The 2016-17 ODTUG Board Election…and what it all means

In just a few days on September 7, 2015, the ODTUG Board opens itself up to Full. On. Political. Warfare. Just kidding…but it is *that* time of year folks! Election time! Let’s get on our game faces and wish all of the candidates the best of luck!

Last year we saw a record 22 folks vying to land one of the 4 coveted ODTUG Board positions. Time can only tell, but I expect that the number of election candidates will steadily grow over the years. ODTUG is a great organization and our folks want to serve this ever expanding community of awesomeness. Being on the ODTUG Board is not only a rite of passage as a leader – it also entails a high bar for service for our thousands of members and, rightfully, holds a good level of honor and respect.

What Does it Take to be an ODTUG Board Member?

As you may have noticed, there are currently 9 total elected Board members for ODTUG. (There is also one non-elected Board member which is the Executive Director role held by ODTUG’s YCC’s leader. More on who YCC is in a later blog post…) These 9 elected people fulfill the following formal ODTUG Board roles which you can read more about here:

  • President
  • Vice President
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary
  • Director (default position for non-officers)

Although the above are formal positions, the truth of the matter is that ODTUG Board members are often asked to do more. For instance, just to name an obvious stretch role: Natalie is not only the ODTUG Vice President, but she’s also the Conference Chair for KScope16. In addition, there are Board liaisons for each of the ODTUG communities and Board members often participate in standing and ad hoc committees. This is all in addition to work and personal commitments. Many hats, folks, many hats…

Not only is there a time commitment with formal duties required, but there’s also an unspoken minimum set of traits. When you look at who’s currently serving on the Board what qualities do you see in common? Intelligence, leadership, experience, loyalty, service, open-mindedness, personality…and the list goes on and on.

As stated in the bylaws, once elected, ODTUG Board members serve for 2 years total. They can be reelected up to 2 consecutive times, at which point they must take a minimum 4-year break (a new bylaw added at the end of 2014 that takes affect after the 2015-2016 voting period). In addition, Board members: have regular meetings throughout the year, work tirelessly due to the high standards they set for themselves, and are held accountable for their responsibilities. Note that you have to be a paid (or lifetime) ODTUG member to run for the Board.

What Does it Take to Vote on the ODTUG Board?

So let’s be clear here…not just anyone can vote on the incoming group of ODTUG Board members. You must be a full ODTUG member (translation: paid) to be able to vote…either an individual or corporate paid member or a lifetime member. Begin shameless plug in 3…2…1… Being a paid ODTUG member has its rewards. It costs only $99 a year and you save $150 on the KScope registration. So if you plan to go to KScope16 and not present, ODTUG is basically paying you to be a member. You receive access to all sorts of cool stuff on the ODTUG website. This includes career-changing training. (I’m not joking.) If you’re interested in becoming a paid member, please look here. If you’re interested in hearing about all of the awesome benefits of being a paid member, please read Adrian’s blog post here.

The Mechanics of an ODTUG Board External Election

Each September the ODTUG Board nominations open up. This is when people of the ODTUG organization throw their hat into the ring or nominate others to do the same. Each of the folks nominated are then vetted to ensure that they qualify. Then the fun begins. As far as I know, there is no cap on how many people can run. (Note that I don’t have all of the rules memorized – there is a hefty list of formal bylaws that govern this entire process.)

Once the deadline passes, all nominations are collated and organized. Nominees are announced, campaign statements and bios are posted, and then the voting process begins in early October and ends in late October (using last year’s ODTUG election post as a reference). Voting is a pretty open process. There are some basic rules:

  • The above mentioned rule that you must be a full ODTUG member in order to vote
  • You can only cast a number of votes equal to the number of open positions
  • You can only cast one vote per candidate

Political aside: The rules above are pretty easy and logical. However, think about what’s not mentioned – which is what often drives the varying strategies used for voting. (Isn’t democracy great?) For instance, there is currently no cap set on the number of elected Board members that can represent a single technology set. There are also no rules regarding how many Board members can come from the same company, how many Board members can be from Oracle partners vs. Oracle customers, how much experience a Board member has, etc. (Note that Oracle employees and those who are members of another international or national Oracle user group Board of Directors cannot be part of the ODTUG Board – this is stated in the bylaws.) I also don’t see bylaws regarding ODTUG Board member geography – several past Board members were from non-U.S. countries…attention: international ODTUG’ers.

^^ I don’t point out these details to indicate that I disagree with the open format of the ODTUG Board. I point them out to show the great variety of folks who can run, in case there was any hesitation.

Some people do hold the belief that the ODTUG Board elections are a popularity contest. There are many ways to interpret what a “popularity contest” entails. My definition is a process where community members blindly vote for their friends without putting any strategic thought into it. That’s an unfortunate characterization, but this could happen. Based on discussions I’ve had with my ODTUG friends, I like to think that the majority of ODTUG’ers think about who they’re voting for as a collective whole. #FoodForThought

Once the voting process is complete, the votes are tallied and then the newly elected ODTUG Board members are communicated publicly.

Last year was an amazing election year. The amount of talent in the contender pool created some very stiff competition. I saw several riveting election campaigns spread across blog posts, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The passion was clear and the heartbreak was real.

The Mechanics of an ODTUG Board Internal Election

After the new ODTUG Board is seated in January, an internal election occurs. By ballot, the Board members elect each of the formal 4 officer positions: President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary. These positions hold for 1 year, which is why this internal election occurs annually. The Vice President and President roles can be served by the same people for up to 4 consecutive years. There are currently no formal bylaws preventing the ODTUG President role from sharing other formal duties, like Conference Committee positions. However, I have confirmed that there is an unwritten rule about the same person being both the ODTUG President and the Conference Chair at the same time. In the past, folks have intentionally vacated one role to fulfill the other.

Once this process is complete, the new positions are communicated publicly. New pictures of the Board are taken and the ODTUG “Meet the Board” page gets updated.

What Does All of it Mean?

This election year is a very special one. If you attended KScope15 you might recall a tear-jerking farewell speech by our current ODTUG President, Monty Latiolais. Monty has been the President (and a damn good one) for over 3 years. After the 2015 calendar year, Monty says goodbye to his formal duties on the Board. (sniff, sniff) You see, Monty will officially max out on his term limits. He will not be allowed to serve on the ODTUG Board again until at least 4 years pass. However, Monty (being the progressive thinker and benevolent leader that he is) has decided to one up the rules. He has declared that this year will officially be his last…he’ll be “put out to pasture” as he described it. Meaning, he won’t choose to serve on the Board again. He hopes to pass the torch onto the next bright ODTUG leader. He wants to be succeeded and he strongly believes that this makes the organization stronger in the long run. “We need to look for and grow our next set of leaders” he once stated in a call. We’ll sure miss you, Monty.

Due to term limits, 5 people are rolling off from the ODTUG Board this year: Monty, Natalie, Dave, Martin, and Mia. Because Monty has maxed out his term limit, he cannot rerun. This means that we are sure to see at least one new face on the Board…and most importantly, a brand new ODTUG President! Therefore, for those of you voting, you might want to take this into consideration when you make your choices this year. As there aren’t any rules requiring prior ODTUG Board experience for the Presidency, you might be selecting the new ODTUG President. Exciting stuff!

One final thought…last year there was disappointment when certain sub communities didn’t see representation on the Board. Case in point…the ODTUG BI Community is not currently formally represented. Luckily, Kevin McGinley graciously stepped up to assist. There were clearly some great BI candidates that ran, so there was much disappointment when it didn’t happen. If you feel that a particular area is under-represented then there are a minimum of three actions you should consider taking for this year’s election:

  1. Rally your troops! Gain strength in numbers and campaign!
  2. Encourage folks from your camp to sign up for a paid membership so they can formally vote.
  3. Remind people to vote before the deadline is up.

How Do I Know All of This and Why Did I Write This?

I’m sure some of you reading this post are probably wondering why I wrote this blog post and how in the world I could possibly know all of these details.

How do I know this information? It’s very simple…I did the research and asked. Most of this information is available on the ODTUG website. Contrary to unpopular belief, no one’s hiding anything. It’s just that many of the Board members aren’t prolific writers who wax poetic about ODTUG politics. (Note that there are no bylaws preventing Board members from commenting on elections.) I’m also betting that most Board members are lacking in time. This type of write-up requires more than 140 characters.

Is there a hidden personal motivation? Yes, I will admit that there is. The truth of the matter is that I’m a firm believer in transparency. You may have figured this out with my tweets and blog posts over the past few years while serving in my conference committee roles. I personally feel that a community is better served when they can make as fully an informed decision as possible. In addition, I’m an anal-retentive, organizing perfectionist. I can’t help but collect information, analyze it to death, and then summarize it in a centralized way for efficient consumption…much like how I treat my personal hobbies. (You should see my office.)

More references: Dave Schleis, current Board member, wrote a wonderful piece about volunteerism and the ODTUG Board. Mike Riley, another current Board member (who is also the Superman who helped clean up the bylaws), wrote an interesting political strategy piece on the 2015 ODTUG Board election. He also summarized the importance of voting in a new blog post for 2015. You might want to check these posts out for additional context and perspective. I’m sure there were some other great articles…these are the ones that stand out in my memory.

Update 9/6/15: ODTUG has officially posted the Board Responsibilities and Nomination guidelines here.

Gratitude: Thanks to the ODTUG Board members who fact checked this article. Much appreciation for clarifying the bylaws!

So…with all of that being said…who’s running for the ODTUG Board this year? Do you have what it takes?

Happy election! Good luck to the 2016 ODTUG Board candidates!

May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor Badge

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