PASS Board Update: March 2015

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Hello all,

It’s been a while since my last update. Sorry. I’ve just been traveling and presenting and working on books and this slipped through the cracks a bit. I’ll try to do better in the future.

Nothing major to report. As a board member I’ve been working primarily on two things. First, I’ve been polishing my goals for the Chapters Portfolio. I’ll publish those below. Next, I’m working on the budget for Chapters for next year. In between times, a lot of what I do, is work with Regional Mentors (RM) and Chapter Leaders (CL) on an individual basis. As much as the stuff that PASS as an organization is involved with is around technology, the PASS organization, especially Chapters, is all about people. And you know how people are. I’ve already had online meetings with the RMs and CLs in which I let them know what was going on with the Board and with my goals. The one point I made that I want to share is my own focus. I told everyone, and I’m telling you, that I see my role as a means of figuring out what the PASS organization can do for the Chapters rather than telling them what they need to do for the organization. Other than that, at these meetings, I’ve listened and taken notes. I want to know what’s needed by the CLs and the RMs to do their work as volunteers, and, where possible, make that work easier.

I also had the opportunity to have a meeting with the user groups of the UK (whether they were PASS chapters or not). This was an opportunity to listen to what their needs are and to understand whether or not PASS is meeting them. One of the most interesting things I learnedĀ revolved around Chapter Leaders and the Summit. There are a number of requirements for a Chapter to be in good standing with the PASS organization. And, if the Chapter meets all those requirements, then they can receive one free registration for Summit. Cool beans… unless you’re overseas where the cost of getting to Summit is much higher than here in the States. Suddenly, this seemingly HUGE benefit just isn’t that big. I’ll see what I can do about this one. Not sure what yet, but I’m thinking aboutĀ it.

Here is a rough draft of the goals I’ve been working on:

PASS Growth

  • Create a pilot program that allows a regional email to be sent to PASS membership that highlights user group events within that region
    • Purpose is to measure the work involved in order to understand the needs for expanding this to all regions
    • Success is arriving at a measure of work that allows for creating plan for next steps
    • Run for three months to arrive at measure
  • Increase communication between Director for Chapters, HQ and Chapter Leaders by hosting quarterly meetings

Global Growth

  • Create interface to connect Speakers with Chapters
    • Purpose is to provide for Chapters to get in touch with Speakers using our existing local speaker list in SQL Saturday
    • Success is mechanism for Chapter Leaders to find Speakers within their region
    • 3 months to arrive at minimal functionality
  • Complete definition of Regional Mentor Annual Rating process
    • Purpose is to provide Chapters with mechanism for reviewing RMs
    • Success is a completed document that has been reviewed by CL and RM represenatives
    • Time frame requires completion by EOY 2015
  • Continue efforts to establish chapters in countries with no or few existing chapters
    • Targeting Baltics, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Argentina

That’s about it for now.

Coming up I’ll be going to the PASS Business Analytics Conference (use the code BFFGF, that’s my Friends & Family discount, to get some money off the registration). I’ll write something up about that right after it’s over.


  • Andrea Martorana

    Thank you Grant for your efforts and for sharing them with us.

    I found particularly meaningful the attempt to connect speakers with Local Chapters. If we want the community grow, this is a way to improve people skills.

  • Grant, I like the focus on seeing how you can help chapters, I think that’s valid and valuable.

    I’m not as taken by the goals. I’ve got a couple specific comments I’ll add below, but at first glance these seem like like business as usual goals and not ones that really move Chapters forward. That may be less than fair because you’ve trying to respond to requests from chapters, but is there no big dream? No moon shot?

    – the first one seems like a plan to make a plan. How can you test it faster? Is this something that can be done manually to start with?
    – How you measure success of the quarterly meetings besides having them? Attendance?
    – On reaching speakers (my favorite of your goals) 3 months seems too long AND too short! Can’t that be pushed down to RM’s as a temporary measure via an Excel file?
    – What are the concrete goals for the countries you listed in the last bullet on chapter growth?

    I guess I get the need to evaluate RM’s, but how many stay more than year? Are chapter leaders voting to retain them? Or is this an analog review? How do we (the members) see what RM’s are doing? Do we know what the success factors are?

    Thanks for the post and your continued efforts,


  • Excellent feedback as always Andy. Thanks.

    Nope. No moon shot.

    I agree on the first one. It is sort of a plan to make a plan. I’m, frankly, a little frustrated with what’s possible within the org due to constraints in IT. It’s a known problem and lots of people are hitting it. I am attempting to work around it, but, the reality is, it’s there. Until it can be shifted or removed, progress might look like this for a bit. I don’t like it, but I’m actively trying.

    Good question on measuring success. No answer at the moment, but I’ll think about it. To me, the most important part of this is to have a feedback loop from the Chapter Leaders. Yes, I’m using it to communicate stuff from the board. But I really want to be able to collect ideas, thoughts, feelings, from the Chapters to bring back to the board. In pure “grass roots” terms, PASS is the Chapters, the VCs and the SQL Saturday events. Everything else is top down.

    Because of all the international laws on publishing information, we have to get the “opt-in” part done first. The instant that’s done and the first speaker selects that choice, yes, we can absolutely rely on a manual process until we get something better.

    The goals are to get a chapter. I think you want to know what the concrete steps are. That’s harder to quantify. It’s about trying to find the right people in the right place to volunteer to run the thing and then provide them with the necessary support to keep it going. That’s what we’re doing.

    I would say that nearly every single RM is doing a great job. But, there may be one or two that are not. Getting feedback from the chapters about the RMs is the best way I can think of to find out how that’s going. And yeah, a lot of them serve for more than one year.

    Again, keep this stuff coming. I need it. And I appreciate it.

  • Grant,

    Send me the form or give a checkbox, I’ll opt in and then there will be at least two of us! Seriously, if you can just solve that part, then you can bandaid the rest until you get IT time.

    Agree on the feedback loop. Think about how you build it so it lasts beyond your tenure, why a chapter leader would want to attend. Can you field a list of countries that have zero?

    Getting one chapter in those countries seems like a good goal. I keep asking about SQLSaturday in Wyoming too. Having some targets and publishing them is a good start.

    On the RM’s, is it worth the effort to find the bad ones? Do you hear about them anyway? What constitutes a great job? Im curious about the latter, but in particular how you do get more (important) value from them?

OK, fine, but what do you think?