Seward Co-op’s board uses Policy Governance, a detailed and comprehensive method that structures and organizes their work. This type of governance uses policies to guide the General Manager (GM) to progress towards stated goals (Ends) of the co-op while staying within established boundaries. Through reports from the General Manager, external reports, and the board’s internal monitoring, policies and goals are evaluated and updated regularly. The policies and Ends Statement serve as a guide for the General Manager and establish guidelines for the board’s evaluation of the GM’s performance.
Using Policy Governance helps ensure that the board does not involve itself in any areas of co-op operations, while ensuring that the business runs optimally. Through the Ends Statement, the board establishes the vision and goals that co-op management is to pursue and achieve. The GM decides how to achieve these Ends and presents the board with documentation showing that they have achieved them. The board then reviews the presented information, determining if the Ends have been met.
In addition to managing the General Manager through Policy Governance, the co-op’s board also embarks on study to garner a greater understanding of food co-ops and related industry issues, including exploration of the Food Bill and the politics behind it. Currently, the board is building an understanding of the cooperative business model and its place in our economy as a means to better guide the vision of Seward Co-op.