Monadnock Food Co-op board members frequently get asked by fellow Member-Owners and other co-op shoppers to explain, “What do you do as a board member of our co-op?” That question can be answered generally by checking out the board page on the co-op’s website. But there’s more to it!
It is the board’s responsibility to provide “guidance, strategic planning, and oversight for our co-op.” This happens at our monthly meetings during discussions of the General Manager’s monthly update and the board’s review of the GM’s policy monitoring reports. The board’s other agenda topics also include important updates about the proposed store expansion and consumer trends impacting our store.
Board effectiveness, though, also requires additional work including strategic planning, as well as extended conversations about our jobs as board members. Elected board members who are planning for the co-op’s future; making sure our financial picture is strong, and studying developments among other food co-ops. On March 16, 2019, the nine members of the board, plus our general manager, store manager, board administrator, and finance manager met for our annual all-day retreat. Marilyn Scholl, a consultant from CDS Co-op Consulting, who has worked with Monadnock Food Co-op since before we opened, facilitated our retreat. Our agenda included a review of our store expansion timeline; goals for future board work around the expansion; and strengthening alignment between board members and members-owners, our GM, as well as with the public.
We also talked at our retreat about diversity and inclusion, an important topic currently among food co-ops nationally. How does our store look to people who aren’t currently co-op shoppers? Are we a welcoming place to shop? How can we be a more welcoming co-op that “connects community,” as written in our Ends Statement? Several board members had participated in a workshop earlier this year about this topic entitled “Everyone Welcome.”
The goals for our 2019 retreat were to become more knowledgeable about these topics and to build understanding and alignment about the details of our proposed expansion as we prepare for final decision-making. Another goal was to continue the exploration of diversity and inclusion at our co-op. Finally, we continued the conversation about our board goals for the next 18 months.
Our retreat helped your co-op board and store management grow in alignment together. This was not a meeting to make decisions or evaluate specific performance, rather an opportunity to share more information and talk about our goals and plans for the coming year. Board and staff who attended felt like we are working successfully together in recognizing what we need to know, what we do well, the areas that we need more information about, and what we can do to improve and grow the success of our co-op.