We had a big crisis to overcome in January, and thanks to the amazing community around Black Star, the workers and member-owners we were able to save our brew-pub. This was an outstanding achievement, but it also highlighted a few parts of the business that weren’t working as well as we had thought they would. One component that stood out in multiple conversations at Board meetings, discussions with the WA, and during our January discussion was that our Ends policies were so specific and proscriptive that they didn’t allow the WA the latitude in decision making required to achieve our goals and run a great business.
Ok Marcus I get it, but how does changing the Ends really fix anything? To understand that requires getting your hands a little bit dirty in the world of policy governance. Policy is how the Black Star board lays out goals and rules for operations. Every decision and action taken has its roots in a regularly monitored policy. The body of governing policies is called the Policy Register and the Ends are the goals of the co-op, found at the start of the Policy Register in section A. Since the Ends are in the register they get monitored and are things that we as a co-op hold the WA accountable to. Removing the specifics and being more aspirational will grant the WA and the co-op greater flexibility in responding to the dynamic competing demands of operation a brew-pub. This would also remove competing long term goals that were tied to specific actions and replace them with an overarching vision of the world our cooperative helps create.
The Board recently created an Ends Committee composed of two Directors and two Member Owners. We researched industry best practices for writing Ends.Using input from the January Member Forum, and a Board Retreat to distill what our Ends are into a much easier digested message. The overarching theme is simple as it is on our shirts Eat, Drink, Cooperate. Instead of a multiple page document heavy with details we are proposing the Ends be changed to something similar to to “Black Star Co-op is a community-owned brewpub that welcomes all people to the table with inspired craft beer, and contributes to a world with a just society, a thriving cooperative community and a resilient local food system.” We are having a Q & A with the Ends Committee on Tuesday May 9th at the pub from 7-8. Come to ask questions or give feedback and help us create the version to be shared with owners at the next Member Assembly meeting. The plan is to have a new Ends Policy on the ballot with Board elections in the fall. We look forward to having a robust conversation with you about the future of our cooperative!