Whatever our feelings may be, training and learning are key aspects of any co-operative enterprise: remember, in the absence of a legal definition of what constitutes a co-operative business in the UK we rely on being identified by our values and principles which include:
- Principle 5, A commitment to the education, training of members and workers.
There is a solution which also neatly fits with another of our defining characteristics:
- Principle 6 Co-operation between Co-operatives - We should work together at local, regional, national and international levels to achieve our aims.
So how do we look outside of ourselves to source training?
We've an internationally recognised College that specialises in co-operative learning, most relevant for small and medium co-operatives at the moment is a practical work-based learning scheme.
We have numerous networks (both local, regional and on-line). Many co-operatives informally support each other from phone calls, and visits to staff swaps. We now also have tools to allow us to measure our performance against our defining values and principles (CESPIs) so can even more easily identify who we might want to approach to ask for some ideas...
Above all – remember learning doesn't have to be a stuffy formal classroom affair: it can be done as a shared activity with other co-ops, be as simple as reading and article or listening to a podcast, or even spending time down the pub with other co-op members.
What's stopping you?
What is stopping us from learning together, post your challenges here, or on our facebook group and lets see what we can all do to suggest 'work-arounds' to them.
Comments from John Atherton
From talking with members I hear of lots ways members are or have learned together.
Daily Bread and Unicorn used to do staff exchanges, as did Brixton Cycles and Bicycle Doctor does anyone still do these, or would they like me to facilitate exchanges?
Becky of Who Made Your Pants recently visited Infinity to learn about engaging members in the Co-operative Culture. Both parties even got paid for this through a NCVO fund called Only Connect.
Members are always asking for example policies and procedures, and I share what I have on a resources page for worker co-operatives (I am always looking for new resources and links to add).
We are developing an online resources repository, wiki and the ability to discuss issues with other members on a new Business Networking Website (more information on this in November).
I agree with Adrian, there are lots of opportunties for co-operatives to learn from each other. What are your barriers to doing more?