Friday, October 16, 2009

PASS Board of Directors Debate - Transparency and Vision

There is an amazing debate occurring on Brent Ozar's blog where he interviewed Matt Morollo. Being a little out of touch this week, it's incredible to me there is so much passion about the election, but not so much on most other issues. Even the East Coast v West Coast location doesn't generate this many comments, though maybe that's because we don't vote on it?

On one hand I feel somewhat hypocritical weighing in on this topic because I'm not running for the Board of Directors. I feel guilty for not doing so, but it's not my time. Maybe in a year or two, but no promises.

But it has alternately annoyed, irritated, and concerned me, so I needed to weigh in.

On Matt Morollo

I'll post this comments in the debate, but here's what I see.

Matt isn't a DBA, he has a different perspective, and he brings a fresh look at things to PASS. He actually reminds me of a past board member that viewed the world in a different way. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, because, as Brian Kelley pointed out, a fresh view can help, or cripple a board.

I agree with Andrew Kelley that we don't need to just elect SQL professionals, and in fact, I'd like to see one non-SQL person on the board to stimulate debate. In fact, on many corporate, and other boards, the people are not necessarily engaged in that business. They might have a tie, but they work in other areas, typically non-competitive.

That being said, I worry about Matt's personality. I have not met him, but the responses I have seen to the interview concern me. A number of them seem to be taken as personal attacks, and the responses seem to shift arguments.

I can't tell if Matt's answers in the interview and comments that mention his company are going to be a problem, or a conflict. They're part of his experience, and they might be analogies to make a point. Or they might be plugs to push in the future. I can't tell, but they raise a (small) flag for me.

Did I vote for Matt? I can't say as I don't want to influence people. I'll disclose my votes after the results are in.

The Board of Directors

This is probably worth a separate post, but here's what I've seen over the years with PASS.

The board has to work and manage.

PASS is relatively poor. They seem to have struggled to survive at times, by their own admission, and board members have had to manage projects, and even participate (note Rick Heiges' participation and work recently on 24 hours of PASS), at times. This isn't a board that meets a couple times of year, talks about direction, and then lets management do all the work.

I like the direction of the current management company, and the group seems to get things done, but the board has to work as well. Otherwise where is that 5-10 hours of work I week I've seen bandied around during the "should I run" process? Board members have to manage projects, manage areas of work in PASS (marketing, finance, content, speakers, etc.).

In my mind we need a variety of companies (no more than 2 from any entity), experiences, and backgrounds. I like the idea of someone from media/marketing. I like the idea of a developer. In my mind, maybe we should seek out well-respected people from INETA, or other areas that would be willing to serve on the board and bring ideas.

I also think that we might need to have a group of other volunteers, that we elect or they agree, to handle some work for a year. They commit to run things and let someone on the board actually to less work, and more thinking.

The Nomination Process

I think I'm going to upset a few people here, especially as I know some of the nomination committee. And again, I feel like a heel for not participating in this process. I should commit to it next year since I'm going to open my big mouth.

The nominating committee is making mistakes.

First, we have too few candidates. I know that you looked for qualified people, and interviewed them, but I think you

a) set the bar too high

b) aren't necessarily qualified to set the bar

You're DBAs. You're not professional managers and directors for the most part. Some of you run small companies, but you're not hiring people here. You don't have the final decision.

But you can stack the deck. And that's what I feel has been done in the past. I'm not sure about 2009, but honestly, I cannot believe that Tim Ford, a passionate person that volunteers, that is committed to PASS, is somehow not qualified for the slate. If he didn't interview well in your mind, so what? He displays the ability to want to work, he's open and engaging with the community, something that a number of board members haven't done.

That's what we need in the PASS Board.

The committee doesn't choose the board members, so why set much of a bar? Maybe I'm missing something, and you don't want to disparage anyone that applied, or prevent people from considering it in the future, but I think that's a mistake. Some good, honest feedback about all the applicants and why someone was chosen would be refreshing.

As Andrew Kelley said, this isn't rocket science. None of the current board is a group I would consider much more qualified than any of the candidates or even people I know that submitted their names. They just aren't. They make decisions that most of this community could make.

Get more information out about candidates, more interviews like Brent Ozar did, or let the candidates post the information Brian Kelley mentions, but don't take the nominating committee too seriously.

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