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    • #8017
      Jen BudneyJen Budney
      Participant

      Hi everyone, let’s try to use this thread to discuss the following questions based on the case study of FCL:

      Should member co-ops be granted more autonomy over decision-making to help them navigate their own path through the economic downturn?

      If so, what decision-making powers should be given to individual co-operatives? Should they be able to control their own marketing and wholesale purchasing? How would this affect FCL and the other member co-ops?

      If not, what decisions should be transferred to FCL? Should FCL be able to control the marketing and wholesale purchasing for the system? How would this affect FCL and the other member co-ops?

      What message would you deliver to the other board members and local co-op boards?

      How would you sell your vision for saving co-operative retailing in western Canada?

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    • #8051
      Mary NirlungayukMary Nirlungayuk
      Participant

      Yes, Members can have autonomy and rightly so however Members too are very good a supporting each other plus FCL,in the area of marketing aspect Co-op can use the same brand of or ads however be able to customised or tailor it to the community they serve. It doesn’t need to affect FCL if they do it right.

      FCL can make the decision however consult with it members is important, its shouldn’t affect FCL too much as long as they communication the plans to the members.

      Message to the board, and local board. FCL is working on a marketing plan and will consult with the members on the plans and would like your support in this plan.

      We can save money by centralizing the marketing plans as their are 200+ retailing system across the Western Canada we can have consistent message.

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    • #8053
      Walter PreugschasWalter Preugschas
      Participant

      My vision would not be a predetermined one; only that “we are stronger together”. The rest has to be worked on together. Fcl must figure out a way to get real input from each member Co-op so that the future vision can be figured out jointly and so that concerns that each co-op has will be addressed while going forward. Input and real involvement is key to getting co-ops on side. There need to be some areas of flexibility such as buying some local products and having local promotions.n the way forward.

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    • #8054
      Jen BudneyJen Budney
      Participant

      Thank you Mary and Walter. I think you both make very good points. Along with listening well and communicating well, it seems to me that to build consensus amongst the CSR, FCL’s job is also to help shape a shared vision for all the members. What happens if every member in the federation has a different vision of the future and how co-ops should plan to meet that future? We’ll explore this a bit more in the course in a little while.

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    • #8055
      Jen BudneyJen Budney
      Participant

      Thank you Mary and Walter. I think you both make very good points. Along with listening well and communicating well, it seems to me that to build consensus amongst the CSR, FCL’s job is also to help shape a shared vision for all the members. What happens if every member in the federation has a different vision of the future and how co-ops should plan to meet that future? We’ll explore this a bit more in the course in a little while.

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    • #8070
      Janet TaylorJanet Taylor
      Participant

      In the vein of what we learned in this module I think that FCL needs to establish their authority in order to bring the co-ops together. Finding a common ground that would appeal to the majority of the co-ops to start a conversation would put FCL in that position of authority. From there they could guide the conversation between their member co-ops in order to create a plan with input so that the co-ops don’t feel they have lost their autonomy. Regular communication on progress towards the plan will help keep everyone moving in the same direction. Using success stories from the member co-ops themselves could create a norms-based enforcement using “peer pressure” to encourage good behaviour leading to positive outcomes for everyone.

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    • #8083
      Jan O’BrienJan O’Brien
      Participant

      The points made by the previous writers emphasize providing the individual coops with an opportunity to gain from working together. This is achieved by building trust. As suggested, this can be best achieved by having the retail coops participate in the marketing plan. They need to play a part in establishing the “rules” i.e. the marketing plan. Enforcing the plan by the group is also crucial and in the circumstances more difficult to achieve. An incentive such as better pricing if you take part in the branding may be effective.

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    • #8107
      Carol RipleyCarol Ripley
      Participant

      I agree that involvement and an opportunity to express their opinions is key to getting their support when decisions are made. If FCL are credible, and clearly and consistently communicate the decisions they make are based on input received from all of the coops, then everyone will be more inclined to accept the results. If the coops truly believe their voices are being heard and considered, and they had input into the final decisions or ‘rules’, then they will be more likely support and enforce the rules settled on. Clearly FCL must demonstrate why it will be in everyone’s best interests to work together for the greater good of the system.

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    • #8146
      John KortramJohn Kortram
      Participant

      It might sound controversial, but in my opinion a cooperative can only work well if members are prepared to surrender (some of) their autonomy (NOT! Their engagement, input or voice) and have their centralized body set direction and take decisions. Within the format of their governance framework there has to be the mechanism to ensure democratic voting provides the required endorsement and support. Assuming the right resources, quality and competencies are available to the cooperative, it is logic to assume they are in the best position to take/recommend strategically sound decisions that are best for the whole. I believe this is the essence of the existence of the cooperative anyway, that individual members believed they would be better served through a cooperation than on their own.
      Areas that I typically see as suited for FCL are the somewhat longer term and strategic matters, when larger investments of resources are required than one member would be able to generate, where accumulation of bundled expertise comes into play and where scale matters.
      Obviously, members need a clear story with explicit statements about the rationale. They should be provided the opportunity to provide their input and FCL should be willing to commit to an SLA type contract for their short and mid term performance deliverables.
      It looks like the cooperative has arrived a critical stage with a turning point ahead.

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    • #8161
      Jen BudneyJen Budney
      Participant

      Great comments, everyone, thank you so much. John, I take your point. Over the last year I have done a number of interviews with executives at 2nd-tier co-ops and I’ve come to learn that successful co-ordination of member co-ops must be done through very artful persuasion at times. You are right – co-ops must give up some level of autonomy to be part of a federation. But those working for the federation must be very careful in how they implement that co-ordination — those who do this successfully seem to have mastered the art of listening sincerely and being utterly transparent, but also bringing members around to seeing things the “right” way, so that the members come to understand the strategies as their own ideas (even if the person doing the coordinating had some version of that idea all along). It’s not an easy job!

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    • #8236
      Jim RossJim Ross
      Participant

      John and Jen
      I am not sure that autonomy, or not, is necessarily the more important issue but the question does FLC offer the coops a superior basket of services to compel them to cooperate. Do they need to be persuaded?
      Yes, I agree, FLC needs to Supply the local coops with business skills such as enterprise risk management may have prevented the coops from being over leveraged.
      An understanding of customer value proposition would have given the local coop the tools to understand customer needs.
      Even in western Canada the farm service center needs to respond to fairy diverse regional markets.
      The owner of the local NAPA franchise has done an amazing job in understanding and catering to the farmers needs and I guess that’s why the coop in the same town closed. Couldn’t compete!

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    • #8237
      Ward WeisenselWard Weisensel
      Participant

      Overall, giving more autonomy to local coops to manage the downturn would be counterproductive as they would be giving up the economies of scale associated with the buying power of the larger cooperative wholesaler. In addition, the corporate services provided by FCL does lower the overhead costs of all retails. The challenge for FCL is really engaging individual coops in devising the overall recovery plan as listening and responding is important to getting the buy-in that is needed.

      Individual coops need to understand that FCL will not necessarily be the cheapest option on every single product and this cannot be a measure of success of the wholesaler. However, FCL has to be transparent enough to show that the CRS is stronger working together than going off as a bunch of individuals.

      Getting on the same page is critical. A key way to manage this is ensuring that relationships between FCL and member coops is strong and building through the good times so that these relationships can be relied upon to get the system through the bad times. We can never overlook that we have to always be building trust. The investment will always pay off as it provides the legitimacy when it is required most.

      There is no question that we are stronger working together. But as this section articulates well, individual interests can swamp rational decision making when trust and therefore legitimacy are weakened.

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    • #8301
      Cheryl WallaceCheryl Wallace
      Participant

      This can be a challenging issue. Centralized vs decentralized each has it’s own benefits and considerations. I have seen this type of scenario in many organizations / industries. I was with our local health authority when it when from 16 small health boards to one. I was also on the board /employee of the YMCA which has a federated model but local YMCA’s had the ability to have autonomy to deliver programs that are most applicable to the local communities. Similarly cooperatives can truly benefit from economies of scale and scope through a centralized system without losing their autonomy. As many have mentioned above the consultation has to be there but also the trust that the FLC will make decisions in the best interest of the greater good of the smaller cooperatives. The smaller cooperatives may not have the infrastructure and expertise to deal with complex issues that affect the entire industry. FCL will need to clearly communicate and consult to ensure they are taking into account challenges of local coop’s.

      Some of this consultation can be done in a number of different ways. As we do at our local CU’s we have boards that should be representative of the membership that can speak to the greater good. There will always be some that disagree which you have to have sound logic with your decisions to ensure you can justify them.

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