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Retreat Takes Co-op To End(s)

November 14th and 15th your Board of Directors and key management team members met to discuss the vision and future of our cooperative.

We had four objectives for our retreat:

  1. Strengthen the foundation of our cooperative governance system.
  2. Develop a shared sense of Board priorities and evaluate how we do our work to ensure that it is sustainable and effective.
  3. Cultivate our Board-General Manager relationship.
  4. Dig into our new Ends policies with the top leadership team and contemplate how we, as leaders, will make them resonate throughout our organization.

Rose Marie Klee, CDS Consulting Co-op, facilitated our discussions. We met at “A Place to Be” on Williamson Street. Meeting for 12 hours over two days is a challenge. We all entered the retreat with different distractions and expectations. Many of us, including myself, entered the retreat with trepidation. The Board and Co-op as a whole struggled with some tough issues in 2015.

Nourishing and rewarding
The retreat could have been tiresome, but I am happy to report it was nourishing. We had rewarding conversations that connected us further as a team. The greater time commitment allowed for more meaningful, deeper conversations than we often have at monthly Board meetings due to other pressing needs. We had more time to reflect and appreciate each other. The greatest outcome was shared vision, which is a little hard to describe. It is as much about appreciation, understanding, empathy, and awareness as it is about widgets. Before our retreat we had some reading homework about Servant Leadership and Governing with Awareness and Discipline.

Oscar Mayer
Many of us are concerned with the looming loss of Oscar Mayer as a pillar of our community. The Co-op operates with different values and a different scale, but we recognize that Willy Street Co-op is a pillar of our community. We can feel satisfaction that a cooperatively owned business democratically controlled will not leave the community. We are one and the same.

A strong pillar
To remain a strong pillar of the community, the Co-op needs to reflect on the past, consider the present, and plan for the future. What will our relevancy be as the community changes with new competition and changing demographics?

The Board decided the following should be the basis for our path forward:

Willy Street Grocery Co-op will be at the forefront of a cooperative and just society that:

  • has a robust local economy built around equitable relationships;
  • nourishes and enriches our community and environment; and
  • has a culture of respect, generosity, and authenticity.

Ends Policies
In the cooperative world bold vision statements are called Ends. Ends are an important part of our policy governance. They basically guide everything the Co-op does. The new Ends statement is much shorter and clearer than our previous ones. They are deliberately inspirational—reflecting the impact we want to make in the world.

The next step will be for the staff to interpret what the Ends mean and the actions we can take to make meaningful impact in our community. The Board collaborates with staff to be sure we are in alignment on the interpretations. We also find metrics we can use to measure progress towards our desired impacts.

Future Reader articles will elaborate on our progress. Hopefully, you will also see our Co-op be a more strategic pillar in the community.

Our next Board Meeting will be in January 2016.

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