The Cooperative Advantage

By |2019-09-09T23:30:00-04:00August 24th, 2017|

Sometimes the obvious isn’t so obvious. Just because we have co-op in our name does not mean that people will really understand what that means. The formal definition of a cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise. But we need to give that meaning life. [...]

Skills for Building the Board-General Manager Relationship

By |2019-09-07T01:15:23-04:00August 9th, 2017|

There is nothing more fundamental to cooperative governance than the board-GM relationship. After all, the entire leadership of the co-op rests on how the board and the general manager work together in their respective roles, which are unique and non-redundant. The work that the board must do to lead and execute its board duties is not the same work that the general manager must [...]

Everyone Welcome? Considering Race and Food Co-ops

By |2021-12-07T13:22:49-05:00July 12th, 2017|

Three years ago, we were participants in a workshop designed to raise awareness of racial bias, particularly in progressive organizations. As part of that Training for Change session in Minneapolis in 2014, everyone was asked what we would like to do as next steps. Part of our professional work as consultants is to bring a variety of people together in co-ops to better [...]

The Power of Board Perpetuation Planning

By |2019-09-07T01:03:47-04:00June 15th, 2017|

Board perpetuation is a key task for directors, and actively pursuing it throughout the year (and every year) creates a powerful influence in the quality of board work. The first step is having a strong list of potential candidates before the election cycle. There are a variety of components to building a candidate pool, from board to member communications (newsletter articles, social media, email, [...]

Cooperative Ends, Impact, and Telling the Story

By |2019-09-09T16:18:31-04:00April 12th, 2017|

An individual member-owner or customer or vendor could probably describe how the co-op impacts their life: This is where I get the food that feeds my family. Or, I see all my friends here. Or, this is the center of my community. Or, I make my living by selling my products here. But how can the co-op describe the collective impact it has on [...]

What Drives Co-op Employee Engagement

By |2019-09-07T00:38:43-04:00March 9th, 2017|

Workplace employee engagement is a hot topic.  Open any human resources publication and you’ll find countless articles on making work fun, motivational and results-oriented.  No matter what the individual strategies are to achieve that, the connection people feel to the business values and whether they feel aligned with them is a big part of fostering engagement in the workplace. While some workplaces may struggle [...]

New North Willy Street Co-op Serves Needs and Values

By |2021-12-06T19:19:11-05:00November 14th, 2016|

Willy Street Co-op Madison, Wisc. Year founded:  1974 Equity investment:  $56 single/$91 household + $2 service fee Number of members:  34,000 Number of employees:  420 Number of locations:  3 retails, commissary kitchen, central office Every day food co-ops must make decisions within the context of one of the most intractable dilemmas of the grocery industry.  How does the co-op reconcile customer desire for lower [...]

Master the Fundamentals of Governance Leadership

By |2019-09-07T00:35:01-04:00September 8th, 2016|

Good leaders often ask this question:  what would set us up for success?  Most of the time the answer is simple.  Master the fundamentals.  By being good at the basics—like being committed to consistent governance systems and applying respectful, inclusive communication to discussions and decisions—success as a board member is most-likely assured.  Yet, it’s harder than it looks in practice.  That’s exactly why fundamentals [...]

East Aurora: Early, Impactful Investment Led to Opening Co-op

By |2019-09-07T00:16:03-04:00July 6th, 2016|

East Aurora Co-op Market East Aurora, NY Founded:  2010 Opened:  June 2016 Number of members:  1,280 Number of employees:  25 Member investment:  $200 Retail square feet:  4,445 East Aurora Food Co-op in upstate New York has been open for over a month now, but they continue to celebrate the co-op’s opening in large and small ways.  It is always a giant accomplishment for a [...]

Ambitious Community Outreach Yields Big Results

By |2019-09-07T00:05:18-04:00May 11th, 2016|

Common Ground Food Co-op Urbana, IL Year founded:  1974 Number of members:  5,800 Member equity:  $60 Number of employees:  95 Retail square feet:  8,000 Common Ground Food Co-op in Urbana, Ill. has been one of the fastest-growing food co-ops in the country.  When they moved to Lincoln Square Mall, their expansion plans included a comprehensive approach to community outreach, customer service and education that [...]

Announcing: Mighty Community Markets, presented by Jeanie Wells.
Comprehensive, accessible training for small grocery stores.