Lessons from our Co-operative's First Year

by Matt Port


Co-operatives have been around for hundreds of years, but it's only in recent times that they've really come into their own as a viable way of organising a business. In the last year, our first year as a co-operative, we’ve gone through a lot of changes and learned many valuable lessons. As we go into our 2nd year we want to take a moment to reflect on some of the key things we've learned, and our thoughts for the future.

A flat management structure lets us make the most of our team

It's been a challenging year, and our team has had to adapt to the new way of working. One of the most significant changes we made was implementing a flat management structure, with each of us managing and being managed by another member of the team. We quickly realised that the role of line management changes when it is no longer hierarchical, and it’s helped us to place a more significant focus on personal wellbeing, coaching and developing skills. Moving away from a more traditional management structure has also led to better communication between different roles, removing any idea that some opinions are less valuable than others and empowering each team member to take ownership over the work we do. As we continue to develop our organisational structure, we're excited to see how this will enable us to be even more productive in the future.

Democracy and efficiency are a balancing act

Along with a shift in management structure, the last year has also seen each of us take on the role of co-operative director. Handling new responsibilities and learning new skills has been a real eye-opener, and we're still figuring out the most efficient balance between direct democracy and giving everyone autonomy to get on with their jobs. We've had to work hard to make sure that we're providing support and guidance to the rest of the team while also allowing them the freedom to work independently, and we're constantly learning and evolving as we find the best way to work together to achieve our goals.

Centring our values drives us to be better

Finally, we've found that being able to truly be driven by our values has been a significant advantage. This year we’ve taken the time to work on our strategy and crystallise what really matters to us as an organisation. As a result, we’ve come into this year confident of the direction we want to go in, and clear on how all of our different values align to make a co-op that works for everyone. While we’re already seeing the impact of laying this foundation, we know we haven't got everything right yet, so we’re excited to keep growing into an organisation that prioritises and holds itself accountable to our shared values and mission.

Parting thoughts

It’s been a big year for Impact Box, with plenty of challenges and lots of learning. We're excited to see what the future holds, and are committed to learning and growing together. Moving forwards, we’ll be taking the lessons we’ve learned to continue building an organisation that prioritises and encourages member wellbeing, engagement and collaboration, all while delivering high quality, sustainable and impactful work to the for-good sector.

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Impact Box Cooperative Limited

Registered Company Number 13924647

Ⓒ Impact Box 2022