What’s impressed me most, while researching the topic of transitioning co-ops to be prepared for growth, is how important it is to bring all stakeholders along through all the steps. You can have all the organizational charts and timelines you want, but you still have to find ways to include others, be positive through challenges, and create working systems that bring out everyone’s unique talents on behalf of the business. As consultant Melanie Reid said, it’s why so many people are attracted to working at co-ops. They care about people first and emphasize teamwork.

It’s this atmosphere of generosity that seems to permeate the buildings and radiate goodwill, continually attracting new people to co-ops. It’s what Jacqueline Hannah learned during Common Ground’s recent expansion. If you ask people to participate in building something together, they will usually exceed your expectations. If you want the secret to exponential growth, that’s it in a nutshell.

Everyday something real is happening in our communities because of cooperation. Connection to good food. Positive workplaces. Support for farmers. Sustainability. Attention to the environment. When co-ops manage their internal transitions for growth well, the world is truly transformed.

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