Ramblings

Getting things done on the PASS Board

Previously I’ve written about many things I’ve done while on the PASS Board.  It’s often easy to take credit as a member of the board for doing things with PASS.  The reality though is that there’s always more to it than just deciding to do something, digging in and personally accomplishing some goal.  PASS is lucky to have a paid staff that executes on many of our objectives. This staff collectively is often referred to simply as “HQ” and they are the primary source of continuity within the organization.

PASS HQ

PASS HQ consists of about 16 people who are permanent salaried staff and at times (summit) upwards of a dozen additional contractors.  The Community Evangelists (Karla Landrum and Niko Neugebauer) will be the most likely contact points for most community members however they are just the front lines. The other people within the HQ team are where much of the additional work happens that allows us to put on great events like the Summit.  These largely unsung heroes of the SQL community do the majority of the heavy lifting from day to day and in many ways should be recognized as critical members of our SQL Community even if most of them wouldn’t know a tempdb from a checkdb.

Relationships matter

Learning to work within the HQ structure is very important for Board members as HQ has such a huge impact on all things PASS that they can greatly contribute to helping make a board member’s priorities a reality or conversely they can contribute to that same board member’s priorities languishing.  I’m happy to say that in the years I’ve been volunteering with PASS, I have taken the time to build strong relationships across the organization that allow me to get things done effectively.  Building these relationships has not always been a cakewalk, in fact far from it, but adversity seems to have had a way of making the working relationship I have within PASS HQ better.  Knowing where to turn within HQ to get answers or to unstick a hung process has proven to be invaluable in my tenure as a volunteer with PASS and now even more so as a Board member.

Please consider voting for me. I’m running for the PASS Board of Directors, and I need your help to make a difference. Click here to read about why I’m running.

Evolving PASS

I’m running for the PASS board of directors again this year

While everyone running for the open Board positions is certainly qualified, I believe I am the best candidate for two primary reasons.  First, I have a plan for how I want to evolve the organization.  Second, I have a long, well documented history of executing on those plans and delivering results for PASS.

Evolutionary Plans

 

  • Chapters – I’ve already documented many of the specific things Id like to see us change with how PASS supports local chapters including

Community evangelists are providing a great resource, I will continue to refine this roles responsibilities

Continue to refine tools & document PASS’s processes to provide a higher level of support

Plan to drive more value from Regional Mentors by honing their responsibilities into an interesting role for our community leaders

Finish a detailed plan for how PASS can facilitate sponsoring our chapters financially through different avenues

  • Maintain Transparency & Increase Communications

I will champion all board members communicating about their work for PASS to the membership regularly.

I plan to continue working for more transparency in all matters related to the board

  • Evolving the next generation of Leaders – Increasing Community Involvement

Enable board level involvement from volunteers who aren’t on the board through forming board level committees that include volunteers

Develop a board mentorship program where prospective board members are identified and paired up with existing and ex board members to expand their understanding of how the board functions

Further formalize and promote the process we use to recognize volunteer achievements at all levels in the PASS organization

  • Professionalism

I want to see PASS become more professional.  PASS should stop unnecessarily limiting our membership benefits to education and networking opportunities alone.

The board should be setting goals for defining how we can expand our member benefits beyond the current strategy of education/networking

 

The plans outlined above can impact every SQL Server Professionals career in a positive manner and take PASS to new heights.  I want the opportunity to deliver on these plans in the same way I have delivered on my past plans for PASS

 

If you believe in these changes and you like how I communicate them, consider voting for me. I’m running for the PASS Board of Directors, and I need your help to make a difference.  Click here to read about why I’m running.

Im Running for the PASS Board of Directors – Again

My PASS History

Serving on the PASS Board for the last 2 years has been a great experience, in those two years I’ve accomplished more with PASS than I expected yet  there is still more I’d like to see happen.  This is the primary reason I’ve decided to run for re-election to another 2 year term on the board.

During my initial year on the board there was definitely a learning curve.  Even after spending a long period of time as a volunteer, coming up to speed was quite a bit tougher than I had expected.  During the first year I asked for and was assigned the portfolio of the Summit Program committee which I had previously been volunteering on.  Having a familiar tactical duty during that first year while figuring out the learning curve of strategic leadership on the board was very helpful.  After my first year on the board, which was my 5th working on the program committee I realized I wanted a new challenge.  I knew I wanted to work on one of the biggest problems I thought PASS had so, I did a bit of lobbying and starting in January of this year I was given the Global Chapters Portfolio.  After spending some extended time with Karla Landrum (Blog|twitter) and several regional mentors it became obvious that I had underestimated the amount of work that chapters were going to need from me.  During this time it also fully sunk in to me the level of impact PASS could have by making it easier to be a chapter leader.  In the 9 months since them, I have seen a whirlwind of activity around what we’re doing for chapters and I’m proud to say that I feel like the community is starting to see some real changes in PASS’s support of chapters.

The decision

In some ways making the decision to run for the board again this year was a tough one for me.  In my estimation in order to be truly successful on the board and make a difference the community can see/feel it takes an average of at least 5 hours a week.  Likewise, if a board member wants to tackle some of the tougher issues that number can easily double, triple or more.  By no means am I saying this is an absolutely required amount of time, rather that this is what I considered the commitment to be by re-running for the board.  As much as I might have liked to convince myself that I could spend less time on next terms PASS duties, I recognize that I have an unfortunate personality trait where I cant seem to figure out how to do things at any other setting than “all-in” so while scaling back sounds good in theory, it never seems to work out for me personally.  In the end though my desire to finish what I’ve started and hopefully solve a few other issues drove me to decide to re-run for the board.

There’s more to do

In the last 9 months we’ve made a lot of improvements but, there is still a large amount of work to do for our chapters.  I plan on spending the coming board term putting in place the tools, processes and documentation that I believe will help our worldwide chapter leaders spend less time worying about the logistics of their groups and more time building and growing these great local groups.  In order to do this effectively I’ve been focusing on two specific facets of our chapter support.  Regional Mentors and their roles, as well as Chapter leader tools.  I expect that during the middle of next year the chapter tools will be significantly complete and additional things will be added to the list of things Im focusing on improving.  In order to tactically bring about real change, I believe it’s very important to focus on a couple of chapter needs at a time. The difficulty is that PASS chapters have many needs so juggling this and drawing clear lines is often quite a challenge especially as these priorities have to fit into the overall strategic PASS organization priorities.

Other Opportunities

In addition to everything I want to see accomplished for Chapters, I am also committed to working on a couple of other things within the PASS Board I should mention.

  • Transparency – I believe we have made great strides in this area recently and I’d like to see us continue the upward trend and I plan on continuing to lead the board towards a greater level of transparency.  One thing in particular that I will champion is for every board member to communicate with the membership regularly.  For an organization like ours, I believe this is critical in maintaining trust and transparency while giving candid thoughts about the direction of our organization.  Since taking my seat on the board I’ve made 31 blog posts in the category SQLPASS. As I’ve been seated on the board for roughly 21 months that makes for an average of nearly 1.5 blog posts about PASS per month.  I’m not completely happy with that post count as I had intentions on doing better but, I believe our community is better off for having this sort of information freely (and candidly) available.
  • Community involvement – I believe PASS’s greatest asset is our volunteers and we’re currently missing opportunities to involve them at all levels of our organization.  In my past role as leader of the Program committee I did a pretty good job of involving as many volunteers as reasonably possible to run that portfolio.  As the Chapter Portfolio leader I haven’t expanded involvement greatly because we already had a large group of very dedicated volunteers but, as opportunities arise I plan to involve more volunteers.  Looking for other areas within the organization to involve more volunteers should be a priority for every board member and our organization as a whole.  Increasing volunteer participation leads me directly into my my next point
  • Leadership growth – PASS needs to do more to promote our next generation of leaders, in order to do that we must involve volunteers more at all levels of the organization.  We need to create opportunities for volunteers to participate in the decision making process, especially near the top of the organization.  I hope to do this by convincing the board to transition from the current portfolio system to a system where board members serve as chairs on small committees with volunteers from our membership.  Changing this process is going to become even more critically important in the near future as we pursue our international growth goals and dedicate some board seats to our international members.

If you believe in these changes and you like how I communicate them, consider voting for me. I’m running for the PASS Board of Directors, and I need your help to make a difference.  Click here to read about why I’m running.

PASS Summit call for speakers reminder

At the begining of this year, I gave the reigns of the annual summit program committee to Adam Jorgensen (Blog|Twitter) and I havent looked back… Much!  Of course after being involved with a system for so many years its hard to completely let go (ok its not really hard to forget the work!)  but, aside from the occassional questions I havent really looked a lot at whats happening in the Program Committee this year.  Id like to congratulate those volunteers lucky enough to be chosen to help select abstracts for the summit and if I knew your names, Id call you out but it seems the public listing of volunteers has been removed.  You’ve got a daunting task to get through the 800 or so abstracts that im sure will be submitted but, without you, the summit would surely be a lot more bland!!  For those of us would be speakers in the SQL Server space, I also noticed something that unless youve been living under a rock youve probably already seen as well.  Abstract submissions need to be completed by Sunday May 13 AKA 5 days from NOW!.  Since no time is specified I’ll make a wild guess (yes its truly a guess) and say they close at Midnight Pacific time.  but why deopend on a guess, make sure to get those abstracts submitted sooner rather than later.  It appears as though the wait to get the results of the selection will be over before it really starts as they are due to be released on Jun 8

New PASS Chapters Leader on the PASS BOD

This is a blog post that should have been published about 3 weeks ago.  Better late than never I suppose….

With all endings there is a beginning.  I’ve written previously about deciding to take on a different role within the PASS organization in 2012.  I’m excited to say that I convinced the leaders within the BOD to let me have a chance at leading the Global Chapters portfolio.  What does this mean to the two of you reading this?  Likely not much but, to myself and a few hundred chapter leaders and regional mentors I’m hoping it means the beginning of a great run of imrovements to the Chapters program within PASS.  For the past weeks I’ve been working very closely with our wonderful Community Evangelist Karla Landrum (Blog|Twitter) and her counterparts within PASHQ to learn everything that I possibly can about what our chapters are doing, and what they need to grow and thrive.  What I’ve learned is somewhat what I already knew and can be summed up in 4 words!

We have unmet needs!!

After staffing the Community Evangelist role last year it appears as though some of the pain points with running a chapter have been alleviated however, it seems as though there are still plenty of places that could use some improvement.  One of the first things I have attempted to do is to get approval to spend PASS IT time on improving the suite of tools we provide to make managing a chapter easier.  While I have a list of things I’d like to see these tools become based on feedback I’ve personally received from my friends in the community, I would like to encourage all PASS RM’s & CL’s to get in contact with me though any means available.  I’d like for every PASS Chapter Leader/Regional Mentor to list the top 2-3 things they’d like the chapter tools to do that would make running their chapter easier and send those to me.  I obviously cant say we’ll address everything but, this year I intend to see to it that we address as many as possible.

Connect Share Learn

While this is the simplified version of the overall PASS mission statement, it is applicable here as well. I want to encourage you to reach out to me and connect, in order to share your successes and pain points in leading a PASS chapter so that hopefully we can each learn from it.  My contact info is at the top right of this page, connect with me on linked in and drop me an email to bend my ear if you’d like to talk about anything remotely related to SQL Server, PASS Chapters or the SQL Server Community at large.  Ill be “the guy” trying to keep the ship on course for at least the next calendar year and I plan to make the best of it.

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