Notes from the 2016 SQLSaturday Roundtable Meeting

Each year PASS holds a meeting for SQLSaturday event leaders and key players on Tuesday morning. It’s a valuable meeting, though I have some criticisms about both format and content this year, more on that in a minute. Watching and listening, I appreciate more than ever that while it’s useful for the audience, it’s an incredibly event for the HQ/Board team that oversee the portfolio. I think it’s easy to get distant, to forget the real world impact of decisions, to be influenced by a small set of events/people with challenges without really checking to see if its a systemic issue. I think reconnecting with the people you serve as a group is just hugely important. You could say the same on the other side of course – many of us see the world as our local event and it’s eye opening and invigorating to hear different points of view. Now, on to some comments.

  • The meeting is 2 hours and that’s just not long enough. Why can’t we get 3 hours? Not time for the sake of time, but to add the biggest piece missing – time to network, to break into groups and work on ideas and challenges.There was definitely back and forth discussion, but it was all moderated based on the Board set agenda, which was in part based on surveys sent out. I think sending out the agenda ahead of time might spur more comments as to agenda topics. Give us time to just talk!
  • The slides were mostly awful. Hard to read. I know it’s one more thing but with an audience of 100 or so, it’s got to be easy to read and useful.
  • I was disappointed to hear that the latest IT analysis of how the software stack might evolve (things like using MailChimp) wouldn’t be done until AFTER the Summit. Useless. That could have been a grand discussion.
  • One of the goals on a slide was discussing “paid” SQLSaturday events, but then they said it was just an idea. Goal or idea? I don’t know. I think there are challenges worth discussion here, but it’s a big-big-big change to contemplate and has a lot of side affects. 
  • My friend Steve Jones briefly spoke about what it would take to get to 500 events per year. That’s not an immediate goal, it’s a way to reframe what and how we do things. Getting to even 200 events per year means re-thinking and accepting that it may cause pain – we may get fewer sponsor dollars, we may have to grow more speakers or have each do two sessions (I suspect few would complain). He also talked about running lean, doing the things that matter, being willing to run smaller events. I’m for all of that, but I’ll repeat (again) it’s a local event. If you have a great team and can serve 500-1000 attendees with all the bells and whistles, that’s fine with me. If you want to cap your event at 75 attendees and have them all bring their lunch, that’s good too.
  • Listening to the room I realize, again, we just don’t have a process in place for distributing lessons learned and new ideas tried/perhaps failed. I had hoped a monthly SQLSaturday specific email would be that channel, but it it’s been inconsistent and ineffective.
  • Not from the meeting directly, I also think it’s time to revisit the formula, particularly around sponsors. We built the model based on what we knew in early 2007. We’ve learned a LOT since then. I’m not suggesting wholesale change, but I’m willling to revisit every piece of it so that we can continue to serve, to serve more people, and maybe most important, do it in a way that doesn’t exhaust the team running on it.
  • We seem to disagree – event leaders vs HQ – on the goal and ROI of SQLSaturday. More on that soon.
  • I was amazed and energized by the cooperative and collaborative power in the room. We don’t all agree on all the details, but this group of people gets it, and gets it done.

Though I listed some complaints, I’m thrilled that the meeting continues. It does a lot of good and it time well spent.

One thought on “Notes from the 2016 SQLSaturday Roundtable Meeting

  1. I second the motion for 3 hours. I traveled a long way and skipped Pre-Cons this day primarily for THIS meeting. I spent the rest of the week seeking out SQL Sat organizers in order to learn and collaborate with them since I didn’t get to do much of that at the meeting. Suggestion… and I will make and distribute them next year (if I attend as it will be Halloween…) “SQL Sat Organizer” badge ribbons to easily identify peers to network and brainstorm with. Maybe have specific lunch tables…


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