Growing Leaders from Within

By Melanie Reid 186 Sept-Oct 2016 As co-ops evolve and expand and our industry continuously changes, it’s important that we have mechanisms in place that enable employees to see career pathways within our organizations. Opportunities to learn new things and grow within the organization are important for everyone on the co-op staff roster. If their training ends after 90 days, you probably have some [...]

Open Book Management: Emerging lessons in the food co-op world

By Jeanie Wells 168 September-October 2013 Has your co-op considered Open Book Management? Chances are that even if you haven’t implemented it but have attended a food co-op conference in the past three years, you have heard talk about Open Book Management. That’s because it has been slowly but steadily catching fire throughout the North American food co-op sector. Some stores are having great [...]

Daily Operations: Fostering Staff Empowerment and Accountability

As we continue our year-long examination of the empowerment and accountability stream in food co-ops, the point in the sequence where the rubber really hits the road is in the day-to-day functioning of the co-op’s operations. This is the stage in the cycle where the vision gets implemented in myriad ways: through customer interactions, workplace culture and operational systems development. It’s the intersection between [...]

Co-op Is Number One

It’s a simple and elegant concept: The co-op comes first. This is Diedrie Lang’s approach to decision-making that has helped her create a work culture at Kootenay Co-op that is based on mutual respect and transparency. If everyone understands that their number one priority is the continual improvement of the co-op on behalf of its members, then the co-op will achieve a fully-functioning empowerment [...]

Case Study: Empowering Teams for Greater Leadership

People’s Food Co-op La Crosse, Wis. Year founded: 1973 Number of members:4,317 Equity investment:$100 individual, $25 to add one household member Number of staff: 125 Retail square feet:13,200 ­including Hackberry’s restaurant At People’s Food Co-op in La Crosse, Wis., General Manager Michelle Schry leads a management team that has had very little turnover since she began managing the co-op 10 years ago. The team [...]

Foster Operational Empowerment and Accountability for Growth

The query posed by conventional business leaders—can empowerment and accountability coexist?—is not a question food co-op managers generally ask. That’s because it’s an expectation. Cooperatives are, by design, organizations that are based on democratic principles that assign empowerment and accountability to its participants. The ideal consideration is not to posit whether it’s even possible, but to make it happen. Top-down management has not historically [...]

Cooperative Strategic Leadership Article

By Art Sherwood 157 November - December - 2011 There has been much discussion, debate and downright argument about the role of the board in the strategic process of our co-ops. "Isn't that getting into operations? Aren't our hands tied by our governance system? Isn't "strategy" a taboo word to raise in the board room since that is supposed to be the general manager's [...]

Empowerment of the Board and Accountability of the GM

At this juncture in our series examining the empowerment and accountability stream in food co-ops, we understand that at all points along the way co-op stakeholders need systems that allow for the clear flow of delegation and responsibility. However, it can be argued that the dynamism of the empowerment stream often hinges on the handoff of power from the board to the general manager, [...]

Power Triggers, Seesaw Battles and Handcar Cooperation

By Art Sherwood 154 May - June - 2011 Most would agree that a healthy board-general manager relationship not only makes the co-op run more smoothly, it is a critical connection between member-owners and operations in our democratically controlled organizations. Yet the health of this working relationship often remains elusive or at least can come under stress. It can "turn on a dime at [...]