The act of describing a cooperative's most fundamental reasons for being creates what are termed “Ends statements” under Policy Governance®. A principal aspect of the Policy Governance approach is that the board should focus on defining the co-op’s Ends and on formulating policy that ensures progress toward those Ends. (For more on Policy Governance, see the wiki, http://cooperativegrocer.coop.tripark.net/node/2405.)
Following is a slightly longer description of Ends policies, by Mark Goehring, from his article, Taking Policy Governance to Heart” (linked below under Related Content):
“Cooperatives are clearly mission-driven organizations. Cooperatives exist to create a difference in the world, to provide a benefit and value on behalf of member owners. Ends describe this, in three parts:
“Desired outcomes. What difference are we expecting as a result of our co-ops? The preamble that I’ve found to be useful to get me into “outcome thinking” mode is:
“As a result of all we do, all the programs and activities of everyone involved in our co-op, we will have ___________ (fill in your expectation for desired outcomes).
“Recipients of the desired outcomes. Thinking about the intended desired outcomes, who is it that we name as the beneficiaries of those outcomes?
“Relative cost. There are various approaches to understanding this aspect of an Ends policy. My favorite: Is the outcome that we’re creating worth all the effort and resources it takes to deliver it?”
Following are additional articles and comments on Ends statements; each is linked below under Related Content:
“Measuring Ends, Telling Our Story,” by Michael Healy (2012) has good evidence of common themes found in food co-op Ends statements.
“Ends: Defining Your Cooperative Advantage,” by Linda Stier (2001), illustrates the benefits of Policy Governance that were realized at Weaver Street Market.
“Still Drinking Policy Governance Lite,” by Heather Schmidt Albinger (2008), describes how the Outpost Co-op board and manager have worked to refine ends policies.
Cooperative Board Leadership Development
Through its board of directors training as well as extensive online resources in its Cooperative Board Leadership Development (CBLD) program, the CDS Consulting Co-op has deepened food co-ops’ understanding of Policy Governance. At the CDS Consulting Co-op website, visit the CBLD Library, which has a wide variety of co-op governance resources available for download both as text and as online recorded workshops, including one on “De-Mystifying Ends” and a section on management reports: http://cdsconsulting.centraldesktop.com/cbld.
An article in Cooperative Grocer Monthly in 2014 gives some stories and examples of how to bring your ends to life in your co-op community. As the author Art Sherwood explains, "Here, I will walk you down this path through sharing the stories of how some of your fellow co-op leaders made this process, and therefore the Ends, come alive in their communities. Through this, I hope to illustrate the benefits of using such a process, including alignment around meaningful direction and actions, purposeful participation, healthier teaming relationships, effective empowerment and accountability, and ultimately having impact. You, too, can make this process come alive."
[See also related wiki pages under Board Governance.]