Winter is always a slower season.  At the co-op, we use it as an opportunity to focus inward. We reflect on our past efforts and look for ways to improve.  Each year, our Board of Directors engages in a day-long retreat with Ben Sandel, our consultant at CDS Consulting Co-op.  CDS Consulting is a co-op of consultants dedicated to guiding cooperative grocery stores through the startup process.

This year, our retreat focused on the transition we face as we near our site selection.  Once the site is chosen, a fundraising capital campaign will begin and a General Manager will be hired, all within a few short months. If that sounds like a mouthful, it’s because it is. There has never been any doubt that there is a lot of work ahead of us. We are a small group of dedicated volunteers who work countless hours to keep this process moving forward.

However, we cannot do it all on our own. We recognize the need to delegate some of that workload to other volunteers, possibly in the form of committees. How do we make that transition? How do we find the right balance between burnout and success? That is where our fantastic consultant lends his expertise. Ben led our Board through several eye-opening discussions that shed light on where we need help, how we can proactively organize the workload and better educate incoming volunteers to create a more cohesive team environment.

At some point, all this work will be handed over to the store’s General Manager and his or her operations team. The strong foundation we create now will ensure a smooth transition. It is easy to get lost in the minutia of day to day work and sometimes we lose sight of the big picture. It is always important to be able to take a step back and re-orient ourselves to our mission and our goals. For us, that opportunity is our annual retreat. It is an invigorating process that energizes the board and prepares them for the upcoming year.

Are you ready to see what 2017 is going to bring?  We certainly are!