by Stephanie Ricketts, Board Member
Welcome to spring, Willy Street Co-op community! The Equinox falls on March 20th this year, and I hope you’re enjoying every extra second of daylight as much as I am. This winter has been a doozy, making me extra grateful for every little harbinger of the new season. Ramps, morels, fresh local greens: I can’t wait to see you in the Produce departments!
Policy Monitoring reports
Recently, the Board has reviewed a variety of policy monitoring reports. For those who might be reading this section of the Reader for the first time, the Willy Street Co-op Board follows a policy governance model. What does that mean? In a nutshell, the Board sets high level policies that guide the work of the General Manager, and evaluates progress towards the goals laid out in those policies via monitoring reports. Many of these reports are annual, although there are some (mainly financial policies) that the Board receives updates on more frequently. Monitoring the nuts and bolts of the organization falls into the fiduciary governance portion of the Board’s job, the aspect of governance that is focused on close oversight of immediate operational outputs and performance. On the Board’s Hierarchy of Needs, this would be the base of the pyramid.
So, what policies have been on the Board’s agenda recently?
Policy C9: Board Compensation: This policy outlines how the Board should be compensated for our work, and whether or not that compensation was accurately issued. (Side note: Board compensation consists of a 15% discount at the register, and a $200 stipend each month. The Board VP receives an additional $100/month, and the President an additional $200/month given their significantly higher workload). The Co-op is in compliance with this policy.
Policy B9: Management Continuity: This policy requires the General Manager to designate a well-qualified interim successor, should the GM unexpectedly, say, win the lottery and retire to France. In addition, the GM provides the Board with a management continuity plan for the organization as a whole. The Co-op is currently in compliance with this policy as well.
Policy B6: Staff Relations and Compensation: This policy describes the requirements for the General Manager relating to employee compensation, staff culture, and morale in general. Examples of items in this policy are ensuring the employee handbook is not in conflict with state, federal or local laws, establishing equitable benefits and compensation, and working toward a living wage model. For this policy, the Board opted to table the report to the next meeting, after asking some clarifying questions around some policy language specifics. We’ll be reviewing the details of this report again.
In addition, the Board is spending time considering how to be more strategic and generative in our leadership of the Co-op. Earlier I mentioned the base level of our Board governance pyramid, fiduciary governance. The next level up is strategic governance, wherein we set our gaze beyond just the immediate monitoring of the organization, ahead to where the organization wants to be three, five, seven years from now. This can look like, among other things, reviewing financial projections spanning beyond the calendar year, and discussing expansion and remodels. The Boards of the recent past have built a strong practice of strategic governance, which we new/newer Board members are striving to maintain.
Generative governance is the new frontier for the Willy Street Co-op Board, the top of our pyramid. Generative governance takes an even broader and deeper look at the organization’s overall mission, goals and trajectory. It involves asking lots of big questions, and having robust conversations about the co-op’s values and possibilities. As a group, we are beneftting from interim Board member Ann Hoyt’s insights on generative governance, and are learning how to balance our time between our fiduciary, strategic and generative responsibilities.