The Benefits of a Fresh Perspective
Sometimes it is true that “you can’t see the forest for the trees.”
Co-ops in the midst of daily operations can find themselves busy with details, but unsure whether they are grasping the big picture of their business. A very useful tool to regain perspective is a review of the cooperative’s business and management systems.
NWCDC reviews enabled cooperatives to take a step back and evaluate their businesses from four dimensions:
- Management systems,
- Marketing and
Here are some examples of how cooperatives used the information from their reviews:
A struggling cooperative revisited its mission and business purpose and took action to rebuild its membership and financial standing.
An established marketing cooperative confirmed its sound operations and the Board reaffirmed its confidence in the co-op’s management.
A growing worker-owned cooperative saw their concerns turned into a schedule of actions so they could keep moving forward.
A producer-owned cooperative acknowledged its changing markets and acted to address those changes.
The reviews are structured as an intense week-long study of a business’ operations and involve analysis, onsite observation, and interviews.
The interviews help identify common themes in the business operations. NWCDC staff interview key business personnel, members/owners, and stakeholders such as suppliers, accounting services, and community leaders.
NWCDC also conducts detailed investigation into the financial condition, record keeping, and legal documents of the business. The onsite review culminates with a verbal report to the Board and management at evaluation week’s end, followed by a written report later, both confidential to the clients.
The review methodology is broad enough to include the four dimensions of operations, management systems, marketing and financial, while flexible enough to take into account each cooperative’s situation and line of business. For each review, NWCDC assembles a team with specific expertise to conduct not only the review but also provide future assistance.