Celebrating National Co-op Month

All News

Celebrating Co-op Month

Matt Hanson, CEO

Influence. Who would have thought 10 years ago there would be individuals making millions of dollars influencing others through social media? Having two teenage children, I can see first-hand how this business model works. In today’s technologically advanced age, there is a constant connection to readily accessible information with a few taps of your fingers. The source and pace of this information can really have an impact on how we navigate life. 

To bring this topic into the cooperative world, how does influence affect the operation of your local electric cooperative? We all see and feel the vast technological and social changes that are impacting our daily life. These changes influence the actions we take and the decisions we make. Successfully navigating these changes can be difficult. That is where the cooperative business model can really outshine others. This element of success is a result of self-governance, a key component of the cooperative system.

Under this system, the governing body of the organization—in this case your Board of Directors--is elected by the members of the cooperative. This allows for cooperatives to be directed by the voice of the consumer, or member-owners. This can be a very tall order but is essential to operating a business you can trust.  This structure is covered by the second Cooperative Principle, Democratic Member Control. The result of this arrangement provides a system where employees are working directly for the membership. The process of self-governance is kept in check through appropriate policies, an engaged staff, and an educated Board of Directors that provides direction based on what is best for their fellow members, who they were elected to represent.

This simple yet effective model allows for the cooperative to pivot when needed, which is ever important with today’s pace of change. This is very advantageous when it comes to the evolving electric industry, navigating such items as growth, self-generation, and electrification. Operating as a self-governed business places a lot of responsibility on the elected Board of Directors, making sure the right policies are in place, and that the highest level of due diligence and transparency is respected by the employees of the cooperative.

There are so many influential factors today and organizations must make strategic choices to determine what they will allow to influence them. The self-governance of cooperatives allows for decision making based on members’ needs and ultimately what is best for the cooperative. This means that McKenzie Electric doesn’t make decisions based on what’s popular, trendy, or influential today; decisions are made based on what’s best for the membership, period. Where other business models may have other competing interests such as shareholders, subsidiaries, or employee’s own self-interest, the cooperative model ensures that employees are always prioritizing the member at the end of the line. This strategy also allows the direction to remain focused on the core business, providing electricity, minimizing additional risk factors, and providing a path for success for many generations to come.  

With October being Co-op month, I thought I would reflect on the importance of the cooperative model and the important work the elected leadership has in the overall direction of the organization. This work is based on your input and direction. There are several other reasons why the cooperative model is supreme, but the element of self-governance is a key piece of the foundation in the cooperative system. Trust that your cooperative is best positioned to navigate the uncharted path forward given the dynamic, influential world we are all part of today.

The beauty of cooperatives is that everyone has a voice. If you have suggestions or thoughts for your cooperative, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Board of Directors, or an employee at MEC. If you have any inquiries, you can contact McKenzie Electric’s Member Services Coordinator, Andrew Spratta via email (aspratta@mckenzieelectric.com), or by finding us on social media.