up for feedback.
During my time in this community, volunteering, leading and just listening I have noticed a few things. I want to thank many of you who have talked with me about these topics at events around the country in the past months.
The best laid plans
PASS is an organization of well intentioned individuals. Many wonderful people, volunteering their time to do great things and struggling to do good things due to time and other limitations. I see good ideas flowing from some and others focused too much on 'Dialing in our mission'. This is all well and good, but for those of you who know me, you know I believe there is only so much dialing in we need to do before we take real action. We know who PASS serves. The challenge is, many of them do not know we're serving them. If we are serious about increasing membership and involvement, we need to make it worth people's while, not just to get them to show up when it's 24HOP time. We need real actions that we can consistently deliver, that will touch people outside of Summit and the events.
Recently I manned the PASS booth at SQL Saturday Orlando with my cohort Bonnie Allard, President of Space Coast User Group, and when we asked folks coming by if they were familiar with PASS, many of them said no. That was at a SQL Saturday in Orlando, one of the few towns with TWO user groups! I have some ideas on how to improve this execution and outreach and I'll share them throughout the election process.
PASS is also responsible for bringing the community and Microsoft closer. It might be a perception problem, but I don't see this happening. I don't see the impact of an improved Microsoft relationship on the community right now. Getting MS folks to come to Summit is not an improved relationship in my opinion. We have added some longer sessions and labs in the past but again, we're only doing these things during Summit. This should be a year round thing. I know Microsoft is seeking a continual relationship improvement with the folks using their technology. I will share some thoughts on how to do this over the next few weeks.
Stirring the pot
Not to stir this pot again, but I did not weigh in the first time because I'm a believer in the whole count to 3 before you hit send principle. I have an issue with two senior executives from the same firm being on the executive committee or for that matter, the board at the same time. I understand it is not breaking any rules, but I would have voted against that. I read all the comments and notes in response to Kevin Kline's blog post here. I don't believe any of these men to be doing anything hurtful to the board or community and they have a strong history of service. However, if this were any other organization there would be an issue have asymmetrical representation from a firm on the board or the executive committee.
The problem is that when in a position of leadership, you should avoid the perception or possible perception of impropriety. When someone says more influence cannot be exerted when multiple people are subject to the same professional goals and motivations that is incorrect. There have been LOTS of discussion about this and ultimately I agree with Andy Leonard and Bradley Ball's posts that the best way to effect change is to get involved. Help the community understand the challenges facing the board, understand the reasons behind the decisions, etc.. My positions in leadership in the past have required me to make decisions that I knew would not be popular but would be best so I understand that sometimes this must happen but everyone I have talked to about this at events has felt it totally inappropriate. If something requires this much explanation and debate to determine if it's ok and ethical, it's probably not. Hopefully you will not see me write about this again. We need to move forward but recognize and not repeat mistakes.
Ready, Fire Aim' Where are we aiming'
The board has made a lot of progress on transparency and other areas, but what this has shown us in the process is a lack of execution in certain areas. Execution is difficult when people are afraid to delegate or are dealing with volunteers who have competing priorities in their lives(as we all do). I recently heard a board member complain of something that was delivered incorrectly due to some level of delegation to PASS marketing. My problem with that statement was not the complaint. Something wasn't right, this person wasn't happy and the product was definitely not what was desired (significantly different).
My issue was the obvious lack of follow up with marketing to make sure they were going in the desired direction before the materials went to print. These types of mistakes cost PASS dollars and time and cause frustration both within PASS and within the community and make PASS appear ineffective.
I understand we're dealing largely with volunteers but other volunteer organizations manage these processes much more effectively. One area where I have seen execution and 'aiming' improve is in the Regional Mentor program. Karla Landrum's addition to the PASS team to help manage this effort has helped us be more effective and organized as a group and ensure we have consistent presence at events etc. Karla is a great example of someone who excels at details and follow up, hence her early success working with the board and our Regional Mentor Committee, Regional Mentors and our chapters.
Rapping to stay relevant
I would like to see PASS work diligently towards a renewed sense of relevance that sees us focus on the individual member. This includes improving PASS' technology and interaction with the members, more touch points between the leadership and membership, and a better path to/from Microsoft resources for the members. We need to add more value on a daily basis for our membership.
So the moral of this story is ' Don't let me get my soapbox out while I'm on a long flight from Redmond back to Jacksonville' Well sort of, but I'm fired up for the SQL Community and I'm running for the board to make sure we become more relevant, useful, and resourceful than we have ever been before.
What would you like to see from PASS and from the candidates for these three seats to help you decide the best representatives and focus for the board to take' Please comment to this or any other posts on this topic.
I'll be posting more about me later this week and details on the election process. I'll be posting some more about why I feel I would be a great addition to the board to help create and drive the good things further and the bad things further away.
See you out there! Check me out on twitter at @Adam_Jorgensen.
Follow the election buzz on #PASSVotes
Don't forget to register for your Free SQL PASS membership and be eligible to vote in the upcoming board election! http://tinyurl.com/FreePassMembership