Alright. So my last post (PASS Is Not The SQL Community) generated some interesting feedback so far and it was posted later on a Friday. I am sure there will be some more generated. In the meantime I wanted to put up a quick post with a disclaimer and something more constructive.

Disclaimer

I think it was clear on the other post but I really like PASS. I have a lot of respect for those on the Board who I have interacted with or worked with. I also am just asking these questions because they have been on my mind for almost two years now. I don’t have answers. I also don’t expect that anyone really cares about my individual thoughts. I just hope to generate conversations and feedback (I am not even an influencer in the SQL Community or SQL PASS space, but I hope that the influencers will want to explore these further with more feedback). I also did mean to be constructive in that last post but wanted to add more here.

What Can PASS Do For Me?

This is my blog, so I get the luxury of typing away whether or not folks want to hear it. But Andy Warren and Bill Graziano asked some good questions in the original post and I wanted to answer it –

(in no specific order)

Chapters

I’ve been running a chapter for almost a year now. I haven’t done much interaction with PASS here other than signing paperwork when starting and getting a slide deck each month to talk about “PASS stuff”. They know this as Brian Kelley commented in the last post and are working on it. Here is what I’d love to see for support:

  • Contact –> When folks register, require some level of location information. Maybe identify your region at least. Then send out mailings for Chapters about meetings/events targeted to potential new members.
  • Speakers –> I’d love to see some better management of speakers and speaker resources. I don’t know if it has to be PASS doing it, Microsoft or someone in the community but I think PASS could tap our resources to do it. Scope creep filled wish list?
    • Speakers Bio and Skill Set Information
    • Searchable by skills , “home location”, presentation levels offered, etc  (can I get an SSRS speaker in New England at such and such a date? First step is finding who qualifies by region, skill and “level 200”)
    • Ability for a speaker to note when traveling to a region with availability for User Groups (I’d love to get pinged with something like “Brent Ozar is traveling to New England)
    • Better Community Calendar (or Calendars, perhaps region by region, including national events). For planning regional events, special meetings, etc.
    • Better interaction with sponsors (again even by region to help)

Conferences

  • Keep doing what they are doing with the event planning, organization, etc.
  • Don’t go all community choice (do some still like this year) since so many just don’t vote.
  • Let the small ideas continue to grow (Lightning Talks, Birds of a Feather lunch, Chalk Talks, for examples)
  • More 500 Level Presentations – A Masters Track? I’ve heard that one from a few people.
  • Let SQL Saturday stay loose with low rules and more support from PASS HQ. I’d be fine saying take the PASS Sponsorship dollars and pay for Project Management/Hand Holding instead. We can find sponsor dollars and getting more on staff help will help “us” busy “community leaders”
  • Remember the Rally is an independent event. It shouldn’t be a stepping stone for the Summit only (it is GREAT if it works out that way) but it should be a totally independent and successful event. Really study to see how this and SQL Saturday interact.

Volunteer

The Board of Directors do a great job thinking up ideas. There are a core set of people who volunteer a lot. Make it easier to volunteer:

  • Parse out smaller tasks
  • Setup a web site where tasks can be chosen and fulfilled
  • When I first signed up to volunteer in 2006 – it took awhile to hear something, make it easier to sign up and quicker to contact volunteers

Vendor/Microsoft Advisory

How can we better form teams and ranks to provide feedback to SQL Server vendors and to Microsoft. I think this is a huge service with a huge talent pool largely untapped right now.

How Does PASS Become Something to Put on Resume?

I don’t know but how do we become an organization that carries weight and impact? I wouldn’t mind having to pay for membership someday if there is some impact. I don’t want content, content is free these days and I’m not a member of a five letter organization because I’m not interested in paying for their content. How can we make membership more valuable? Or are we already valuable enough? I am curious for feedback here but some random thoughts:

  • More focus groups with Microsoft?
  • Access to “insider training?” I don’t know though, look at the MCM videos for free.
  • Webchats with MS developers/insiders? Again, I don’t know, we get those already and the MVPs have that down for us as well.
  • Licensure? Certification? I don’t know, as it is many employers don’t even know what an MCM is still.

It’s The People

When I’ve been in a tough spot at a job, it has typically been the coworkers that kept me there longer than I should. The best part of PASS is the part that doesn’t even have a letter in the acronym… Professional Association of SQL Server Users. We are great because our membership is great. Because we are diverse, qualified and help each other out.

Can the organization do more to harness that? I think things like the 24 Hours Of PASS and ideas like making themed 24 hours of PASS are great ways to do this. I think working hard to welcome new attendees to the Summit is a great way to do this.

How else can we do this outside of the Summit? How can we make more people know what PASS is? This goes back to the something to put on the resume question but it begs another question –

R E S P E C T

How do we make PASS a household name? Well alright a technology workplace and workforce name? This is tough. On the first night of our User Group meeting, a lot of folks didn’t know who PASS was, didn’t know who Brent Ozar was and didn’t even know who Paul Randal was. A lot knew about SQL Server Central because it is a resource they use.

So how do we become a name that DBAs, Data Developers, BI people and their management know right when they hear it? Do we offer free online workshops that are a bit more than the one hour VC presentation and does more in the way of training? Do we partner with recruiting firms and show them what value we offer (once we figure out that value) to their prospective placements?

I’ll stop but these are some of the questions and thoughts that come up. I’d also really like to see the Board work on creating a vision statement (or updating it), mission statement and checking it out with the community.

But.. We need to do our part also. Not enough of us vote. Not enough of us comment. We just go to the events and move on. And yet, I still wrestle with – Is this a problem? To me, I think it is because I’d like to see PASS be what PASS started out to be and see more people help set the direction… A non profit user association is only as good as its membership cares. On the other hand, the Summit and online events would still go on.

What are your thoughts?

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