Shut Up (When You Can)

Far too few people realize it, but sometimes it is okay to just shut up. Let me illustrate.

I’m part of the technology committee at my sons’ school. The committee, made up of parents, teachers, and staff, helps make technology decisions for the school. This ranges from computer hardware upgrades and smartboards for the classrooms to online textbooks and, of course, the school’s web site. In one meeting, the question came up of whether to move the school’s web site to a new web host.

I had only just joined the technology committee and I tend to be fairly quiet in new situations. I like to watch and listen and understand the dynamics of the group before diving in. On the other hand, this question was practically tailored for me. So, after the group finished discussing the reasons for changing (the biggest being restrictive email quotas and a desire for something better than Fantastico for managing installations of common scripts), I was going to suggest a new host.

Before I could, however, another member of the team suggested BlueHost. As it happens, I was going to suggest BlueHost/HostMonster myself, so I could simply nod and agree with the suggestion.

Why BlueHost? Nevermind that it’s great host, BlueHost solves their immediate problems. No storage limits means that they can remove the quotas on their mailboxes. Simple Scripts gives them solid up-to-date script management.

(Why not HostMonster? It’s a Catholic school and I felt weird suggesting something with “monster” in the name to a nun.)

Some would argue that I should have spoken up right away. I definitely would have with a client, but this was a volunteer situation that was still new to me. Even so, I wouldn’t have let them pick a host like Globat without a lot of noise.

Did I miss out on a chance to look good by not being the one who suggested BlueHost? Maybe, (a) ego is overrated and (b) a volunteer committee situation isn’t really the place to look for glory.

In the end, I got what I wanted (the school using a good host) my being quiet. There was nothing to gain by being vocal and advocating strongly for one host over another. The host I wanted was the frontrunner from the beginning so why speak up.

A little later, we also decided to rebuild the website and there I did speak up. They had been using Exponent CMS which, while not dead, is certainly not an active project in the way other CMSs like WordPress or Drupal are. As the new web guy on the committee, I was able to push for switching to WordPress and redesigning the site (it needed it). I got what I wanted here as well (albeit along with the job of rebuilding the site) to a certain extent because I had been quiet before. Since I had held back during the hosting discussion, I didn’t look like I was trying to control too many decisions.

Something to consider next time you are in a committee situation: if things are going the right way, there is nothing wrong with just closing your mouth and leaving well enough alone.

By the way, the school web site project took a while to become a priority and things didn’t really start happening until August of this year. And on Monday, the school’s new web site, redesigned and built by me using WordPress, was launched. On BlueHost.

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