Last fall, and winter, and spring I was part of the PASS Election Review Committee. It was interesting, sometimes fun, sometimes frustrating, but a very rewarding experience.
My first PASS conference was in the fall of 2003, and I've attended every one since then. The PASS community, as I've gotten to know it, has been supportive at all times, with the singular purpose of getting us, as data professionals focused on SQL Server, the best information we can get to help us succeed. Over the years I've been involved with PASS I've made friends around the world, and my professional life has progressed beyond any reasonable expectation. That would not have happened without PASS and the community around it.
In the last few years, as I've gotten to know people better, I've become privy to more "inside" information - personality traits, some conflicts, that kind of thing. I've become more aware of the 'political' aspect of the community, and the personalities behind it. It's not a 'bad' thing, it's the way life is. It's interesting, and sometimes disturbing. People who are my friends sometimes don't get along with other people who are my friends. It's ok, life is like that. It's part of maturing within an organization.
One of the things I've learned to do is to (mostly) keep my opinions to myself. (Trust me, if you'd known me for any length of time you'd find that incredibly hard to believe.) In 1980/81 I worked with a guy who'd gotten himself and his family out of Romania, when that was an extremely dangerous thing to do. I asked him once about living under such a regime, and he told me that in Romania 'You can think anything you want'. I've learned that that's a useful mantra here, today, in my everyday life.
Don't get me wrong, I value openness, and I think that it's good that we share our problems, because it allows us to help others who may encounter similar problems, or it may help to get those problems resolved. I also think that there's a lot of sharing that shouldn't be shared. It's one thing to rant, it's entirely another to be hurtful.
So, when the issue of openness came up in our ERC deliberations I listened, but I honestly believe that there are decisions that PASS must make that they must keep private. Sometimes decisions that on the surface don't seem to have any negative effect could hurt someone. I'm pleased with the balance we achieved on this topic with our recommendations to the board for the nominating committee. I think there must be a NomCom so some of the issues that should remain private can do so.
The call is out there now for members of the Nominating Committee. If you meet the qualifications - and yes, there are reasonable qualifications everyone must meet to be considered - then please consider taking the time to participate. It will help PASS select the best candidates for the board, and it will help you gain insight into how this great organization we all benefit from really works.
I look forward to seeing you at the PASS Summit in October.