Here comes High Gear

Things have really started to move lately, We’ve officially started the Program Committee for 2010.Things are changing

We received 53 applications this year from members hoping to help out on the program committee.  That’s a huge number for us, When I joined in 2007 I think I was accepted by default because we didn’t have enough volunteers.  in 2008 there were approximately 20, last year we had 23.  Obviously we’re gaining some attention in the process of making the education program at the annual pass summit the best year after year.

Selecting the abstract review teams

With so many applicants, selecting the teams was quite a chore this year.  Its like interviewing for an open position at your company but instead of having 1 position, you have 17 open and instead of a hand-full of qualified applicants, you get a boatload.  That pretty much sums up the experience every year but, this year it was twice as bad as I remember it being in the past (possibly because of the doubling in applicants).  In the end, the quest to fill these teams took quite a bit of time, unfortunately just like selecting employees for your day job, there is really no best way to make the selections.  I should have probably just used a dartboard for the selections but, I didn’t want to disservice those that had taken the time to apply.  After quite a few iterations of making sure everyone was in the team that best leverages their skill sets, the new volunteers were notified.

Changes

The program Committee Portfolio changed hands in the PASS BOD this year, the new owner is Jeremiah Peschka.  Overall my experience with Jeremiah has been the same as my experience with the prior 2 Board members I worked with on Program, they’ve all been nothing but great.  We have already started batting around a couple of major changes to the Program Committee.

Thing 1

I tricked convinced Lori Edwardsto join the program committee as an adhoc project manager unfortunately we haven’t found a jazzy title that sticks yet, so she’s currently known as the task team leader, I hope we can properly anoint her later.  With 17 applicants added to the abstract review teams, we moved the other 36 people who applied into a task group that Lori has the joy task of managing.  Having a dedicated volunteer leader to manage the side projects that always come up should change the way we get things done and hopefully without me being the bottleneck, things will happen even faster.  This year the program committee has many things we want to accomplish, in addition to the regular things that we have to do to put on the summit every year.  I am hopeful this setup will prove to be one that works well, and we can refine and document the process so it can be reused in future years.

Thing 2

Abstract Committee Abstention.  In the past we didn’t have a policy about the abstract review volunteers submitting abstracts in the same track as they are reviewing abstracts in.  This was usually handled internally to each track and that member abstained from all discussion and ranking of their abstract.  This year however, we alerted every potential abstract reviewer that they wouldn’t be allowed to submit abstracts to their review track.  This rule may exclude some volunteers from reviewing abstracts in the future but, it just made sense from the transparency standpoint.

New Summit Management Software

panicThe new summit software selection is causing some of our critical timeline dates to need to be adjusted.  I’m not in a full panic defcon 5  mode yet but, If we don’t have a working environment in the new software by the end of next week, Ill be pulling the panic alarm.  Configuring a site to accept abstracts, and manage the speaker experience takes an unbelievable amount of time and right now we’re still waiting for the final paperwork & approvals.  Sliding the call for abstracts back doesn’t effect much of the planning for the summit except it compresses our timelines for getting the sessions selected and posted to the summitt website.  Currently we’re aiming for a mid April call for speakers opening, with the actual call running approximately 30 days.

Speaker Resources

Brad started working on this years update/changes to the speaker resource pages on the sqlpass website.  These sorts of changes are always interesting since they cross over a couple of portfolio’s.  I’m hoping that we can collapse the 2 pages currently posted into one page that is less confusing, or potentially 2 pages that work better together and don’t overlap as much as the existing pages.

Lots of new ideas coming, expect a new blog post tomorrow outlining one of the more controversial (potentially) Ideas I’d like to get some community feedback on.