CBLD Resource Spotlight: Updated Policy Register Template

CBLD Resource Spotlight: Updated Policy Register Template

  |  January 18, 2022

The new year is a time for reflection and revision, and co-op boards are no exception. Whether your board has just decided to implement Policy Governance® or your board wants to refresh existing policies, the updated 2021 Policy Register Template provides a great opportunity to start these conversations. Recently released from Columinate’s Cooperative Board Leadership Development (CBLD) group, this resource provides policy examples that can jumpstart your own policy development or review process.

To learn more about these new updates, we connected with Columinate consultant and CBLD Team Coordinator Leslie Watson. Leslie, who has been with CBLD since 2013, has extensive experience with board governance and development.

What is the Policy Register Template?

The Policy Register Template is a resource for co-op boards that use (or want to use) policies to codify and clarify their working agreements, roles, and relationships. It’s a resource that contains sample policy templates and language that co-op boards can use to develop or revise their own policies.

“CBLD’s first Policy Register Template was developed over fifteen years ago to assist boards in adopting Policy GovernanceⓇ,” explains Leslie. “It was a super-helpful sample set of policies that laid out things like how boards would oversee operations and how the board would work with itself.”

However, the initial Policy Register Template was quite different from the version we have today.

“Over the years, people learn. There has been a lot of evolution in how we talk about governance and how we make the system work for community-owned businesses, so the policy templates have been adapted over time to reflect these changes.”

What’s New in the 2021 Policy Register Template Update?

This 2021 version of the Policy Register Template is the first major overhaul to the standard policy template since 2017. Leslie, alongside five other consultants, spent three months updating the Policy Register Template. “Our update is really rooted in lived experience. It’s a great example of how we really learn the most about what works and what doesn’t from the experience of our clients.”

One significant update found in this 2021 version is a commitment to anti-oppression, equity, and inclusion integrated throughout the entire template. These are both updates to expectations for how a general manager runs the business, and also to expectations for how the board thinks of its own work.

In addition to this, the 2021 update includes some changes in how a co-op board can approach planning. “Of course, the policies still require a business plan, financial projections, and so on, but we also included more aspirational language around the spirit and purpose in which we think about planning and its influence on outcomes.”

Finally, this 2021 version brings a fresh focus on the relationships between everyone at the co-op: the board, the GM, the staff, and the customers.

“The pandemic has lifted up the challenges of operating in this market. It’s important to hold each other to the highest standard, but it’s equally important to have relationships that are really rooted in trust and respect.”

 Who Should Use This New Update?

Any co-op boards looking to create new policies or refresh existing ones should use this resource. “Working through this 2021 update is worth it,” says Leslie. “It offers your board the opportunity to pause and think about your policies and these suggested revisions. A template is never meant to dictate what you do. Rather, it allows you to have intentional conversations about how you might want your policies to look.”

Despite what one may think, now could be a great time for co-op boards to engage in this strategic work. While the pandemic has challenged day-to-day operations, Leslie finds that, “In many ways there is more time for boards to prioritize this work. Some of their typical activities are on hold. This is the type of project a board can work on in a shared Google doc or over Zoom.”

What Other CBLD Resources Are Available

In addition to the Policy Register Template, CBLD will be offering a host of resources and webinars this year to support your co-op board:

If you’re not already a CBLD member, you can still enroll today.  See a full schedule of upcoming events here.


Want to Learn More?

Learn how to use the Policy Register Template.

Read up on Policy Governance.

Learn more about Leslie Watson’s work on her consultant page.

Have more questions?

Get in touch with one of our consultants.

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