Co-op boards that use Policy Governance® write policies as a way to codify their agreements for how they will work together, how they will delegate responsibility to management, and what authority they will then actually delegate. Our CBLD team of consultants created this set of template policies based on what we saw does or doesn’t work for most food co-op boards, and we periodically revise these policies based on users’ feedback and experience. We have tried to strike a balance between those boards that want less detail in their policies and those that want more. Overall, we hope that this template is a useful tool for boards as they develop their own policies.
Tips for using this template:
- This template is provided for educational purposes and as an aid for your own policy development, revision or review work. As with any such template, these policies are not intended to be an absolute recommendation; they are a starting point and reference to guide for your own conversation. Each board is responsible for deciding if these policies make sense for them.
- This template is written with the assumption that the co-op’s member-owners have clearly given the board authority in the bylaws. These policies offer guidance for how a co-op board can appropriately make further, more detailed decisions beyond what the bylaws mandate.
- Many of the Board Process and Board-Management Relationship policies simply flesh out some details of the Policy Governance ® system, but a few of the policies in these sections are specific and will be different from board to board. As one example, note that the C4 policy specifies a particular agreement about decision-making. If your board uses a different process for making decisions, substitute your own agreement in place of what you find in the template.
- The board uses Executive Limitations policies to define which decisions are within the General Manager’s authority, and we have tried to present examples of limitations that can work well for a variety of boards and managers. Your board should make sure you understand which authority you have delegated to the GM and which you hold at the board level. As one example, note that the B1 template policy says that the board (not the GM) has the authority to take out loans.
- Each policy has a header that includes a “Last Revised” date. This should be the date of the meeting at which your board decided to adopt or revise the policy.
- Remember that the board’s policies make up one-half of an effective system for “accountable empowerment.” The GM’s monitoring reports are the other essential half. The GM Report Support section of the CDS CC Library contains examples of robust and useful monitoring reports.
You might want to use this template as a starting point when:
- You have just decided to use Policy Governance ® as your board’s operating system.
- You want to do a “complete overhaul” of your policies.
- You want examples of specific policy language to add to or replace a current policy
- You want a clearly written set of policies that were designed for food co-op boards
A suggested process for using this policy template:
- Make a board decision to begin this work.
- Use this template, rather than your current policies, as your starting point.
- Review the template one section at a time. Within each section, ask:
- Is there anything in this version that is “wrong” for our board?
- Is there anything in our existing policy that we need to bring into the new version?
- Is there anything we should change or add to ensure our policies are consistent with our bylaws?
- Ask your CBLD consultant for support, guidance and answers to your questions.
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