Board Plans & Goals for 2010
By Dave Watson, Board Director
The Board of Directors of New Leaf Market held its annual planning retreat on Saturday, January 16, at the Loadstar Retreat (and farm) near Calvary, Georgia. The soothing background of lowing cows unfazed by a cold and constant rain proved conducive for the work at hand. Professional Facilitator Thane Joyal, a board trainer and consultant with Cooperative Development Services, helped put the Board through its paces.
The first order of business was to review the goals set at the 2009 planning retreat that will continue into this year. Among them are:
- Community outreach
- Improving the process for General Manager (GM) evaluation and compensation
- Re-energizing owner linkage
- Policy review and revision
- Improvement of the Board budgeting process
- Ends revision
Though they appear to be merely four concise statements that frame our objectives as a cooperative, the final revised Ends statements actually consumed a lot of brainpower and time. We now know better what we are creating through thinking about the Ends. Rewriting the Ends, that had served us since 2002, should create outcomes easier to measure in the GM’s report. In turn, this will lead to more effective monitoring of her report by the Board in order to confirm compliance.
Community outreach addresses how we fit into our local community and best address the needs of the community. One of our newer board members, Maria Cobian, chaired this new committee in 2009 and began with a focus on better reaching the Hispanic community. The Board has also been meeting with the Corridor Improvement Action Group to enhance the stretch of Lafayette Street behind New Leaf Market and westward.
The development of an improved GM compensation process continues in 2010 as we better define the evaluation criteria used to determine compensation for this vital position.
The pursuit of re-energizing owner linkage is ongoing because we are a cooperative. With 10,000 owner-members, there is always a big conversation to be had. This year, the Owner Linkage committee was expanded to include three subcommittees. Future Ends, Community Outreach, and Owner Outreach will all be chaired subcommittees of the Owner Linkage Committee, and will meet quarterly. As stated in our president’s report at the January board meeting, the Owner Linkage Committees, “will encompass the many aspects of understanding, guiding, and expressing the will of the owners [current and future].”
In 2009, board members committed time outside of regularly scheduled board meetings to revise policies under Policy Governance. This process of simplifying and making the language broader in scope will continue this year with a new goal of revising sections of policy one at a time and presenting this work to the Board. Board members Madelon Horwich and Jim Terrell have already begun the revision process, which will proceed with input from the entire Board when changes are proposed.
Once we had reviewed last year’s goals, set new goals for this year, and established the committees to conduct the Board’s work, the group turned to compiling a list of concerns, written on dozens of sticky notes that festooned much of the available wall space. Our concerns ranged from the economy and the banking industry, competition, the organic standards and consumer confidence in them, idealism versus practicality in our future visioning, entrepreneurships and other co-ops, community versus another store, and relevance of the co-op to future generations, to expanding our vision and cooperative education. As we broke down each of these concerns, we found that they were addressed in either our Ends statements, our vision/mission statements, or in the policies contained in our Policy Governance that are reported on annually.
We felt empowered that both this board, and future boards, have the tools to effectively govern and lead New Leaf Market despite our current set of concerns. And as ever, we upheld our greatest priority as a cooperative—to foster communication with our owners as we head into an uncertain, yet hopeful, future for New Leaf Market.