Improve Operations

Online in November: Financial Training for Directors

By |2022-11-01T14:37:09-04:00October 26th, 2022|

Enrollment for Columinate's Financial Training for Directors is open! This will be the last session of this series in 2022, and we'd love to see you there. Monitoring the financial health of the organization is often the most intimidating responsibility assigned to co-op directors—but it doesn’t have to be! This training “covers the most important and critical aspects of co-op finances in a thoughtful, easy-to-understand manner,” explains Dave Olson, senior director of retail support at National Co+op Grocers. “Whether [you] just need a refresher or are entirely new to financial concepts, this virtual series can empower [you] to understand and participate in financial conversations with confidence.”

Governance for Co-op and Nonprofit Boards Part 2

By |2022-10-10T18:21:06-04:00October 10th, 2022|

In 2014, Columinate introduced co-ops to the Four Pillars of Governance in an effort to show how the Policy Governance model fits in a broader framework of governance. As part of his work as a Visiting Scholar at the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop on Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Art Sherwood collaborated with Marilyn Scholl and others from Columinate to create this model to help organizations govern flexibly and effectively. A model is a way of framing so that the parts and processes make sense. Our Four Pillars model is not about changing systems but is a new way of making sense of governance. In the eight years since we introduced it, we have found that it helps organize board thinking about the complex task of governance. It does not supplant other theories or systems of governance, but rather provides a framework for boards to use in developing and applying those systems.

Governance for Co-op and Nonprofit Boards Part 1

By |2022-10-10T18:11:33-04:00October 10th, 2022|

Often challenges within the board stem from a lack of agreements about governance. Cooperatives and nonprofit organizations differ in key ways from private corporations. Perhaps most importantly, operating within a defined social purpose requires skillful and conscientious governance by the board of directors—and the board’s leadership is felt throughout the entire organization. Governance is the act of steering an organization toward success. It consists of answering key questions, defining roles and responsibilities, and establishing processes for setting expectations and ensuring accountability.

GM Development: Opportunities for General Manager Growth and Learning

By |2022-09-19T17:28:36-04:00September 19th, 2022|

Two upcoming classes in the GM Development program cover interesting and relevant topics for diverse general managers, but especially those who are new to their position. The first is called “Co-op Culture, Diversity, and Engaging Stakeholders.” It explores the way cooperative culture helps a general manager bring together all of the relationships within their co-op. The course also focuses on increasing and strengthening diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within participating co-ops.

Taking Control: For resident-owned communities, Marcia Sprague provides community and board trainings

By |2022-09-08T12:31:24-04:00September 8th, 2022|

Columinate has a small team of organizers, trainers, and governance specialists who work specifically with resident-owned communities. The team offers "bench strength" to ROC USA®, and ROC affiliates work by providing communities with temporary team members who pitch in to do the work of community organizing, governance coaching, and co-op education and training. Meet Marcia Sprague.

Interim General Manager Spotlight: Introducing Brandon Kane

By |2022-08-18T12:24:33-04:00August 18th, 2022|

New Columinate consultant Brandon Kane has areas of expertise that include business development and operational and financial improvement. He offers interim general manager (IGM) services and can help assess retail performance, including developing strategic plans for rapid implementation. Kane answered some questions about what brought him to Columinate and his areas of focus. 

Interim General Manager Spotlight: Introducing Chris Morris

By |2022-08-18T12:14:32-04:00August 18th, 2022|

New Columinate consultant Chris Morris has diverse areas of expertise that include retail operations leadership, training and development, and merchandising. He can help co-ops looking for a culture and diversity champion or for community partnerships. Morris also has experience and knowledge in management transitions and the FDA Food Code. Chris Morris answered some questions about what brought him to Columinate and about his areas of focus.

Dana Tomlin: Helping the River Valley Co-op team

By |2022-08-17T20:35:51-04:00August 17th, 2022|

River Valley Co-op, located in western Massachusetts, opened its second location in the summer of 2021. Amid a raging global pandemic, debilitating supply disruptions, and unprecedented worker shortages, they were able to open the doors of the beautiful net-zero facility and welcome the residents of Easthampton. The co-op saw great success in its original location, growing sales to over $30M since opening their doors in 2008. However, weaknesses of the original location carried over to the challenges of launching a second store, and within a few months of opening the Easthampton location, General Manager Rochelle Prunty was looking for some help. Enter Dana Tomlin.

Mighty Community Markets: Tools for Small and Independent Grocers

By |2022-08-10T17:40:01-04:00July 27th, 2022|

“I’m on a mission to build strong stores.” —Jeanie Wells Having the right tools to succeed in retail is crucial if you want to survive—and it is doubly crucial if your store is at a competitive disadvantage. Small independent stores often do not have the resources needed to build sound foundational retail practices and set their teams up for success. Training programs designed [...]