Grab and Go Governance

Grab and Go Governance

  |  February 12, 2015


Ever had someone ask that simple question: What is the board’s job anyway? and wondered where to start? The CDS Consulting Co-op model for cooperative governance, the Four Pillars of Cooperative Governance can help!

We identify four pillars built on a foundation of Cooperative Identity that lead to the success of the cooperative. Each piece helps tell the story of the board’s job.

At the top is Success of the co-op and the positive impact the co-op delivers for its members and community. Articulating organizational outcomes is serious business for the board of a co-op.
To do this (in fact, to do anything!), the board needs to be able to work together for shared purpose. We call this Teaming. Being able to sustain a great team takes a continual effort.

Just as the member-owners empower and hold the board accountable, the board empowers and holds management accountable for co-op performance. This is usually done by creating expectations and assigning authority to a General Manager and systematically checking performance. We call this work Accountable Empowerment and define it as successfully empowering people while at the same time holding them accountable for the power granted.

We describe Strategic Leadership as: Successfully articulating the cooperative’s direction/purpose and setting up the organization for movement in this direction. Being well prepared for decisions and showing visible support for the co-op’s plans and priorities are two good examples.

The fourth pillar is Democracy which we describe as: Successfully sustaining a culture in which people choose meaningful ways to participate for both individual and common good. The board plays an important role in shaping the meaning of democracy and participation for your co-op.

Grab and Go Governance tips:

  • Describe your board as a Cooperative Governance board using components of the Four Pillars model. Take time in your meetings to practice answering the question “What is the board’s job?”
  • Use our multi-year planner to build a board workplan using the Four Pillars model.
  • Take a look at our sample policies to see how the Four Pillars model can be incorporated into your board’s policies.
  • General managers can think about their relationship with their board in terms of the Four Pillars model and then work to enhance the relationship in the context of each of the pillars.

Grab and Go Solutions is a resource from CDS Consulting Co-op to provide easy to implement solutions to common issues facing food co-ops. Watch for future releases tackling a wide variety of topics including HR, governance,  member engagement, safety, store and growth.

Brought to you by CDS Consulting Co-op GO Team Members


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