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CWCF Good Governance May 19, 2010 Tele-learning Session Summary

Please see the notes and PowerPoint presentation below. The MP3 recording can be accessed at http://www.divshare.com/download/11713917-e2c (80 minutes).

“Governance” means: the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented) United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Human Settlements, What is Good Governance.

“Governance is the task of defining the goals and standards of an organization and ensuring that there are effective management and other structures that will enable the organization to achieve these goals and standards”, Code of governance for housing co-operatives: Confederation of Co-operative Housing, February 2001.

Excerpt:
Presenter: Reba Plummer, Urbane Cycling:

I will be presenting on Urbane Cycling’s experience on governance issues. Going to the CWCF annual conference has helped because you get to meet other worker co-ops and find out how they deal with governance issues.

We are a bicycle shop in downtown Toronto. We started with 3 or 4 members. One person was the leader business wise, even invested the capital. This founder passed away. Members found they became overburdened. Spent too much time on day-to-day issues. We had no business or strategic plan. Felt we were drifting along.

We now have 28 staff, most are seasonal. To attract more members we reduced our membership fee from $5,000 to $2,500 and the probationary period to one year. Now we have a membership payment plan. Now have 9 members and are looking to add more in the future. We still have to get on the same page, but how do we do this while working full time? To address this we agreed to give up a Sunday for a visioning session and hired a facilitator. Through this session a vision was created and priorities were established and started to work on who was in charge of what. The result afterward was that all 9 members were on board.

We came up with our meeting norms. For example, we have to have meetings when the shop closes. Since some members have been in the bike shop since first thing in the morning, we have to respect their time and be ready to start the meeting. The expectations are that members have to come to meetings prepared, they start on time, stay on time and stay on topic.

We also picked a date for the AGM. There we will continue to work on our decision making process. We have a bylaw template to start from. Need to clarify what do board, management and workers do? Roles need to be clarified. The challenge is to implement theoretical models into the day-to-day workings of our worker co-op. Is hoping that the members will vote in the managers. Want all members to be involved in strategic planning.

Participant question: What is your management structure? Reba: Have retail, parts, and service departments. Have a manager in each department, each of whom have been long term members. Had some problems with new members acting like they were managers. The General Manager oversees the whole business. In the process of trying to set firmer goals with deadlines and reports. Haven’t had to hold people accountable yet. Have to add new members based on job performance, not personalty. Currently working on a decision making process on how to adopt new members.