SQLPass Global Growth: Don’t be Afraid of Growth, Be Afraid of Standing Still

Do not be afraid of growing slowly; instead, be afraid of standing still (Chinese proverb)

The Professional Association of SQL Server is in a state of international growth, in order to meet international demand. PASS are moving from a US-centric organisation to a global organisation, which is a huge effort with many cross-cultural and cross-language complexities.  Cicero once said, the searching-out and thorough investigation of truth ought to be the primary study of humans. PASS are looking for your engagement and input into how they can grow effectively.

There is plenty of risk in trying to change an organisation. However, there is a real need for a global SQL Server association, and PASS are best situated to meet the demand. The stellar team at PASS are the only ones with experience in growing the organisation from a few members to an organisation that serves thousands of people in the United States. To do this properly, however, they will need to learn from experience and input from the community as a whole.
In other words, PASS need to talk little, to hear much, to reflect upon what has passed in company, to distrust one’s own opinions, and value others’ opinions that deserve it.  Here’s what I think. To give you some context, I’m a European who is involved in PASS in a number of ways:

·        I am extremely fortunate to speak at PASS Summit, having done two sessions last year and I’ve been successfully selected to give two sessions this year. If you love SQL Server, please do consider coming to Summit – it was a real life-changing, memorable experience to mix with so many like-minded people who I’m now privileged to call my friends. You will not regret it.

·        I help to organise Women in Technology events across Europe. So far, I’ve been involved in organising cross-cultural Women in Technology events in SQLRally Nordic in Sweden, Portugal, and Poland, with other events on the way. I’ve also been a Panel member at the WIT event in SQLRally in Dallas 2012, and also in SQLSaturday 109 in Silicon Valley.

·        I am a co-chair for the Business Intelligence Virtual Chapter in Europe. Basically this involves mentoring new webinar speakers, in addition to pestering well-known speakers to give us a Business Intelligence oriented webinar.

·        I have also spoken at the Performance Virtual Chapter as well as the Business Intelligence Virtual Chapter; please have a look at the Virtual Chapters. They are a wealth of training materials, which can help to put you ahead.  

For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts on how I’d like to see PASS grow:

PASSion – I would like to propose that PASS offer a program, similar to the MVP Program, which awards outstanding community members with an Award that recognises their efforts. PASS already have an Award which is handed out at Summit, but I think that there are many people who deserve a similar award for the work that they do for the PASS community. This Award could be handed out every three months, similar to the MVP Award. However, unlike the MVP Award, I don’t see that the PASS version would need to involve technical excellence, but would instead focus on superlative community efforts.  I can think of a few names immediately for their work at PASS for SQL Saturdays, User Groups and so on: Pam Shaw, Aaron Nelson, Mark Broadbent, Neil Hambly to name a few.

Community – SQLRally is currently being put on ice whilst the Board work out a differentiator. My own thought is that SQLRally could consist completely of affordably-priced paying precons and half-day sessions. The evening event could involve an after-dinner speaker rather than beers and games, for example. My belief is that this would move PASS from provisioning quality training in the SQL Community, to moving it to offer training provision which is business-oriented. Any profits can go back to growing the community. Since it would involve funds, it would be a smaller event which could be repeated or focused in order to meet the needs of businesses. Therefore, there could be a Business Intelligence focused SQLRally, a DBA-focused SQLRally, and Information Workers Rally (IWRally?) and so on. It could also be conducted in different languages, and so on.

Europe Board – I have had a look at the proposed structure, and noted that an International Events Subcommittee is in place. I think that’s a good idea. There needs to be a unified strategy or PASS risk being spread too thinly. PASS organisation of events is superlative, but I think that the ‘gently, gently, incrementally’ approach is the right one whilst we all find our feet.

Platform – as the volunteer who organises WIT events for PASS and SQL Events in Europe, I can wholeheartedly thank the PASS Board and team members who’ve offered amazing support to me, in order to make sure that these events rock. I’ve called on various PASS members for support, and have had an amazing response every time. I foresee PASS as a vehicle for supporting Women in Technology across Europe, and I’d like to be involved in making that happen.

I’ve no doubt that, like any period of growth, there will be teething problems. As long as we have a common goal as a community – in other words, to turn PASS into a truly global organisation – then this will help to hold us together, and not get distracted by sideshows. You don’t reach your goals if you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith, and I hope that we can ride out any political issues along the way. As Nietzsche said, for a tree to become tall, it must grow tough roots among the rocks; in other words, the global emerging communities can use the existing US to help build new communities around the world.

As Franklin once said, energy and persistence conquer all things; as long we have a common goal, we will succeed as a community to support the up-and-coming, young communities who need help, guidance and support. If you are a member of PASS who listens to webinars, attends meetings, or attends Summit, then you should be thankful that you have an organisation that offers you these things. For international SQL Server lovers, they don’t always have the same opportunities, and this is what PASS hopes to offer to them.

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