Is the problem with PASS, the community?

I’ve been watching the fall out of the appointments of James and Kendal to the PASS (Professional Association of SQL Server) board and it got me thinking.

The following are some of the blog posts.

Bill Graziano -

Chris Webb -

Andy Warren -

Steve Jones -

Thomas LaRock -

Aaron Bertrand -

The situation, if you haven’t heard, is that two seats became free on the PASS board due to a resignation and a move to the executive board. The byelaws of PASS state that for these, as they are not full term positions, the president chooses some people puts them to the board and, subject to a majority vote, they get elected. In previous years the people chosen are those that didn’t get elected in the main election, in this case Kendal was the 2nd person not elected and James didn’t run for the board (he was an international advisor but with no vote).

All the posts above have different views on the situation and put their point across very well. As well as the posts themselves the comments make interesting reading.

The views have hit a number of areas but largely the negative points have been about the board ignoring who the community has voted for and choosing who they want to fill the roles.

While you ponder, let me digress.parliament iStock_000015381829XSmall

Looking at any public office, you have to be a certain person to put yourself forward, but just because someone puts themselves forward does that make them the best person for that position. I often think that the people that put themselves forward for public office (MP, Senator etc) are exactly the people that shouldn’t be in those roles. To that end I also believe the people we need need in those roles don’t put themselves forward because the roles look like awful, public battering, thankless tasks, half the country not wanting you, why bother?

The same can be said for PASS. Over the past years I’ve watched PASS change but I’ve also seen the battering PASS gets over almost every decision. Why would anyone put themselves forward for that. I consider most if not all the board friends and have spoke with most of them and past members about the role and whilst almost all of them want change, very little does change. PASS largely hasn’t changed, from what I can see, in the past 10 years. Ok its bigger, different management company and some things are done more professionally, but in essence its just a bigger version of what it was. A group of volunteers running a multi million pound something.


Which brings me onto my point, the title of this blog post.

The one thing that hasn’t changed (much) overtime, is how the board that run PASS is chosen. People, normally SQL Server people, nominate themselves for a thankless role. The role involves giving up their free time (sometimes billable time), often travelling to board meetings, with very little power and everything decided by a board. A short list is chosen by a committee and the community vote.

On what basis do they vote,

  • deep knowledge of each nominee,
  • their background, their real world experience, and their ambitions


  • because they are on twitter
  • saw them sing a song at the keynote
  • have a good blog.

KFC iStock_000017274089XSmall

So its the communities fault.

The community keep voting for people that are the same type of people. As James pointed out to me, with a cycle of a few board members a year, getting a change of leadership big enough to affect a shift in the direction of PASS is very very difficult.

The community votes for the PASS board and so maybe that is the problem. The community doesn’t know what people are needed to run PASS.

Just because you eat KFC each week doesn’t mean you can run KFC.

Whats more the community doesn’t have control over who puts themselves forward to be elected to the board. Maybe the community should be focusing on some other areas and not just the perpetuation of the same board appointment process that hasn’t resulted in the large changes that some people want in PASS.


Do we need a new PASS?

Working in business you see management come in and impose their way of working on the business. They change the business to work how they want it to work. The same with governments they have three to four years to affect change, if they fail they are voted out.

Just because someone is passionate about SQL Server doesn’t mean they know how to run a multi-million dollar global company, and that is what PASS is, a multi million dollar company. Do the people that are voted to the pass board get the real power they need to make change or is it all just dumbed down to the average of all those on the board. Rarely do I see greatness come out of committees, I feel we need to give more power to the board to affect change and more time to do it.

PASS is in a wonderful position to capitalise on an effective monopoly on SQL Server. We need an organisation that can do that and from that the benefits will flow to the community. Just voting in a board every year is perpetuating the same PASS we’ve had for years and we need change. I’m glad the board decided to not pick the normal people and choose James and Kendal. I hope that’s because the board see them as being able to affect change. Lets give them time and see what comes.

Published Monday, January 16, 2012 1:21 AM by simonsabin
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