We're trialing a new steering group

By SHRUB Coop, posted 01/05/20

We have an important update to share about the future strategic direction of SHRUB Coop, and we're looking for members to take part in shaping our future.

What is it?

As a growing community-led social enterprise, SHRUB Coop needs a transparent, and effective decision-making process. As we’ve grown over the past two years, collective decision making has at times been difficult and slow.

To address this, we are trialing a steering group of members, volunteers, staff, and trustees to replace the Member’s Decision Making Meetings for 3 months. This group will oversee short to medium-term strategy for the organisation and contribute to day to day decision making.

You can read the full steering group proposal here.

Who will be part of the steering group?

The steering group will comprise of:

  • 4 Volunteers or paid members (usually chosen at the Annual General Meeting)
  • 3 Members of staff
  • 3 Trustees

Why are we trying this?

Over the last 2 years, SHRUB has grown significantly. But it’s decision-making structure hasn’t changed much.

With the size and scope of what we do, it’s become increasingly difficult to get effective decisions made quickly enough.

In particular, the following problems have been identified:

  • Lack of engagement within our current decision-making system (low attendance at Decision Making Meetings, few comments on proposals).
  • Lack of legitimate strategic development both long-term and short-term; currently, there is no long-term planning (except in funding applications) and short-term decisions largely made by staff or Trustees.
  • Lack of clarity in the roles and responsibilities of Trustees and staff, and a degree of overstretching in both.

How did we come to this decision?

For the past few months, the Governance and Policy working group have been closely analysing the patterns of our decision making and researching various different options. They have recommended a trial of a steering group of Members, Staff, and Trustees to address these issues and strengthen our decision making.

This governance model was first showcased at our AGM in November 2019, discussed at a members’ decision-making meeting on the 5th of March 2020, and was endorsed by the Trustees on the 20th of April 2020.

This is a 3-month trial and the results will be discussed at a General Meeting of Members in July before we commit to this model in the long term.

Are you interested in joining the steering group?

What does it involve?

This is an exciting opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way to the short and medium-term strategy of SHRUB Coop. You will be involved in decisions that will directly affect the activities and projects we offer and help us to improve them over time. At the moment, many of these short term decisions have been taken by the staff and trustees; by joining the steering group you will bring a very valued perspective from the membership.

The steering group will meet every 2 weeks, if you are unable to attend a session, you will be required to notify the group in advance. The time and location of these meetings will be agreed by members of the steering group to best accommodate everyone. Joining meetings remotely through Zoom is also possible.

You will need to attend an induction to be brought up to speed with the necessary information to help contribute to good and effective decision making. This will include SHRUB’s activities, the charity’s resources, and the current financial situation. You do not need to already have an in-depth understanding of these, and you will be aided by experienced staff and trustees in the group.

How do I join?

Firstly, you need to be an active member*, either paid or as a volunteer.

Email us at **hello@shrubcoop.org **to register your interest and let us know if you are a paid member or a volunteer member. If you’re a volunteer member, please let us know which working groups you’re part of (this is so that we can ensure there is representation across the coop).

We’ll invite everyone interested to an introductory session via Zoom on Wednesday 6th May at 12:00pm to 1:30pm.**

Attending the introductory session will not be considered a firm commitment. If you’re unsure whether you want to join the steering group but would just like to find out more, there is no harm in joining this session and changing your mind afterward.

If there are too many members interested in joining the steering group, we’ll decide on a fair selection process. There will also be other opportunities to join at a later date if you are unsuccessful this time.

*If you’re interested in joining the steering group, but your membership has expired recently and you’ve been unable to renew it due to our temporary closure, don’t worry. Get in touch and we will try to find a solution for you.

** If you are interested but unavailable to attend the introductory session, please let us know. Future meetings will be scheduled at a time that best suits everyone in the group, so don’t let this put you off.

SHRUB Coop is supported through a combination of grant funding and generous donations from our community. We’re grateful for all their support. Find out more about our grant funders by clicking on the logos above.