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PASS BoD Thoughts

I can’t make the PASS Board Q&A this year at the Summit. I had to fly out early. I spoke with a few board members off and on, though. I wanted to put some thoughts down about an organization that I do care about and have gained much from. Will it be looked at before the board Q&A? Nope – wifi wasn’t working on first flight.

Also – check out the post I wrote yesterday (It’s the data, stupid!) about the changing role of data in our world. The changing role of DBAs in our world. And why I truly think that PASS was acting in the best interests of ALL of US with the name change and adding BAC to their platform..

I’m hitting two angles here:

Random Ponderings

I heard a sentiment from a couple board members. It wasn’t said in an insulting way at all, btw..  The sentiment hit me between the eyes. It was basically “How many meeting minutes have you read?” Not asked in an accusatory tone, but the point was – a lot of us don’t. We don’t engage all the time.

This next thoughts came from no board members but from me. And no one is in my mind as a target on the ones that seem like you want to apply them to a target, though I see myself at times here…

We suck at communicaton…  We need to have better dialog. The board members are not a faceless entity. I’m not saying we give them a free pass when something bad happens that shouldn’t have. I’m not saying we don’t expect excellence and transparency and accountability. I am saying that we need to and should remember that these are our friends in the #sqlfamily still. These are people we can talk to with questions one on one. We should do that more. There are truths, half truths, falsities and outlandish conspiracy theories out there. We gotta stop eating something up and regurgitating it blindly. Instead make some calls.

We suck at engagement… Here is the biggest thing I hem and haw and wonder about.. I don’t engage with PASS in a serious way. I don’t read the minutes. I don’t read every connector. I don’t do a ton of research and thought before I vote. Sometimes I treat PASS as something that does Summit. gives me training. Helps me sort of run a user group (though see below).. But I don’t engage..

But that makes me wonder a few questions I would love to discuss were I at the meeting:

1.) Is that bad?

2.) Why is it so?

3.) What can be done about it?

4.) How much should I engage? How much should PASS engage with me?

I guess.. I wonder what this relationship is supposed to be. If PASS is just a Summit and some training opportunities and a flywheel for starting the #sqlfamily relationships – then do you really need to engage? I think the answer is YES – because there is a budget to maintain, a direction to maintain and accountability to be had.. But how many of us need to engage? And to what extent?

But if we don’t engage during the year. And we don’t read the minutes –  then maybe it s odd to get so amped up periodically. Maybe it isn’t, though. I see both sides.

Anyway I really want to understand exactly:

1.) What is PASS supposed to be, do and represent?

2.) What is the value proposition of membership and involvement with PASS?

Specific Requests

Please note  didn’t say “asks”… They are in a few categories:


I used to see PASS as an association of SQL Server users. When I first heard this I thought it meant a few things:

  • A place for users of SQL Server to provide feedback to Microsoft – That doesn’t happen directly or openly that I see at PASS.
  • A place for users of SQL Server to receive training – Check. This is good. PASS is also including content that focuses on where the data platform is going as I blogged about before.
  • A flywheel for the SQL Server Community – PASS did this. Now I’ll add – PASS isn’t the SQLFamily. PASS isn’t the SQL Community. PASS could close today and this community would exist. We’d replace PASS with regional conferences and other events or sqlbits like events. They did boot this community though and they provide a great avenue for us to meet with their events. This is good – and I’d like to really see us get more into this community. Find a way to tap into those who don’t go to events but would be great.

User Groups

I’d like to see PASS create a better story for User Groups. Here’s the problem though – I don’t fully know what that looks like. I can tell you that my user group wouldn’t really look different whether it was a PASS chapter or not – and I don’t think that makes sense.  I don’t know if it is a speaker bureau, more tools, more direction and influence into chapters from regional mentors or what – but I’d love to see us discuss this. I’d love to see what other user communities do for local groups.

Data, Labs, Etc.

PASS has a huge base of volunteers. I know MS licenses are not freely given out left and right – but man it would be fun to not just see virtual chapters – but also see virtual project groups. PASS IT is small. But that’s fine. Keep the HQ IT where it is. Keep them focused on e-mail, core website and core bread and butter activities. Let us dig in and help in other areas. Let us spin up projects and collaborate on PASS IT needs. Data dedupe, reporting, BI, etc. We can do fun stuff with this stuff.


I also hope to see the board continue with more transparency and details in financial reporting like they have been doing and starting.  But I guess we should maybe start reading them. Maybe they could video record the public portions. But really – more of us – and I mean myself most here – should be reading them.

I care about PASS – and I want to make it better and help. Who knows maybe I’ll submit that application I wrote up one year. Not that I have all the answers – but I’d love to see more candidates next year – even if we elect the same board – because it could prompt more conversation and interest..

Anyway. This was a great Summit. I love PASS and the board we have. I look forward to what they start doing. I hope we can have a constructive year on all sides all year long. 🙂

Mike Walsh
Article by Mike Walsh
Mike loves mentoring clients on the right Systems or High Availability architectures because he enjoys those lightbulb moments and loves watching the right design and setup come together for a client. He started Straight Path in 2010 when he decided that after over a decade working with SQL Server in various roles, it was time to try and take his experience, passion, and knowledge to help clients of all shapes and sizes. Mike is a husband, father to four great children, and a Christian. He’s a volunteer Firefighter and EMT in his small town in New Hampshire, and when he isn’t playing with his family, solving SQL Server issues, or talking shop, it seems like he has plenty to do with his family running a small farm in NH raising Beef Cattle, Chickens, Pigs, Sheep, Goats, Honeybees and who knows what other animals have been added!

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