Feedback and Change

Recently I heard from a number of people that they received an email from the PASS organization asking them for some feedback on why they weren’t registered for this year’s Summit. I didn’t get the email, which is both good and bad. I’m teaching two precons, but not attending the Summit, so it might be good to actually have my feedback.

I think the email is a good idea, though since it comes directly from Grant, I hope someone is triaging his email. Rather, I hope that there actually is a need for people to triage his email because there will be lots of responses.

This is a good chance for anyone to give feedback to our professional organization as to why they aren’t attending this year as opposed to previous years. There will be all sorts of reasons, but I’d like to think that if there is a pattern of something the conference doesn’t do well, the organization will address the issue. Or at least explain why things are a certain way.

Those of you that have followed me for a long time know I have a love/dislike relationship with PASS. I do support many efforts they manage, and I’m generally pleased with their stewardship of SQL Saturday. However, if you peruse the list of posts I’ve made about them on my blog, you might find some older notes that showcase some displeasure. I haven’t changed many of my thoughts, but instead I provide feedback privately to people when I disagree. I am trying to be a better version of myself online, and limit my public criticism.

PASS has been slow to change across two decades, and I’d argue, resistant to many ideas from the community. I understand that it can be difficult to change the way that the organization works, and that I certainly don’t have all the information that impacts decisions. I also feel that transparency and accountability are important, with too little of that over the years from those that have served on the board. My view is that there should be more public justification for spending decisions as well as open and honest disclosure about difficult topics. I also would like to see more data from the org made available publicly. After all, we are a data organization.

However, I do see the organization changing slowly. I have been a member since 1999, when the first Summit took place in Chicago. We have a much wider group of speakers, more rotation for speakers at all levels, plenty of new speakers, new events and virtual chapters, policy changes to better support the board and governance, and probably plenty of other things I’ve missed. While I’m not always in agreement with specific decisions, I do think there has been change over the last decade.

I’d like to see more change, and I think more comes about with feedback. If you got the email, I’d appreciate you sending feedback to Grant and the board. Me, Steve, is asking you to send feedback to PASS. Long, short, it doesn’t matter, but be specific.

If you’re not sure about what to say, or don’t want to send it yourself, feel free to send it to me (sjones at this domain) and I’ll give you feedback or send it on anonymously. In fact, I’d encourage everyone that would like to see something changed to send a note to the board members or the email.

Changes takes time and it takes effort. Be a part of that.

Steve Jones

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