What Should PASS Be? I Challenge You

PASS isn’t what it should be. I hear that a lot, and in many ways I agree with you. We’re finally growing and evolving, but we’re still far from what I think most of you expect from a true professional association.


I’m not sure you or I have realistic expectations. So I want to challenge you. Draw an image of what you want PASS to be in 3 years and share it on your blog (or post a comment here if you don’t have a blog). Imagine we just hired you to be CEO of PASS and you were going to “fix” things, what would you do? What’s your vision for providing benefits to chapters or members, or for growing membership, or for global growth, or whatever areas you think are badly served right now?

Maybe I just don’t have the vision – I’m limited by my own biases and experiences – but I’d really like for PASS to be what you want it to be. An organization that serves you, excites you, makes you proud to be part of it, proud to support it, and willing to challenge it if it steps off track.

Maybe it’s a paragraph, maybe it’s a thousand words, but I hope you’ll write something. We’ve got several hundred bloggers in the SQL space, and a whole lot of members. What you write may not change the world, but maybe it will.

13 thoughts on “What Should PASS Be? I Challenge You”

  1. I think PASS should be what it is stated to be on http://www.sqlpass.org/AboutPASS/tabid/59/Default.aspx

    To expand:

    Grant has a great point that PASS should focus to be the leader in training and development. The Summit has so far been out of my reach for various reasons; SQL Rally and especially SQL Saturday are more what I need. Continuing to develop those resources and the speaker bureau will best serve me, as well as continued support for chapters, so they can help me. (help you help them help me, or something like that)

    That said, one of the most exciting reasons to subscribe to an email list … I mean join PASS … is NOT the training. Training is great, but I can get training from other places, and join other user groups. Maybe not as much from one organization, but there is a lot out there, both recorded and live. Not that you need to be told this, founder of SQLShare and all. I could even attend all the PASS training (outside of the Summit) without being a member.

    The best reason, IMHO, to join PASS is the stated “Working with Microsoft to influence the evolution of SQL Server products and services”. As a member of PASS who can’t make it to the Summit (yet), how do I accomplish this in a manner that is different/better from Connect? How does Microsoft currently reach out to PASS to shape their product? I know if I get to the Summit, I can talk to the SQL CAT team, and hundreds of them. Great. That’s not my point.

    If Summit = PASS, then that makes sense, but then stop pretending to be a ‘professional organization’ and be a sponser of the Summit and other training events, which PASS obviously does very well. If PASS = Community/training/SQLRally/SQLSat, and I can attend all those without being a member, then what is the compelling reason for me to “join” PASS? It must be the ability to use my membership to shape the product in a manner that is to my benefit.

    Therefore, what I think PASS should do in the next three years is to make PASS a group that has some sort of influence or whose opinions have a consideration with Microsoft that other organizations do not.

    If this is currently happening, I for one am not aware of it. I am not sorry that I joined PASS, but had I paid a membership fee, I would be wondering whether or not to renew, since non-members could contribute just as effectively as I can.

  2. Jon, we’ve struggled with what to do about membership, and still are. What would/could we offer that would justify a paid membership?

    I’ve long hoped we could exert some influence. I still have visions of once a quarter PASS urging our members to vote up 10 items on Connect. When a 1000 votes is a big deal right now, imagine if we drove 10k votes on some of those annoying but still important flaws we all live with!

  3. Membership – these are probably not all smart, but possible options. Wondering how many of these have already been tried/discussed and found wanting:
    1 – only allow members to attend training sessions/user groups. Creates a possible barrier, but if membership is even $5 annual, that’s $250k from membership alone (based on the “global membership of 50,000″ listed on http://www.sqlpass.org/AboutPASS/BecomeaMember.aspx)
    2 – offer discounts on Summit/SQLRally tickets, with general public still able to attend for current pricing structure. You could even do this in combination with #1, if I’m saving say $500 by joining for $5, that’s an obvious choice.
    3 – professional development. Similar to Grant’s suggestions, focusing on PASS’ ability to train. If I’m a fledgling speaker, finishing the speaker bureau and giving me an “in” to a PASS circuit of training sessions to build my chops gives me a reason to pay.
    4 – if you have a different, PASS-specific way to communicate and influence Microsoft, then there’s a reason to pay. If it’s just Connect, that’s not an incentive.
    5 – Something that has been discussed before, creating classifications for technical abilities (not necessarily certifications) that would allow a member to say they have certain abilities because they’ve, I don’t know, passed the virtual lab available on SQLpass or read all of the recommended reading list or something.
    6 – mentor program? ACM has something along these lines, if I could be Paul Randall’s sheep for a year (ew) that might be an incentive. Maybe.

    All of these then give PASS more than one revenue leg to stand on, and perhaps create a closer connection to the community by

    Great idea, btw on the Connect voting. Perhaps that’s something to include in the PASS slides to chapter leaders? If we (members) are more than lurkers and we can see how the leadership/other members of PASS feel an item warrants our attention, we should be willing to vote it up.

  4. hm, apparently I wasn’t done with that sentence in the second to last paragraph. Should read “…and perhaps create a closer connection to the community by focusing on the members as a revenue stream.”

  5. Jon, I think mentoring is a niche we could fill, and one that is worth doing. I’ll going to think on your membership fee idea. We’ve struggled to know what to do, but we have to do something soon. I’ll be re-reading the rest over the next week or so.

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