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Improving Our Policy- Monitoring Work

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.”-Neil Gaiman


Last year, I wrote to you about the Co-op’s new Ends approved by the Board of Directors in our 2015 Retreat. While that may not seem like a significant event, this began a series of updates, iterations and improvements in our work and how we lead our Co-op toward success. In 2017, your Board is focused on building upon our governance foundational skills and creating better systems of accountability that can empower each of us in our work.

With new Ends in hand, we had a more compelling statement to explain the purpose and direction of our Co-op in clear language that makes sense to all our stakeholders. From there, it was necessary to review our entire policy roster—which is the foundation of our governance work. We completed this policy refresh at the end of 2016. 

Adding an updated roster of policies to our new Ends statement, we next dedicated time to making improvements in another very important function of our Board work: policy monitoring. This is where we report on whether we have done what we have set out to do within the boundaries defined by our policies. So, to sum it up, we now have a better way to tell stakeholders what we are trying to achieve (Ends), how we will direct our work to achieve that (policies), and results of our work over a period of time (monitoring reports).

As Kathy Kemnitz wrote about in last month’s Reader, we dedicated time in our November 2016 Board Retreat to improving our policy monitoring capabilities. Starting in our January Board meeting, we adopted a new approach to reporting on compliance or non-compliance with our policies as each comes due for monitoring on a revolving annual review schedule. 

This new approach strives to provide everyone with a shared understanding of what compliance with the policy looks like, how it is reached, and data to support the designation of compliance or non-compliance. Going forward, our policy monitoring reports will include:

•Interpretation of the meaning of the policy from the General Manager (or the Board, depending on who’s responsible for monitoring the policy).

•Operational definitions that explain what metrics are reasonable to review or report on in the effort of determining if compliance was achieved.

•Data: the results that were seen over the reporting period in the defined metrics that point to compliance or non-compliance. 

With this expanded information in our reports, the Board will be able to more accurately determine accountability and adherence to our policies. We will be able to know with confidence if the interpretation and operational definitions are reasonable, if there was adequate data to determine compliance or accomplishment and whether the data demonstrates compliance or accomplishment. If any element of the monitoring report is unreasonable or incomplete, we have a framework for reassessing or rejecting the monitoring report, and in the case of non-compliance, a process for requesting additional information, scheduling follow-up or ongoing monitoring for a set timeframe, or consequences for the General Manager or Board. At the end of the year, we’re able to see a summary of all monitoring reports, any non-compliance issues and actions being taken to correct deviations from compliance to policies.

While this may sound like nitty-gritty or exhausting details, this is in fact a core function of our work as a Board overseeing the direction of our Co-op. The better we are at this work, the healthier our Co-op willbe, and we’ve committed to improving on this work in this new year. We are humbled by how involved and engaged Owners are in the Co-op and our community and we owe it to Owners to learn, grow and push ourselves to new and better outcomes for all.


We will continue to bring you along in our journey of the Board’s work. To contact your Board of Directors, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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