Formal Planning Returns
Happy New Year, everyone! Welcome to our first newsletter of 2023. By the time we get to our last of the year, we will have watched the progress on our brand new building in Eau Claire, reported on an ever-growing staff, celebrated more food than ever before being delivered from local farmers and producers, and captured photographs of your smiling faces at our grand opening in Eau Claire. How exciting!
This time of year is often a time of reflection and looking forward; who do you want to be moving forward? How do you want to grow? What do you want to accomplish and how will you get there? In our personal lives as well as at the co-op, goal-setting and planning is key to our success. The pandemic was a disruptor of just about everything, and that was no different at Menomonie Market Food Co-op. For many years, we had an annual planning cycle that included the Board of Directors edifying and recommitting to our Ends Statement, and the staff making those lofty goals operational with the creation of a Five Year Vision and an annual business plan. That plan included tactics and timelines for what we were to accomplish in the coming year and predictions of how that would affect our finances. We made big plans and small, and we had a guide that kept us focused.
When COVID-19 hit, it was very difficult to plan even a week in advance at times. We learned to pivot, change our goals, and adjust our tactics both to adapt to what the pandemic brought us, but also to accommodate our growing relationship with our sister store, Just Local Food Co-op. So for the last three years, we have operated under rolling 13-week financial budgets and on-the-fly planning. In the last two years, first our merger plan and then our expansion plan has moved us back into more formal planning. The Board of Directors has modified our Ends to accommodate the culture and history of both co-ops, and the Development Team, made up of myself and several department managers, will be holding a retreat to formalize the planning necessary to navigate this big year.
Easing back into more formal planning is exciting to some members of our team and feels onerous to others, and that’s why I think it’s so powerful; it brings our diverse energies of thinking, creativity, and strategy together.
Currently, our expansion planning has us opening our doors in the new Eau Claire location in the fall of 2023. That’s coming up fast! We will work backward from that timeline for all kinds of internal projects, from staffing and training plans to kitchen and vendor plans to promotional and merchandising plans. When I think back on the chaos of the last three years, I’m filled with gratitude for the way the staff at the co-op handled it. It was very difficult to roll without a plan for some more than others, but it was an opportunity for people to make their needs known and find places of comfort in a sea of ambiguity. We increased our communication, and we innovated quickly. Staff at both stores have accomplished so much, and they have put us in a position to accomplish a lot more in the way of cooperation, food, security, and community for years to come. These stores are filled with amazing people.
This article was originally published in the January/February 2023 issue of our bi-monthly newsletter, The Morsel. If you’d like to read more stories like this one and stay up to date on the latest co-op news and events, pick up a print copy in-store on your next grocery run or find more news on our website here.