"It is always easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them." - [Alfred Adler]
Policies are statements that provide clear guidance as to the actions required, the practices to be followed and the standards of behaviour expected by persons within an organization.
Policies may be formulated directly by the membership, usually incorporated within the rules or constitution of the coop, or be agreed by the Board of Directors on behalf of the members.
Policies in turn need to be converted into sound practices and be supported by appropriate systems.
The most essential policies in coops are 'Foundation Policies', these are the absolutely essential policies required to ensure that the organization achieves its purpose and carries out its proper function; such foundation policies also provide overarching guidance for all policy-making throughout the organization. Foundation policies are best set out in the form of concise statements setting out the policy and the consequences of non-compliance. Each cooperative must formulate its own policies in consultation with its membership to meet its own specific needs.
Policy audits need to be undertaken at regular intervals, especially with regard to all foundation policies, otherwise policy deviation may go unnoticed and this can seriously undermine the operation of a cooperative.
Hypocrisy the great de-motivator: Cooperators are fond of talking about values and principles, however, this can be extremely damaging to any coop if they become mere platitudes. Values need to be translated into standards of behaviour that are backed up by very clear policies with systems in place to support their implementation in practice. If such policies are to have meaning then they must be backed up by sanctions, and rewards where appropriate.