I’ve been wanting to write this for a while, but have been waiting for the board elections to close. Lots of stuff happening in the community related to elections, so I’ll share some thoughts, and answer questions that relate to the extent I know the answers!
First, I thought we didn’t serve the community well throughout the election process, with the most obvious part of that being that we presented four candidates for three positions, when we had eleven candidates to start with. I believe that Kevin and the nominating team applied their standards fairly and based on what good for PASS, but I think that happened in a vacuum. But rather than complain about that, I’d rather talk about where we should go on elections. My thoughts:
- All applications for board seats should be published, perhaps omitting home address/phone type data
- The nominating committee needs more direction:
- The sitting board should vote or at least be involved in those selected (have to watch conflict of interests here)
- The board should be notified of the criteria and scoring system to make sure they are vetting candidates appropriately
- Results of scoring the applications should be published, as should the scores from interviews – full disclosure
- We should amend the by-laws to require the committee to return a slate comprised of at least the number of vacancies plus two, provided candidates are available, and return that based on the scores
- I don’t think SQL Server experience is required to serve on the board, but it shouldn’t be discounted either. There are cases where it would make sense. In most cases though I would rather appoint them as advisors (supported already in the by-laws) with access to board meetings, but no vote. But…I’d be open to making it a rule if the members felt strongly (not sure how to measure that, and they do get to vote on the slate)
- We do need a discussion about who we might disqualify. I think there are a few cases where it might make sense, but in general I support letting the members decide
Nothing that went wrong was done out of ill intent, for the most part the election was the same as it has been for the past few years. Something to keep in mind!
The next part is about community involvement and criticism. You don’t have to volunteer to run for the board to be critical, or even volunteer. I hope you’ll try to make it constructive criticism. Like most people I like praise a lot better than criticism, but I’ll do my best to listen and not get defensive, and I think the same is true of all the board members. If we do get defensive (and we will at some point), I can offer a couple tips for all:
- Remember that they are volunteers and people – yes, hold them accountable, but remember that we all get defensive at times
- Focus on issues and not people to the extent we can
- Try to see it from the other side. Doesn’t mean you can’t criticize, but good to ask if there are complexities not easily seen/previously disclosed
The other part it to remember that just like politics here in the US, we won’t always agree. That’s ok, but we are all on the same side I think. I don’t think I know better than any of you, but on any given day I vote based on my own experience, ethics, information available. Maybe you would vote differently – that’s ok. Email me that we don’t agree, show me a good argument, I might change direction, or learn for the next time. But…remember, that you don’t necessarily know better than I do either. That’s not a stalemate, it means the more you show me a calm, clear argument, the more likely I’ll listen – and vice versa, though I think the onus is on members to communicate their ideas – just like you should communicate to our elected leaders for those living in the US.
We need ideas, we need big goals, we need to figure out what PASS can really be. Is it just a conference? Conference plus chapters? Education beyond that? Can we expand our focus before getting good at our base goals? In a previous update I posted my idea of what PASS would look like in five years – how about commenting on that, or better yet, posting your own vision? If you could change PASS in three ways, what would they be? Would most members agree?
I like that the community engaged this year. It took a mistake (or poor execution if you will) to make that happen. We need Steve Jones and Brent Ozar and others filling the role of the press, we need people debating if we should require board members to be SQL professionals. This is my 17th update about PASS, go read the other 16. Am I doing enough? Like what I’m doing? Want to know more? I’ve been broadcasting, have you been listening? That’s not meant as a complaint, just that I’d enjoy more feedback. If you’re a blogger you’ll know exactly what I mean!