The purpose of the Weavers Way Board is to govern and guide the Co-op on behalf of the member-owners. Responsible and constructive oversight has a critical impact on the vitality of the Co-op.
The Board emphasizes broad goals (Ends) while providing clear guidelines on what Co-op management cannot do (Executive Limitations). The Board Policy Manual provides written guidance in four important areas:
- Weavers Way’s Ends or long-term goals.
- The Board-General Manager Relationship: Delegates operational authority to the general manager, describes GM accountability and explains how the Board fulfills its fiduciary responsibility by monitoring progress towards Ends and compliance with policies.
- Executive Limitations: The Limitations stipulate that the general manager is authorized to use any means he or she chooses to achieve the prescribed ends except what is explicitly excluded. (For example, illegal actions or financial approaches that would threaten the Co-op.)
- The Board’s Governance Process: Specifies governing methods, roles for the Board president and board directors, agenda planning, directors’ code of conduct and more.
The Weavers Way Board uses the Policy Governance model to structure their activities and dictate how they relate to the general manager and the member-owners.
Policy Governance was developed by John Carver, a writer who has published extensively on board governance. Many food co-ops have moved to this system, as it allows us to balance representing member-owner views with allowing the store professional staff to fulfill member-owner requirements without micromanagement.
Our governing style emphasizes strategic leadership and a clear distinction between Board and management duties. The Board focuses primarily on intended long-term impacts rather than the operational means of attaining them. To accomplish this, the Board directs, controls and inspires the organization through the establishment of the broadest organizational values and policies. When we receive input, questions or concerns that relate to Co-op operations, we ask that the general manager respond.
Honesty, openness, and member input — these are key cooperative values and principles that guide the Board.
Board leadership requires, above all, that the Board provide vision. To do so, the Board must first have an adequate vision of its own job. That role is best conceived neither as volunteer-helper nor as watchdog, but as trustee-owner. Policy Governance is an approach to the job of governing that emphasizes values, vision, empowerment of both Board and staff, and the strategic ability to lead.
The Board encourages other member-owners to run for the Board, especially those who:
- Are visionary — who can see past the way things are now, and see what might be.
- Are conceptual thinkers — who have the ability to see issues in their proper context; to see which principles an issue or event falls under.
- Grasp the big picture — who are adept at putting each issue into a perspective guided by a larger view.
- Are connected to the ownership — who are committed to seeking out, listening to, and learning from members’ ideas, opinions and values and principles regarding Weavers Way.
- Demonstrate moral courage — who are willing and able to stand up and speak out even when it is uncomfortable.
- Can work in a group — who are capable of working through differences, and respect diverse points of view; can allow others to lead; and can accept responsibility and delegate authority.
The Board is continually assessing the relevance of its policies and how effective they are at achieving the goals of the Co-op.