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Sharing the load
Involving others in the planning of the co-operative and forming working groups
As for any business, there is a lot of work to do in the early stages of creating a co-operative. It is important that work is distributed effectively and equitably amongst those with the ability, experience and time to do it.
If your co-operative is more than a small group of people, it will be difficult for every aspect and detail of the start-up to be decided in large meetings. This challenge is often addressed by creating smaller sub-groups, or working groups which focus their work on a particular aspect of the start-up such as finance or legal structure. There is often a core or “steering” group which oversees the whole start-up process. This core group also organises meetings of the whole co-operative or prospective membership in order to report back on progress and to continue the planning process. The core group also tends to co-ordinate and monitor the activity of the various sub-groups and in some cases is made up of representatives of each of the sub-groups. Very often the core group becomes the first governing body of whatever formal structure is created for the co-operative. However this phase is co-ordinated, it is important that people know where they and others fit into the process – clarity of roles is critical.
In all of this it is important that individuals do not take on too much work or responsibility. Sharing responsibility for tasks makes them more likely to be achieved and gives the group ownership of the results of the work.
What can you commit to achieving realistically as a group?
How can the start-up process be divided into different work areas?
Who is going to take responsibility for which area?
Do you need any help in this part of the process?