Your co-op, March 2002

This article was originally published in March 2002

PCC Board activities

The primary topic at PCC’s Board of Trustees meeting January 29th was “ends” policies — the policy governance equivalent of a mission statement — and how to continue to develop them. A taskforce has been revising policies that set boundaries for management, to streamline language and bring these boundaries more in line with principles of policy governance.

What does policy governance mean to the average member or shopper? Read the accompanying article for details. As part of the process of ends policy development, the board is planning to work directly with members to see if PCC is on the right track. The board’s member linkage taskforce met early in February to learn more about how to “sound out” members on this topic.

The next board meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, 2002, at the PCC office. An opportunity for members and staff to address the board is scheduled, as always, at 7 p.m. Please note that the agenda for each board meeting is not firm until approximately one week before the meeting, and so is not available in time for publication of open session times in the Sound Consumer.

Please check the new Membership area of the website, for updated information on the next board meeting including the time of the meeting and more details on the agenda.

New payment options for members

For your convenience there are now several ways to make a payment toward your membership:

  • On-line: You can now make member payments on-line! Simply go to our convenient online membership payment form.
  • By phone: Call in a credit card payment to the office at 206-547-1222. Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • By mail: Send a check to the office at: PCC Member Records, 4201 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105.
  • In person: Pay at any of our stores. Just let the cashier know you’d like to make a membership payment. You must have your membership card with you to pay at the store. For questions regarding your membership, or to find out your balance, email us at, or call the PCC office at 206-547-1222.

PCC continues to develop policy governance model

What is policy governance?

It’s a structural model for how boards do business that the PCC board has been using since 1998. Policy governance remains a work in progress at PCC. John Carver, a consultant deeply involved in policy governance training, developed the original model. Policy governance is growing in popularity with cooperatives, credit unions and non-profits across the country.

No doubt it’s difficult to get excited when you read the words “policy governance,” but knowing a bit about it is helpful to understanding how PCC works.

Many co-ops, large and small, are using the policy governance model with great success. The reason policy governance is so popular among cooperatives is that it provides a way for cooperative boards to direct management effectively without requiring many business experts on the board.

We tend to think of PCC as an innovator in the cooperative world, since it is one of the largest and most successful co-ops in the country. PCC, though, is actually a latecomer to policy governance. We became seriously involved with it only after several other co-ops had taken the lead. Representatives of Food Front, Sevananda, and Weaver Street Market, for example, all have provided assistance to us in developing this model.

The heart of policy governance is simple — instructions to management from the board must be in written form. Board process also must be spelled out in writing. And policies are written beginning at the broadest level, working down the levels into greater detail as needed.

Two of the four policy categories delineate the board’s understanding of how it conducts board business. One is “board process”; the other is “board/CEO relations.” The other two categories of policy are the board’s directions to management. The first is “executive limitations.” These are the policies that set boundaries for management.

Within these boundaries, management has freedom to make choices. Those choices are instructed by the fourth category — “ends.” These are the results that an organization hopes to see, the difference it hopes to make in the community. Ends are never truly completed. It may seem fairly easy to describe all the results we’d like to see. Setting priorities among those results is difficult, though, given limited resources.

It’s important to understand that the policy governance model itself is a neutral tool. It is only as good or as useful as the people involved in it. If you are interested in learning more about policy governance, contact the board administrator at

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