Archive for March, 2011

How deep can you dive?

Go deep or stay home!

After last years Summit we launched a feedback site in hopes of gathering all of the feedback about the event in one place.  The number one thing people have asked for on that site is for there to be a track of sessions in the 400-500 level range.  The problems with the community desire for higher level sessions are twofold, one we dont normally get a huge number of session submissions that are at the 400-500 level.  Two, I’ve been told by those who are qualified to present those types of sessions that an hour and fifteen minutes (spotlight) is often not enough time.

Cramped for space

In the past our conference size has dictated the floor-plans at the conference center and we’ve been  maxed out at 14 concurrent sessions.  This year however, because of anticipated attendee growth, the logistical geniuses at PASS HQ were able to add another session room (I’m looking at you Anika and Craig).  With this new room I have options on what to do with the extra session rooms!!

Changes for the Summit 2011

This year we’ll be using the space we gained from the new room addition to have longer deep dive sessions.  The current idea is to offer these longer sessions in hopes that they will attract presenters who are qualified to present these deeper dive sessions. Currently, the plan is to have a maximum of 6 deep dive (lvl 400 or 500 only) 3 hour sessions.  Because of the way the schedule is laid out, we will run 2 of these sessions concurrently every conference day.

Rules… Yeah there’s always rules

We will accept abstracts for this new session type in the same manner as a regular abstract.  That is to say anyone can submit a half day abstract.  If you submit an abstract for a 1/2 day session it will count as one of your 4 allowed abstract submissions.  The session selection for these sessions will be handled by the regular respective abstract review teams.  Even though we are going to allow anyone to submit abstracts for these sessions, it should go without saying that if you don’t have prior experience or reputation for being able to give an extended, strong 400-500 level session it may be best to focus on a regular summit session.  What I mean by this is for these particular sessions we will be instructing the review teams to weigh the speakers perceived ability to deliver the session higher than we normally would for a regular session.

Possible Hiccups i.e. Changes

Two things could change with these sessions.

  • I am considering making the sessions 4 hours long (roughly 3 regular session slots).  If we do that the maximum number of sessions would drop to four.  I’m leaning heavily away from this but, if anyone has a strong opinion on this I’ll listen
  • Depending on the quantity and quality of the abstracts we receive, we may have less than the maximum sessions shown above (4 or 6)
  • Im still considering a single DBA 101 “Accidental DBA” type session for one of these sessions but havent been swayed that there is more interest there than there is in deep dives

PASS Resources Revealed

What has PASS been up to?

This is where the treasure is!

Ever find yourself with tons of extra time just looking for something to dig through?

yeah, me neither… But, I do make it a point to go out and read through lots of PASS documents regularly.  Sure, Some of those documents are not for public consumption but, a large portion of them are available for any PASS Member to view.  Almost all of them will require you to be logged in to the PASS site.

A good starting point is the PASS Governance Page <- lots of good stuff hides on this page, Im working on getting this page removed from behind the login wall

PASS BOD Meeting Minutes are posted on the left hand side

The Feb 2011 Minutes are here

  • Good discussions in here about Globalization of PASS, especially revolving around events

The Jan 2011 Minutes are here

  • This was an in-person meeting and there is a literal ton of info in here.  Highlights are  globalization, Summit 2011 Planning, Summit 2010 Post mortem, 5 Year plans, Bylaw Changes

PASS Monthly Reports are found in the middle on the left

These are gems that reveal the day to day inner workings of the BOD and HQ

The Feb report should be posted in the next day or 2

The Jan report however, is here

  • In here You’ll find things about Chapters, IT Projects, Marketing initiatives, ERC info, Sponsorship Sales, Summit Program, SQLRally, Gloablization, etc

The Dec report is here

  • This one contains things like Chapter info, HQ Finance, IT Projects, Marketing, Summit, Rally, 24hop, SQL Saturday,

The budget for PASS is included at the bottom of the governance page

2011 Budget is here

  • Wanna know where the money is supposed to be coming from, and where its supposed to be going?  this is where to look.
  • Side note: Im going to check into where the 2010 audited financials are, they should be available by now.

The SQL Rally has posted all of the planning meeting notes posted here

  • There is tons of good stuff in here, its especially interesting to me to watch the minutes back and forth dealing with very familiar problems as what I’ve seen in the Summit program group.
  • Wanna know how many attendees are registered so far for the Rally? yup its in there. Wanna know how many are in Precons?  yup its in there too

We (PASS Program) started posting meeting minutes near the lower left side of this page

  • I have written about these minutes before
  • Good information in here about many new changes that are being considered by the Program Committee
  • Essentially It says that I’m not getting nearly enough done for the program committee lately.  I need to work on that!


  • Im including this here because lost of good stuff gets posted here but, for me I can only find it since its in my RSS Reader.

In Summary, PASS releases a ton of information about what its doing.  The problem with this is two-fold, one its a ton of information.  Two, the information is spread out all over the place and is often difficult to find on the site using conventional browsing methods so I hope this helps

How valuable are good employees

Every successful business knows that its employees are its biggest asset.

As driven employees, we strive to be members of highly functioning teams.  Company management wants a highly effective team, everyone would seem to want the same thing yet it can be hard to achieve for a number of reasons.  Highly effective employees on great teams are the fundamental bedrock of all successful businesses.  But, what is the difference between an average team and an exceptional team?  A interesting discussion I had today about these differences prompted this post.

Are you an above average member of your team?

What makes someone a great technical team member, Is it deep knowledge of a technical subject?  Business application of said technology?  Ability to schmooze the boss?  Any of these things can lead a person to be known as a highly effective employee.  likewise inability to execute on any of these things (plus a host of others!) can lead someone to  be an average performer or worse an under performer.

What are you worth to your team?

Would you consider yourself 10% above average? 20%? , 50%?.  I’ve asked around and when most people are asked their self assessments are that they are at least 20% above average.  With that thought, as a business manager would you consider a 1% above average (what is average anyway ????) employee desirable?

Consider the math

As a team member at a reasonable sized organization lets say you are responsible for 50 Million$ in information (data for the DBA’s reading this).  If you are able to perform at a 1% higher level than average, you should be able to manage about 500K more than an average team member.  If somehow you managed the herculean task of being 20% better than average you’d be able to manage 10 Million$ more.  Likewise If you have a team member who is performing at a lower level , say 1% below average they’d only be able to manage 49.5 Million$.  20% below average and well, lets just say its a bad day to be responsible for 40 Million$.  If you extrapolate those numbers further and compound them yearly for a few years the 1% better employee Vs the 1% underperformer would look something like this

The 1% high performer nets $51,515,050

while the 1% underperforming employee nets $48,514,950

Thats a 3 Million dollar difference for a 1% above average performance. (not bad!!)

End result is the same

The next time you’re debating with your boss about the value you bring to your team, it can be helpful to point out the math especially if you can make a reasonable leap to huge numbers like billions of dollars in assets and 2% above average Vs 1% below.  1 great employee who brings tons to the table and say works at a 5% above average range is potentially worth more than the entire rest of an under-performing team.  Of course, asking your boss for a 500K raise might not go over well either but If you are lucky enough to be able to tie your work product to actual company revenue, this is a great way to show the leaders in your organization how important it is to hire good people, even if they are ONLY better than average by 1%

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