Monday, March 8, 2010

A Swing and a Miss by PASS

On Saturday my son had his second baseball game.  When it was his turn to hit I reminded him to keep his eye on the ball because in his first game he had a struck out on a swing and a miss because he didn’t keep his eye on the ball.  I think that the PASS board has taken their eye off the ball resulting in a swing and a miss by not publishing the results of the January survey about where members would like to see the Summit held.  Last Friday (3/72010), Andy Warren (@sqlandy) shared that the board had gone over the results of the recent survey and voted on where to hold the next few Summits in his PASS Update #24 blog post. The interesting part of the blog post is this:

I’ve asked for the data to be posted on, so far we haven’t managed that, hopefully soon. I also requested that we release the full detail records scrubbed of identifying data, but it was determined that doing so was too complicated!

I’m  not the first one to comment on this as Brent Ozar (@BrentO) quickly responded in his blog post, PASS Summit Location Voting Results.  I have to say that I agree with what he has to say,  I don’t care how complicated it is to publish the results, you have to do it.  Not publishing those results leaves open the possibility that, no matter what the board has decided to do for future Summits (apparently we can’t know where future Summits will be until the current Summit), it isn’t what the survey showed.  I want to make it clear that I’m not criticizing the board for whatever decision that they made regarding the location of upcoming Summit’s, the criticism is that they should release the results of the survey.  We, the members, are PASS and have the right to know those results. 

I’ve served on church board’s (not as big as PASS, but similar) before and I understand that sometimes a board needs to di what they believe is in the best interests of the organization, even if it is not popular with members.  I call that leadership, but please share the results and also the reasons why you made the decision you made.  The membership was asked what we thought, so we need to know the corporate results.  We also should know the decision that was made regarding future Summit locations.  We were asked for our input, so we need to know what it is and what was done with it.  This could be an issue that influences decisions to run for the PASS board and decisions on who to vote for and the election is BEFORE the Summit.

To go along with that last sentence, I am now considering applying for the PASS board.  I don’t know that I have all the right qualifications, but I think I’ll being doing it for the right reason, I’m passionate about PASS and the SQL Server Community and want to see it grow.  I’ve also been quick to speak out and offer criticism’s of decisions, and I believe that if you are going to be critical you need to be willing to take a leadership role.  There are a lot of great people in PASS (including ALL the board members), but we, those not already on the board, all have reasons for not running.  I’ve decided that I’ll always be able to find reasons NOT to do it, so now I’m looking for reasons TO do it. 

If you are passionate about PASS, I encourage YOU to do the same.


  1. Just to go on the record here - the reason we don't announce the location of the next Summit until the current Summit is that we are sometimes finalizing minute contractual details. If we have an announcement without the contracts being finalized, then it might dramatically change our negotiations with the event host, catering, and hotels.

    As far as the raw data, even scrubbed, goes - I understand why people would want to see that. But, at the same time, this is data that could be very useful to anyone else who wants to run a SQL Server conference. Even cleansed, raw, results amount to a considerable amount of free market research. I don't know where Andy heard that it was too complicated to release those results.

    I've spoken with members of PASS HQ and the Executive Board and, to the best of my knowledge, we will be getting the results of the survey out to the public shortly. It had already been planned to release the results when Andy's blog post went out but a date had not been set.

    Finally, I agree - we, the Board of Directors, could have done a better job of communicating with you, the members of PASS. Going forward I'll be doing my best to make sure that we communicate clearly and quickly with the rest of PASS.

  2. Jeremiah, thanks for the clarification.

    Those kind of details are what I think the community is looking for.

  3. I asked for the results to be released in January, and at the oPASS meeting in Feb had a commitment to get the aggregrated posted, which so far has not happened. Frustrating to me that something simple takes so long.

    On the side of event dates and locations, I can see some merit to waiting until dates are confirmed, but that is a lot different than waiting until one Summit to announce the next.

    My stance is that we should be as transparent as we can, and to look for reasons to say yes instead of no.

  4. Andy,

    Thanks for the comment and the blog post. Also, in case it isn't clear, I do appreciate the time and effort put in by the members of the board. I know each one wants what is best for PASS, just sometimes I disagree.

  5. Two comments:

    A) I doubt most people in "the community" care that much. You might care, because you pay attention to these things, but the vast majority don't.

    B) I'm not sure why you think that you have a "right" to this information. The survey didn't ship with verbiage that said that if you filled it out you would get to see the results. PASS never said that by becoming a member, you would get to see the results of surveys it did. So in actuality you have no reasonable expectation along those lines, and certainly no right.

    ...Not to say that it wouldn't be interesting to see the data.

  6. Adam,

    Can't disagree with point A that's for sure, but I think that membership should have access to the data, especially since there is a login to the PASS site. For example, you have to login to have access to the Governance section of the site, so stick the results there. At least the summary data.

  7. I have to say that I think Jeremiah's comment about negotiations is BS. That might be what someone is claiming, but that's crap. PASS is too small a group to be affected by announcing a location, or announcing that "we are negotiating" for Seattle/Chicago, where-ever.

    However that's separate. Releasing the data about the survey, even the raw data (since this is supposedly a community run group) makes sense.

    Apparently transparency is not very clear to the PASS board.

  8. I also think it would be nice for membership to have access to the data, but "should" is a sticky term for me :-) ... PASS has never made any official promises about sharing this kind of data, and no one joined in order to gain access to it. As a business, I believe that PASS is free to run its operations and expose whatever data is best suited to its goals. Which brings up the question of what the goals of the organization are, along with how various decisions might help the organization get there, or hinder it. Probably not as cut and dry as "it's best to show the results of this survey", but rather some sort of gray area that we don't have a full picture of as outsiders.

  9. Tom LaRock (SQLRockstar), another member of the PASS board posted a response on his blog,


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