Do You Have One of “the Three W’s” to Sit on a Board of Directors?

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Let’s get one thing clear right off the bat – I’m not typing “Board of Directors” repeatedly throughout this blog post.  It’s just too much typing.  BoD will have to do.  Live with it. Perhaps, you’ve been paying attention to the PASS Twitter feed, read the newsletters, or otherwise stay abreast of happenings within PASS.  If you haven’t, here’s a news alert – it’s time for a new round of the PASS leadership cycle.  And since this is the season of PASS nominations, I thought it’d be an appropriate time to share some of my lessons learned about effective BoDs. Having spent over a decade … [Read more...]

IT Horror Stories – Managers Run Amuck!

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It seems like managers, so often, either go way overboard or go into hybernation and do way to little.  This month, I had the pleasure and horror to hear two stories of managers run amuck with power. The first is from a friend and IT professional I'll call Tony.  Tony said this: I worked for a firm as an IT manager when it was going through a relocation project.  We migrated from a shoddy IT infrastructure in a shoddy, unsecured server area (which had water pipes running around the back of the servers to the coffee machine with rodents visibly running around) to a shiny new office with a … [Read more...]

[OT] Gandhi’s Seven Social Sins

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In light of the 99% and "Occupy Wall Street" movements, the Great Recession, historic levels of partisan rancour, terrorism, environmental havok, and continuous global warfare, I am reminded of the great Mahatma Gandhi in "Young India", 1925, and his Seven Social Sins. Who can point to a list of social sins better than this: Politics without principles Wealth without work Pleasure without conscience Knowledge without character Commerce without morality Science without humanity Worship without sacrifice It seems like our society and our daily news broadcasts depict a nation whose … [Read more...]

Why I Do Not Support The Current PASS ExeCo Slate

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I read the PASS Officer Election announcement from June 15th with a bit of trepidation.  There was something about the announcement which made me uncomfortable, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. As a bit of background, the PASS "officers" are also known as the Executive Committee (ExeCo), as described in the PASS Bylaws in section VIII.10.  The ExeCo was added to the governance of PASS back in 2004-2005 as a check-and-balance against the extremely powerful office of president as described in the version of the bylaws PASS currently had in place at that time.  Prior to the ExeCo, the … [Read more...]

Women in Technology: A Quick Observation and a Quick Straw Poll

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A bit of background:  Those aren't grand daughters of the Clampetts in the picture at right.  Those are my three daughters and three stepdaughters, all of whom I want to inherit the world - as little or as much as they want to take hold of.  (I already talked a bit about this in a post on my personal, family blog.  Be warned, it's all boring family photos and such).  Enabling them to have all of the choices and opportunities that are open to my son is a big motivating factor in my life.  So many years ago, when several PASS volunteers wanted to start doing more to build a community of support … [Read more...]

Paying It Forward With Project Phoenix

It seems like I've known Arnie Rowland (blog | twitter) since the dawn of time.  But it's really more like the last several years, or at least since Arnie achieved Microsoft MVP status, that I really got to know him.  Arnie has also been trying to get me to speak to the user group he leads in Portland, but coordinating it has been fiendishly difficult.  I hope to get out to Portland in 2011 (no promises, Arnie!!!). One of the activities that Arnie is leading that has deeply impressed me is Project Phoenix.  Described here: ...we are inviting unemployed or underemployed developers to … [Read more...]

Plays Well With Others – So You’re the Boss Now…

I’m frequently asked the following paraphrased question: I’d been happily plugging away in my job as a {DBA/Dev/Terminator/Warp Drive Engineer} for several years, when I applied for the manager position.  I was surprised and thrilled when I got the job!  But now that I’ve been in the job for a while, I find that no one on the team is thrilled with me.  I know that I made a lot of changes.  But they were all for the good of the team.  What should I do to reconnect with my team and rebuild my friendships? A common theme in this series, “Plays Well With Others”, is that the skills … [Read more...]

Plays Well With Others – Eight Behaviors of Excellent Leaders

Last week,  I talked about one of the worst type of management scenarios to work under – the micromanager.  Now, let’s take that conversation from the “Dark Side” into the light to talk about great leaders. To say that Dr. William Cohen knows a few things about leadership is approximately the same as saying that Moby Dick was a fish.  Not only was Cohen a former Air Force major general, university president, and business leader, but he has many degrees (including a PhD) and even holds several engineering patents.  One of the many books authored by Dr. Cohen is the 1998 Best Business Book of … [Read more...]

Pirates of PASS: Curse of the Elections Process

Cross posted from Jorge Segarra's blog The last few weeks we’ve watched the drama unfold in regards to the PASS BOD elections. We’ve seen people attack criticize the NomCom, the board, PASS itself, the process and the decision of feeding of Gremlins after midnight. Thankfully the fireworks have died down and we can take a look at everything that has happened and make strides to move forward in a positive (and more importantly) constructive manner. Given that, I’ve been asked by my good friend Kevin Kline (Blog | Twitter) to respond to the following: Many in the community seem to think … [Read more...]

Plays Well With Others – Successful Directors versus Successful Technologists

The skills that enable a person to be a top-tier database professional have very little to do with being a successful member of a board of directors. So what skills are needed for a person to be successful on a board of directors for any large organization?  Here are a handful of skills, in no particular order, that I’ve seen demonstrated by very successful directors from days past: Strategic thinking Let’s face it - technology is detail-oriented work.  No database professional can be truly effective at their job if they never get the parameters correct when calling a function, can’t … [Read more...]