As folks who read last issue’s board report know, in June the Co-op Board of Directors spent two days together thinking about the future. This event grew out of a feeling that we never seemed to have enough time at our regular meetings to think deeply about the big questions facing us as an organization, such as “What exactly are we trying to accomplish here?” and “How can we best allocate our resources to accomplish it?” We have the mission statement that lays out the purposes of the Co-op, but it doesn’t always provide clear guidance in particular situations. So, we embarked on a process of identifying and prioritizing specific goals and thinking about concrete ways to achieve them.
Among other things, we ruminated on the input received from members and staff during the “Co-op Conversation” (thanks to all who participated!), added in some of our own ideas, and produced a long list of goals that a lot of people feel strongly about. Reflecting on them, we realized that many of them fit together under certain “umbrella” headings. Over the last few months, with further input from staff, we have distilled the list into three “strategic priorities” and seven “supporting goals.” We see the supporting goals as intermediate steps, things that will help us to realize the three main strategic priorities.
We hope that these will serve to point the way over the course of the next decade or two, giving the Board and staff guidelines as we create budgets and make the day to day decisions allocating our finite resources.
A few words about what this list is not: it is not a list of deficiencies or “areas for improvement.” While we could certainly do some of these things better, many of them are things that the Co-op is already doing and doing well. The list is also not set in stone. There will always be room for improvement, and no matter how hard we peer into it, the future never fails to keep some surprises for us. Instead, this list is intended to give us a common set of questions as a starting point for considering particular proposals or choosing among many possible courses of action in a particular situation. Ultimately, we hope it will lead to greater alignment of action with vision between and among the staff, the Board, and the entire membership.
The STRATEGIC PRIORITIES are…. (drumroll please)……
- The Olympia Food Co-op will expand its retail space in order to increase revenue so that we may continue to carry out our broader purpose, as described in our bylaws. To this end, we will create user friendly and accessible shopping spaces that satisfy current customers and attract new members.
- The Co-op will use its resources to meet community needs in the spheres of food systems and the local economy.
- The Co-op will spread knowledge and skills on mission related topics in order to empower and improve our community.
THE SEVEN SUPPORTING GOALS
1.The Co-op Board and Board committees’ work will serve the strategic plan and overall mission.
2. Board and staff will understand their different spheres of decision making; they will support and be accountable to each other.
3. The Co-op will improve internal and external communication to create alignment and increase our effectiveness in meeting our mission. We will respond to customer and member needs and communicate how we are doing so.
4. The Co-op will determine which legal structure accurately reflects who we are and our future needs and, if necessary, make a change.
5. The Co-op will improve our volunteer systems in order to: have enough volunteers to keep the Co-op functioning and growing; keep volunteers excited about their work and staff excited about working with them; increase information sharing and solidarity among volunteers.
6. The Co-op will work with under represented communities to co create opportunities to “foster a socially and economically egalitarian society.”
7. To support the longevity and healthy functioning of the staff collective, the Co-op will explore and create systems to support staff participation within the collective and the Co-op as a whole.
By Jayne Kazynski, staff member