PASS Update #1

As many of you know I'm joining the PASS Board of Directors for a two year term beginning yesterday. I'm going to try to post an update every couple weeks here, often enough to let you know what I'm doing, not so often as to overwhelm the blog. More 'official' posts will go out on the PASS blog, but here I'll be sharing and brain storming.

One big challenge is confidentiality. I suspect I'm the most published/verbose of the board members, and that did raise some concerns on both sides about what can/should be published. Part of the process of joining is signing a confidentiality agreement - a contract. Most of that has to do with communications between board members. Board meetings/discussions aren't always a pretty process, what will get published are the minutes of those official meetings. Part of those meetings may have to be excluded from the minutes - imagine a scenario where you have to discuss firing an employee, or other sensitive area. My goal will be to ask/argue that as little as possible be excluded from the minutes - but it will be a summary, not a transcript! As far as things I'm working on, expect a lot of openness - both because I want you to know what's going on with my projects and because I'll be asking for your help, both with ideas and with real work as volunteers.

My portfolio will be online content. Blogs, newsletters, resurrecting the SQL Server Standard, overview of SIGS, integrating chapter content, and probably a few more things. In other words, I'll be the one delivering the message, but not necessarily deciding what the message is! The tech side of it won't be my area, though as you can tell most of those will require some technology to make them happen and I'll be asking/begging/demanding help there where needed.

I can't tell you my first quarter goals yet because I'm still discussing ideas with Wayne, and I need to share those ideas with the board members because most will require joint effort, but I'll share some of the ideas I'm pitching and hope you'll let me know what seems interesting or not:

  • ISQL Server Standard. Will be online/PDF, thinking to focus on deep interviews, tech edited content (but what content/level?), PASS stories. I want to look at the possibility of publishing it once a year as a book, kind of a year end summary/year book kind of project.
  • Blogs. I would really like to build a master list of every SQL blog in the world, provide a feed of new blogs/dead blogs, and provide one or more super feeds that are aggregates filtered by an editor. For instance, an SSIS feed would only contain SSIS posts that the editor considered worthy. The goal would be to make it easier for all of us to find the news we need, but to still highlight/celebrate individual bloggers.
  • Books. I want to highlight books written by PASS members, also publish a feed of new sql books when published (as in available for sale)
  • Integrate with existing communities. For example, if PASS does build the blogs mentioned above, ideally those get syndicated to SSC, SQLTeam, etc, if they want to use them - we provide a service that helps their community and in return we get the PASS logo displayed. I'd like to use the communities as the proving ground for writers before they make it to the Standard as well. Position the Standard so as not to compete with SQL Mag, others.
  • Not sure if it falls in my area, but also more social networking. Twitter for those that love it, bookmarking, Linked In - figure out which ones PASS can use/be visible on without reinventing any wheels (expect networking to be a big focus on mine here in the blog over the next year)
  • Making minutes and board member blog entries easy to find

Overall I think the PASS web site needs to provide relevant information/news to members and provide a solid base for the marketing team (and chapters!) to talk about PASS. I think the SQL Server Standard web site will focus on a few unique PASS created content items, but will probably also feature the best content from existing user communities. Social networking will fall mainly under PASS web site, most feeds under SQL Server Standard.

If you've got a content related idea, post it or send it to me. If you want to volunteer to help on one of these projects, I wouldn't turn down help. In fact one of my goals is to stay strategic, find volunteers to take on limited scope/duration projects and figure out how we can sustain them long term - either by an orderly transfer from one volunteer to the next, outsourcing it, or assigning it to PASS HQ as a maintenance task.

Speaking of volunteers, let me share my philosophy. Most of work hard already, have families to nurture, and other demands. If you volunteer, it should be for something you think you can get done..but, I get that things go wrong. What we don't want to happen is for projects to just fail because one key person got pulled into 70 hour weeks at work. I'm hoping to do weekly/bi-weekly status checks with all my volunteers to see how things are going and when someone is falling behind, we're going to either assign more help/reschedule the delivery date/cancel the task. I want volunteers for their enthusiasm, I'm not going to punish anyone or even be disappointed if life intervenes in unexpected ways. Volunteering should be fun and rewarding, but not painless.

I'm going to be focused on my area, but also looking to see how I can support/challenge the rest of the board. I'm planning to do 90 day sprints ala Scrum, and win or lose, post the results publicly, and hope all on the board will do the same. Hold me accountable!