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Outpost's Board of Directors will use this blog to discuss issues the board is exploring as it envisions Outpost's future. Can't make it to a meeting? Check here frequently to read what the Board is up to. Your current Outpost Board of...
Your Board

How Outpost's Co-op Culture Helps Us Walk Our Talk

Board Beet
By Your Board on August 28, 2019

A lot of ink has been spilled about how companies can up their game to survive and excel in a hyper-competitive, and rapidly-changing market. Often, it comes back to people and relationships. Of course, it has much to do with systems and products as well, but it always boils down to people. 

You can’t be an excellent organization without excellent people. And an organization can’t make excellent people. It starts with hiring the right ones, then demanding and supporting excellence along the way. It sounds simple, but it’s not.

This idea of excellence – defining it, systematizing it, and measuring it – isn’t a new quest. I still remember the 1980s blockbuster business best seller “In Search of Excellence.” The book found that "excellent companies give people meaning, control of their work, and positive reinforcement." Often companies try to be excellent by mimicking it – talking the talk, instead of walking the walk. But it doesn’t work.

In order for organizations to reach the next level, values have to be internalized, by both management and staff. At Outpost, the Board has been wrestling with how to do its part to support this goal for some time. Because we use policies to govern, which management then interprets and subsequently acts upon, implementing changes and measuring progress takes time.

What the Board and management absolutely understand, is that everything revolves around our people. Service, friendliness, a feeling of inclusivity, and even the quality of our products are all dependent on the people we hire, and the manner in which we support them. Management and the board are committed to a long-term plan of raising wages, and management has been working on incremental changes over the past several years. Along the way, we are also raising expectations. And of course the entire organizational culture and mission needs to centered on meeting the needs of our owners, as well as exceeding their expectations.

This owner-focused drive to quality depends on effective communication between owners, the Board, management, and staff. In updating our Global Ends policy (currently “Outpost Natural Foods exists so that our owners have a healthy, diverse, and sustainable community; this is accomplished while maintaining the long-term strength of the cooperative.”), the Board is attempting to capture this cycle of execution, feedback, and continual improvement. We’ll keep you posted on our progress.


Jan Pierce

Board Treasurer


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