Transformative Visioning for Co-op Board & Management
Recently, members of the Kootenay Co-op management team and board of directors participated in a Visioning Workshop with two experienced facilitators from the Transformative Justice program at Selkirk College. The board was invited to participate in this process as a tool for bringing focus and purposeful visioning to the organization in this time of change, as we transition to a larger store.
On October 30 and November 6, the entire management team and two board directors began a visioning process led by facilitators Carolina Ribeiro de Almeida and Fernando Murray Loureiro. Over the course of two days, Carolina and Fernando led us through a sequence of well-defined stages, including biography (who we are), success stories (what have we achieved) and building agreements (how can we grow together) as well as a review of trends and scenarios affecting our growth and group visioning sessions on how best to face the opportunities ahead as a team.
These exercises inspired thought-provoking discussion and focus. In the words of the facilitators, the various steps were intended to “rescue from history what needs to be reaffirmed, restored and transformed to create a solid bridge to the future and a culture of peace. The Visioning Process through Transformative Justice is a highly effective way to integrate divergent perceptions, develop or share a plan, improve decision making, create development options and generate engagement for change.”
Jon Steinman, current Board President, had this to share: “The workshop was an invaluable chance to be able to step out of the ‘get-it-done’ frame-of-mind (which becomes more pronounced during times of transition) and step into the ‘why-are-we-doing-this’ and ‘who-are-we-doing-it-with’ frames-of-mind. From a board perspective, it was great to be with our management team for an extended period of time and bear witness to the amazing people stewarding the daily operations of our Co-op. I was reminded of how amazing of a job they’re all doing and I hope as members we take the time to offer our gratitude when we see them in the store or on the street.”
The Co-op’s Acting General Manager Paul Kelly added that the visioning workshop provided an opportunity for us to share the paths that led us to be collaborating today at our local food co-op, as well as the history and philosophy of the co-op as its own entity, on its own timeline.
“Fernando and Carolina helped bring into sharper focus what used to feel like a distant horizon,” he said. “We assessed our operating environment, and could really see how climate change and a petroleum-based economy have dramatically shaped our access to food and the price of that food, something we have felt particularly more this year than in the past.
“These, and other assessed opportunities and challenges provided context for our operational strategies going forward. We explored our common and individual visions for the new store and what we want it to feel like to members and employees, and examined the internal processes we need to improve to enable us to get natural and organic food to the shelf with greater ease.
“We also explored the effects and opportunities that are coming from an aging customer base – what this means for Nelson, for the Commons and for the Co-op. We reaffirmed our commitment to develop the new store with our membership in mind, while creating an economically sustainable, balanced and considerate employment environment for those working hard to make it all happen.”
As our co-op looks ahead to a year of continued transition and growth, taking this time to constructively consider how the store operates, what is working – and what is not – as well as visioning what will be needed in the future, is essential to our success. There is a deep sense of gratitude from the board members and staff who participated in the Visioning process. To be supported through the workshop by such skilled facilitators from an exceptional program in our own community was especially beneficial. Now we look forward to the work ahead as we take these tools and visions into our store – continuing to stay connected with our purpose and values as the largest member-owned retailer of healthy organic food in Canada.
-Elizabeth Babcock, Chair, Membership Outreach Committee
Workshop photos by Vincent Deslauriers