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.
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.
The Columinate Cooperative Board Leadership Development (CBLD) program provides annual board support that includes monthly consulting, facilitated board retreats, board training, and resource development. CBLD helps boards take advantage of their collective knowledge and talents, identify their annual goals, and connect with specific resources for their challenges of the moment. The program is run and staffed by industry professionals with experience and expertise in a variety of areas, and it can help to broaden the knowledge base each co-op has to draw upon to meet their goals.
Yes, it's true. HR specialist Carolee Colter's recent study of trends in the national Co-op GM Compensation Database reveals a disturbing trend of gender disparity. At every size of co-op from the smallest to the largest, female GMs earn less than their male peers.
How can co-op operations leaders begin to be innovative about what it will take to manage finances wisely during and after the COVID-19 pandemic – whatever “after” will look like? No one can accurately predict what the future of the co-op grocery world will look like, but Columinate consultants are on the leading edge of figuring out what can stay the same and what [...]
How can a Board and individual directors support their GM during a pandemic (or other crises)? Most of what you will find here will be generally useful even in “normal” times. During times of great crisis, these guidelines become even more important. Stay steady. Continue with your existing board work plan and responsibilities -- except when it makes sense to make exceptions. Stay [...]
Updated in 2017-18, this manual is the result of a collaboration between Columinate and National Co+op Grocers. It guides boards of directors of food cooperatives through the steps needed to ensure a clear and professional process, resulting in the hiring of a well-qualified manager. Those steps are: Arrange for interim management Set up a committee to coordinate the hiring process (the Search Committee) Define [...]
Maple City Market Goshen, IN Year founded: 1976 Membership investment: $100 Number of members: 3,000 Number of employees: 25 Recently, Goshen, Indiana was named “Community of the Year” by the state’s Chamber of Commerce. For many years, this northern Indiana town on the border of Michigan held many undiscovered charms. No longer. It’s an increasingly diverse town recognized for its civic pride, hosting many [...]
The Board’s Job Creating board policies is no easy task. Clearly articulating the board’s expectations of a general manager takes a lot of energy and focus—so boards can justifiably congratulate themselves once they’ve written down their expectations in a way that a manager can easily understand. But the board’s work doesn’t end there. Many boards, once they’ve created their policies and learned to empower—rather [...]
When Anne Carter came to Medford Food Co-op in Medford, Oregon, the startup co-op had been open for two years and was still establishing its operations and governance. Their internal situation was mirrored in the community-at-large. Medford was once a logging town, and the current 225,000 inhabitants were transitioning their economy to tourism and business services. That new dynamic, and a focus on health and sustainability, also led to the creation of the food co-op.