Expansion Projects Require Great Internal Communication: Before, During and After


As a co-op prepares for an expansion project, clear and effective communication within the co-op is essential for building alignment and commitment.  Here’s the short version: Have a plan. Work the plan. Evaluate the plan and revise as needed. Read on as the CDS Consulting Co-op Expansion team fills in some of the details.

What kinds of communication will be needed?

  •  Information about the outcomes of the project and how it relates to the long-term vision for the co-op
  • The steps and stages to an expansion project and where your co-op is at in the process:
    • Assessing Feasibility
    • Preparing for Construction
    • Construction
    • Preparing for Opening
  • Image-building and visual communication throughout the process. Help people “see” the possibilities.
  • How the expansion will address current issues and problems

With whom do we need to be building strong communication systems?

  • Board and management
  • Management and staff
  • The co-op and its owners
  • Outside support and contracts with consultants, designers, contractors, city officials, project managers

How can we ensure effective communication?

  • Have a designated point person who is in charge of communicating between the different groups, like board to GM, GM to staff, GM to general contractor and design team, co-op to community, etc.  Ensure that everyone knows who the point people are.
  • Have alignment on goals ahead of time so you have a point of reference record.
  • Develop branding guidelines to ensure all outward communication is branded consistently and cohesively.
  • Ensure continual feedback loops are in place between customers and staff, staff and management, between management and project manager and/or general contractors and designers, and between GM and board.

How to manage delicate balance between maintaining confidentiality and being transparent?

  • It is most important to be transparent about:
    • The process of expansion planning and progress,
    • The roles of each person or group within the process,
    • The image and outreach goals of the co-op to reach new populations of the community.
    • It is most important to maintain confidentiality where appropriate, including:
      • Business competition
      • Personnel decisions
      • Real estate matters
    • In a co-op expansion project, it is especially important to agree on the process of complete confidentiality, especially in the Feasibility Stage (related to real estate issues) and until the co-op has the new site under control with a lease agreement, purchase agreement or option agreement, contingent, of course, on getting full financing in place.  It will require having and following a code of conduct for the leaders of the co-op.

Now you will be ready to enjoy opening day with everyone committed and aligned because they understand the plan.




Grab and Go Solutions is a resource from CDS Consulting Co-op to provide easy to implement solutions to common issues facing food co-ops. Watch for future releases tackling a wide variety of topics including HR, governance,  member engagement, safety, store and growth.
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By |April 9th, 2015|Categories: Articles, Grab & Go, Solutions|Tags: |

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