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I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.

PASS Update #13

It’s been a busy few weeks since update #12. We announced guidelines for submitting content to, an effort that will be managed by Grant Fritchey. I’m looking forward to seeing some new technical content on the site and growing some new authors. Grant tells me he’s already received a handful of abstracts and one article ready for tech review. If you’re interesting in writing, take a look. It’s great experience and looks good on the resume too!

The call for nominations finally went out last week, much later than planned. That’s a combination of a lot of different little things, but the good news is that we have a more detailed plan in place to handle the elections than the year before. I’m hesitant to say “better” until we see how it works out! We made one major change this year, the election will happen and the winners will be announced before the PASS Summit. I was originally against this change because I think there is real value in meeting candidates in person. But as we looked at the overall process, there were a couple of very good reasons to change it:

  • One was that it levels the playing field. Not all candidates can attend the Summit, and certainly not all our members attend (yet!). This way we’ll work on giving them all equal access and visibility, which I think also means our members that aren’t able to attend will be able to make a more informed vote.
  • We’ve opened up the voting to a much wider audience this year, and this part I’m thrilled about. In previous years with the paid membership essentially voters and Summit attendees were the same people. No more, now we plan to open up voting to all of our members and you can see how that makes the first bullet point more interesting.
  • Finally, and I give this one almost as much weight, it’s incredibly important that we do a smooth transfer of responsibilities between incoming and outgoing board members. After each election the President with input from the Board has to decide who will handle which portfolio for the coming year. With elections being announced at the Summit that pushed the decision and the hand off/collaboration into December, not the best time with people doing end of year wrap up and vacation. Now we’ll have a couple weeks to work on assignments before the Summit and bring the new board members into a meeting at the Summit (assuming they can attend) and be well positioned to start the new term.

Speaking of the nominations, if you’re interested please consider applying (see my earlier notes). If you know someone that you think would be a good candidate drop them an email saying that. Often people aren’t sure if they should give it a try or not, some encouragement can make all the difference.

I’m not on the Director nomination committee this time, but I do have a spot on the officer selection committee. The process there is that serving Board members let the committee know of their interest, and then the committee recommends back to the Board a slate for the next two years for President, VP of Finance, and VP of Marketing. Typically, short of something bad happening or someone having to drop out the progression is VP of Marketing to VP of Finance to President. That means each time the Board is selecting a VP of Marketing that they reasonably expect will grow to be President four years later. That process is ok, but I think it may have to change just because it requires a commitment of about 10 years start to finish (including two years as the Immediate Past President) and that’s just a long time to volunteer – too long in my opinion. But that’s probably a discussion for another day.

We’ve set up a LinkedIn group for SQL Bloggers and have had a good reception to that. The idea is that we wanted a way to easily reach bloggers, both to give them news about PASS but also pass on the occasional note about something they might find blog worthy. In return we get a chance to get feedback on our efforts and we’ve already had a couple of good conversations about things we can do to help bloggers. The main thing here in my opinion is for us to do good and not turn this into a marketing group. Absolutely we hope bloggers will post about things like the Summit, but the goal is simply to help bloggers be more successful. Said differently, we should start to look bloggers as “press”. Long term I think that is good for PASS without doing anything more complicated.

I missed the August Board meeting, the first time. Normally I can get away from work for the 3 pm call, but this time it just wasn’t possible. Luckily it was a short meeting with nothing big missed, but it does illustrate the challenge of trying to be a good volunteer while earning a living!

I recently read a book (and can’t find the title, sorry) about serving on a Board of Directors and it really made me stop and think – and left me confused. PASS is fairly atypical with Board members expected to own tasks, in most cases boards only offer guidance. But we’re also in a transition phase where hopefully that changes. Not sure how long that takes, my guess is 2 years at our current pace. Made me realize I’ve not spent enough time thinking about where we should be while we’re on the road to getting there. PASS HQ is moving in that direction, but the confusion for me is figuring out when I’m providing guidance, when I should own something, and when I’m causing havoc by getting involved in something. I’m going to order a couple books from Amazon, I see this as one time when relying on the local library for resources probably hasn’t worked out well. Not sure that’s the most coherent paragraph, my quick summary is that ultimately HQ (full time staff) should own 98% of deliverables, board members should influence the direction heavily but try to stay out of implementation details if possible.


Posted by Steve Jones on 24 August 2009

Thanks for the update. I agree on the volunteer time. While it does make sense for someone to have experience to be the VP or Pres, the progression, IMHO, is not needed. If someone has served on the board for 2 terms, they ought to be eligible for President. Maybe 1 term (2 years). I'd almost think that anyone that has spent time on the board should be able to get to any of the 3 positions.

Posted by Andy Warren on 24 August 2009

There is nothing in the bylaws that mandates the progression, it's just a working guide that has been there for a while.

Posted by jcrawf02 on 24 August 2009

Andy, interesting point that I think a lot of good middle managers and low level workers feel as a frustration, that upper management/board members should *actively avoid* interfering in anything but policy and direction, not actual activities. While there is something to be said for "not asking what you're not willing to do yourself", you also can't be the best at the task AND the best manager (which one assumes is what got them the lead role in the first place). Sounds like you and your compatriots are doing a great job of working through these issues, and wish you continued success. Enjoy the updates, keep 'em coming!


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