Update: Finalized Governance Documents

One of our strengths is that we adhere to the Seven Cooperative Principles and Number 2 is Democratic Member Control.

So how does that work?

Being an Owner means you have a voice, and a vote. You vote your Board directors into office and they hire and oversee our General Manager on your behalf. The GM then hires and oversees all the store staff.

And the Board needs tools with which to govern the General Manager. For us, that's a method called Policy Governance developed by John Carver. We create a governance document, called the Policy Register, that contains two key elements:

  • Ends — These are short statements about the overall goals of the Co-op. What do we Owners want our store to be and to accomplish? This gets captured in the Ends statements and guides our GM. (If you've shopped other co-ops you'll know the Ends are often proudly displayed in the store.)

  • Executive Limitations — These are the guardrails within which the GM must operate. They are framed with negative, "thou shalt not" language as they are "limitations". 

So essentially the Policy Register is the operating manual for the General Manager and for how the Board oversees them. It does not prescribe how to run a store in any great detail, because they are the operations experts. Instead it says, "Here are the goals and dreams of our Owners (the Ends) and while you're pursuing them, or even exceeding them, do not drive off the road by breaking with the guardrails we've set (the Executive Limitations)."

How did ours come to life?

In Chicago Market's early years, we literally collected Owner thoughts on large pieces of paper on the walls at events. Then we had conversations with Owners and collected their thoughts via email outreach from them. A very clear picture formed over time about what our Ends should truly be. We're very proud to share them with you. They are YOURS. (see below)

We've had a draft version of our Policy Register up on our website for some time, but bringing Dan Arnett on meant it was time to finish it. First the Board went over it to make updates, especially editing the Ends. Then we shared it with Dan to get his feedback. He has extensive background in governance, from both the board and manager side, so it was invaluable to consider his input. We made edits, reviewed, and on February 9, 2022 we voted to adopt this version! It was a momentous moment for our Co-op.

The full 
Policy Register is here (which you can always find from the Governance link on your website). The Board and GM will review it periodically and perhaps make updates, but only carefully and deliberately.

And remember, the on-ramp to our fully employing the Policy Register in overseeing Dan involves use of our Mission Transition Plan, described here

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