Get Up and Be Heard

Posted: December 21, 2010 in SQLServerPedia Syndication

I have started this post/email about a dozen times now.  I get about 2 pages in and then I toss it away.  I am having an extremely difficult time writing this.  Then last night I had to sit down and ask myself why?  Why is it so hard to just share my opinion and move on?  I have no issue that there will be some that disagree with me.  At this point I think I would just be happy if there were more people that were passionate enough to disagree or even agree with me.  But the lack of discussion that I am seeing around the internet disturbs me.  Ok, Maybe I should back up a bit.

There was a bit of a controversy during the last PASS election that got a number of bloggers doing their thing.  Then during the PASS Summit there was an announcement of a group that was formed to look at the process that created this controversy.  What surprises me is that since the controversy I have seen little about the topic other than this small group of people willing to look at how PASS does a couple things.  Wait….  I am being vague again.
There was a question about who we (members of PASS) were allowed to vote for.  There is one person that I am aware of who wanted to continue with the amount of work that he does for the community by serving on the PASS board.  He decided to run for the board, but for one reason or another he was not on the ballot (specific reasons as to why he was not on the ballot were not disclosed).  I have talked with a number of the board members to see why this name was absent from the ballot.  The short answer is that the decision was made after the individual did an interview during the election process.

 

Full Disclosure here…

I know the person whom I speak of that wanted to be on the board.  And I know a number of the board members.  I think very highly of many of the people impacted here.

Back to where I started…
So as I have tried to sit and write this time after time all I can think about is all the points I want to make.  What PASS should do, what I should do and what I should say.  I do believe that as a member of PASS or any organization I have a responsibility.  A couple of my responsibilities are:

  • I need to vote.  I must make sure that I am given the opportunity to say who should lead and who I would like to follow.
  • I need speak my mind, I need to share my opinion about things that I think are wrong or not done in a method that I believe is right.

I believe that as an organization we need to come out and make a statement.  You choose to what statement you would like to make, but make one.  Read what the members of this group are trying to accomplish and then be heard.  For more information check out this link.  On the right side of the page is a list of everyone that is on the Election Review committee.  Send them a note and let them know what you think.  If you are still unsure what I am talking about, well that is fine.  The past is the past, make sure that you voice is heard for the future.  What statement am I making?  It’s simple, it’s clear and it’s direct.

I believe that If I have all the information, I can judge candidates equally, I can make an educated decision,  I want to make that decision for myself and I don’t want to be limited on the options that I have.  I believe that I should be able to make the decision on the leaders which I follow.

So there it is, that is what I want.  Please understand I have had a number of disturbing discussions with many people that have been involved with this.  What makes this disturbing?  The fact that people are not making a firm statement, tell the people on this committee what you think is fair and what you want.
I don’t care if you agree with me.  I don’t care if you disagree with me.  But if you choose to not make a decision or you choose to not share your opinions with someone on the committee, don’t expect to feel like you have been represented in this process.

Comments
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Wendy Pastrick. Wendy Pastrick said: RT @SQLShaw: Get Up and Be Heard: http://wp.me/pd7Hs-91 Blog on the PASS Election. #sqlpass #passerc […]

  2. Allen Kinsel says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Honestly I wish people cared enough to voice their opinion about how things should work. But, most people for whatever reason, dont voice their opinion in an un wishy washy fashion, or just dont voice an opinion at all. That is until “its too late” and something happens because they didnt get involved. This same lack of involvement phenomenon is true for so many of the processes at PASS. Good, bad, or otherwise, it is what it is. This is the basis of my reasoning for disagreeing with you (bet you’re surprised huh :))

    Sure, you (as an informed member) can make your own decisions about who to elect as a leader but, what about the rest of the world who doesnt have the time or inclination to voice their opinion, much less figure out who each of the candidates are. (assuming we dont filter the list at all) what you really wind up with is literally random luck of the draw, and as a community member im not sure I like that prospect very much… Ive seen what happens when organizations (including PASS itself) dont have decently functioning boards, and its not pretty. I doubt anyone whose seen it would disagree.

    last thought -> everything I have said is referencing the future with no thoughts towards the last election cycle and the specific people involved.

    • Chris Shaw says:

      Allen,

      I would like to thank you for commenting on the post.

      I am glad that we can have these discussions looking at what is coming up in the future. It doesn’t help anyone if we go beat up what happened last year. Let’s look at it, review it and see if we can come up with something that will put the best foot forward.

      I think when I am asked direct questions as you did it is easier for me to put down what we are thinking. So please excuse me for the copy paste bit.

      “ what about the rest of the world who doesn’t have the time or inclination to voice their opinion, much less figure out who each of the candidates are”

      Currently, is there a page where we can get all the candidate information, what about the viewpoints the candidates are running on? Would it help if there was a page on the site that combined more than a Bio and a few statements (maybe next election I will do something like this), maybe a compare the candidates table? The only benefit that I see to filtering or vetting the candidates is to make sure that if the people that voted did not know the history of any of the candidates that we could rest assuming that the vetting process worked. But then how do we as members know that process works?

      One idea that I like, and I am not sure how I would present this but I really like the idea of a public vetting, I would think that during the interview process all the candidates should be asked the same questions, and those questions should be made public. So what do we do if there is a question that really a candidate preferred to keep private? I don’t know I am having a hard time thinking of what question would be relevant to a vetting but would need to be kept private. I am sure there is a few, but I can’t think of any at this time.

      ““its too late” and something happens because they didnt get involved”

      I agree, I have never run for the board, and I did not comment before the vote. Even if you look at the future, and I believe we have agreed that is where the discussion is going to be the most beneficial, I think this will always be an issue. I don’t think any organization will ever end up without a back seat driver.

      I want to finish by saying again that I hold no resentment against the board. I was talking to one of the board members and I have to admit that you guys took a beating, oh and I did vote for ya, so please be nice.

  3. Dave Schutz says:

    Chris,

    I commented on PASS site about this last month and received a reply from Joe Webb thanking me for my comments. I’m in the same camp as you as far as believing I know enough to be able to select a good candidate without all the vetting by the nomination committee. I’m pretty sure I know who the one person who wanted to run for the board and was not on the ballot (and I talked to him about this). Nothing against anyone on the board, they all are doing a great job. It just seems like the nomination process is conducted in a backroom somewhere and we the membership are excluded from this process.
    Like you are saying we the membership need to speak up about this and make sure our voices are heard.

  4. Chris Shaw says:

    Dave,

    Thanks for leaving a note. I believe the more that we share what we are thinking the better.

    I was thinking an open application process or a interview that would published. I can see why there may be a concern from the board on who should and should not be there.

    Here where I live we had an election a couple years ago and some nut job ran for Mayor, I am not sure how this all came about, but he ended up on the ballot. He could have been elected, I mean how many people really know anything about the Mayor they are voting for, it was lucky for our town that they did an open debate and televised it. The nut job really showed that he was a nut. We are talking a racist and the whole nine yards. (I am not making a political statement he just should not have been there). He even still pulled a large number of votes, but he did lose.

    So how do we make sure we are putting up qualified people, but at the same time make sure that the group of members are being represented?

    What do you think about a write in candidate? I like the idea, but it could go completely around a check in any qualifications.

    Thanks again for your time. There was a lot of buzz last year when people did not make the ballot, we need more buzz now to make sure that it does not happen again.

    Chris

    • Dave Schutz says:

      Chris,

      Not sure about a write-in candidate; how many write-ins would they have to get before they could be considered a viable candidate? I think your point about making sure we are represented is an excellent point. I think we need candidates with different viewpoints who can represent the interests of the many different types of members in our organization. Electing candidates who make the current board members happy does not necessarily ensure all of our differing viewpoints will be addresses. Sometimes you need that one person on the board who can push ideas that may be contrary to the board’s consensus but still viable to the membership.
      Thanks for pushing this topic and I hope we can continue this topic before the next election.

      • Chris Shaw says:

        Dave,

        I agree with you on the write in candidate just for the fact that it would be a pain to count.

        I wonder if we did an election at the PASS summit and during the Opening event or in the bags if information could be passed along.

        I really hope that members just read and comment on this, I think that there is a solution but we have to get involved. I think I like the ones that disagree with me the most. It gives me an opportunity to learn and well I different point of view is good for me.

        Thanks for continue to engage in the discussion.
        Chris

  5. Chris,

    Thanks for thinking about this and posting your comments. Hopefully we’ll get some feedback.

    -Bill

    • Chris Shaw says:

      Bill,

      Our discussions have been very helpful on the topic, I have to remember that my opinion is not shared by everyone. But I am very curious to who shares my opinion and what other options that other people have.

      Chris

  6. Chris,

    Having known you for many years, it does not surprise me to see you state your opinion. It’s one of your great character traits.

    With respect to this issue though, I wonder how many people, much like me, have the time, inclination, desire or aptitude to take this on.

    It’s my opinion that PASS is an intimidating organization. I’ve never been involved in anything PASS related other than SQL Saturday. Following these types of conversations, it largely looks and smells like a popularity contest. I’m sure that’s not the case as many of the folks on the board work as hard or harder than I do on a daily basis doing the job that pays their bills and then they turn around and donate time to help facilitate all that PASS does…

    However, I would be willing to guess that the perception of the PASS organization by many of its members who are like me, not engaged on a daily, weekly or even monthly process, probably have a viewpoint of the organization as one which can make or break their name in the SQL Server community. That’s intimidating and largely the reason that so many probably keep their opinions to themselves.

    In many respects PASS is in a no-win scenario here. They will never be able to please everyone and if they attempt to please everyone, it will be at the detriment of the entire organization. With respect to the election process, I would simply state, throw your hat in the ring and begin a campaign to start a “public” selection process on behalf of PASS. Will they turn you down? I imagine that they would, but you don’t need them to help educate the folks like me on who wants to run for office, their merits, background, bio’s etc…

    In short, the title of your blog post is “Get up and be heard”. You have certainly done just that and I, for one, applaud you for it.

    I suspect that there are thousands of guys just like me who aren’t involved enough to even form an opinion…. I would also suspect that the majority of PASS members fall into that category. As a result, I believe that it would be beneficial for PASS to acknowledge the folks who have spoken out on this issue, put together a few conference calls and get those folks together to have a productive conversation on what it could look like going forward. I suppose it could be called a task-force of some sort.

    If all of you came together and did that, I would suspect that everyone would be in a better place and a plan could/would be crafted which is more to the liking of its members and find some traction with respect to implementation from PASS’ perspective.

    If that happened, would you and the others who have written about this take the time and thought to blog about the merits? It’s an easy answer but in my experience it’s much more difficult to put time into sharing what’s “good” and what’s “right” about a process, a relationship and an experience than it is to speak about an injustice. The reason that I’m bringing this up is that if you organized a group, much like the one you mentioned earlier in your blog post, and went to PASS and challenged them to involve all of you in the conversation going forward and then stated that you would publically blog about the positive aspects of it…. They will probably bite and in the end, the hard work that all of you put in, on your own dime, will be enjoyed by the rest of us.

  7. Allen Kinsel says:

    Sorry for the long delay in response Chris, for some reason my comment subscription didnt take.

    When I first started with the SQL community and PASS, things were waaay different than now, back then the only people allowed to vote were attendees of the summit, and there literally was no campaigning. IMHO it totally felt like a backroom kinda deal where it was who you knew that got you on the ballot (and people probably won with 10 votes because the totals werent released). What we have today is a continual improvement in the process and its certainly still in a transition. Things are getting better, we at least have a chance to see what each person on the ballot believes in, or at least talk to them before the vote. Id bet that in 5 years the election process will probably be considerably different as its a continual evolution

    Jeremy,

    I totally understand where you’re coming from about pass being somewhat intimidating. It can seem that way at times but, I think thats true for almost any group. The only thing about your suggestion re: forming a group to review whats happened in the elections is PASS already did that, theres a website and a group of people meeting etc, they want input but, it seems to me not very many care, there is currently very little participation. It seems like everyone was upset and wanted to point fingers “post mortem” but almost no one is participating when they can make a difference in setting policy. The ERC Site btw is -> http://erc.sqlpass.org/

    Oh, and its not a popularity contest. If it were I would have never made the cut as a nobody🙂

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