Motion 11: Members motion - Group Purpose


Since the AGM Pack was distributed to members the Members’ Council has agreed to withdraw this motion and has agreed the following statement:

Group Board Response The Board is recommending that you vote AGAINST this motion.

The Board wholly supports the principle set out in the Motion and is committed to involving members, primarily via the Council, in any future redefinition of the Purpose. However, the Board does not accept the explanation of the 2014 process or the proposed timetable for review of the Purpose as set out in the Motion.

The new Purpose of the Society is “Championing a better way of doing business, for you and your communities”. It was announced at the AGM in May 2014, and incorporated in the new Rules of the Society which were overwhelmingly approved by members in August 2014. The Purpose is driving the whole of the Group’s turnaround programme.

In developing the Purpose in 2014, the Board worked with the structure in place at the time which consisted of democratic representation at Board, Regional and Area Committee level. The process undertaken is explained below.

There are no plans to review the Group’s new Purpose. It underpins the Group’s Rebuild Programme and any restatement would disrupt and potentially derail our recovery.

Whilst wholeheartedly supporting the principle of involving members in any future review, the Board cannot support the proposal to commence work on a new Purpose at this critical point in its Rebuild programme.

The Group Board is therefore unable to support this motion on the grounds that:

the Group’s Purpose was re-defined in 2014 in conjunction with the democratically elected representatives of Individual Members and the nominated representatives of Independent Societies; the Group Purpose underpins the Group Strategy and Rebuild programme and has been widely communicated both internally and externally; any restatement of the Purpose would result in disruption to both the development and implementation of the Group Strategy during the critical Rebuild stage resulting in: the erosion of colleague confidence and engagement; and potential external reputational damage. The Board asks members to show its support for the Rebuild Programme and the work undertaken to date by voting AGAINST this Motion.

Background to development of the Group’s Purpose

In September 2013, the Group Executive and the Group Board commenced a co-creation exercise to redefine the Group Purpose. During this time, the Group Board consisted of the democratically elected representatives of Individual Members and the Chief Executives representatives of five of the largest Independent Societies.

The Group Board directed the development of the Group Purpose and subsequent strategy during six 1-2 day workshops between September 2013 and March 2014. Additional input was received from over 600 colleague members and 100 elected members through a series of workshops. In April 2014, the amended Group Purpose statement received the unanimous approval of the Group Board.

The re-defined Group Purpose was announced at the 2014 AGM and subsequently enshrined as the current expression of the Society’s Purpose in Rule 5.2 of the new Rules, which were overwhelmingly approved in August 2014. At the time of the Rules definition, it was intended that it would be many years before the Group Purpose was revisited. Nonetheless, Rule 5.2 states that another expression or expressions of the Purpose can be jointly recommended by the Board and the Council from time to time and approved by Members at a General Meeting. The Council’s motion does not take this prior consultation into account.

Since its announcement, the key tenets contained within the Group Purpose have received widespread affirmation from colleagues and individual members. The Group’s strategy has been developed with a focus on ensuring Purpose is embedded throughout the organisation. All of the Vital 5 and Winning 10 programmes are aligned to delivery of the Group Purpose. All Business Units are developing key propositional elements which will align with the Group Purpose. The Group’s Rebuild effort would need to go on hold if the Purpose was to be revisited. Additionally, the Group’s re-defined Purpose and the underlying principles contained within this have been shared widely externally as a key stage in bringing the Group out of crisis.

Members’ Council Response The Council is committed to constructive dialogue with the Board and Executive on the renewal of the Society and the role a statement of Purpose plays in expressing its Co-operative difference. Following a positive discussion with representatives of the Board, it has been agreed that in the short term the focus of dialogue with the Board and Executive should be on the translation and articulation of the current expression of the Society’s Purpose.

In particular, the Council looks forward to working with the Board and Executive to maximise the benefits of our distinct co-operative model to build excellence and give the Co-operative Group a unique advantage in the market place.

The Council looks forward to reviewing the Group Purpose during 2017 as we prepare to move from our current Rebuild phase into the Renewal phase in 2018. In doing so we look to work with the Board to ensure sufficient time is allowed to consult and plan.

The Council notes that the Society’s Rules provide the framework for the Council and the Board to be fully engaged in the development of any future expression of the Purpose, and for any future change to be approved by Members by Ordinary Resolution.

On the basis of the reassurances given by the Board to fully involve the Council in the on-going development of the Purpose and vision and in work to bring the current purpose to life, the Council has agreed to withdraw the motion.