The board of the Three Rivers Food Co-op, in Fort Wayne, Ind., had been stalled by ineffective process. This dynamic had also contributed to a lack of enthusiasm for governing the co-op, and retaining board members was a challenge. When Julie Carrier joined the board two years ago, she noticed that there was a lot of discussion, “we talked each other to death,” she said, but basic governance tasks went undone.
In 2010, the board enrolled in the CBLD program and worked with Joel Kopischke to put the board on track for rapid improvement. Using manyCBLD templates for board agendas, policies and general manager monitoring reports, the co-op’s board is getting things accomplished and morale has also spiked.
“The agendas we had were vague, and we got monitoring reports, but it didn’t feel like the right data,” said Carrier, now board president. “Since I was brand new, I wanted to embrace everything CBLD and Joel had to offer.” Carrier was grateful to have such important resources for improvement at her fingertips, and she felt like she didn’t have to figure everything out on her own. “We knew we should update our policies and adopt best-practices. Everything they offered was helpful.”
Now she reports that people on the board are “enthused” and “prepared.” But their work has already had a far-reaching effect on the co-op. “There’s a growing awareness that the board is engaged. It makes everybody more upbeat,” she said. The positive attitude is making a difference throughout the organization to the community. “One thing I’ve noticed is that more people are joining the co-op.” As they instituted better governance systems and updated policies, Carrier said, planning for the future is a much more exciting endeavor.