The Sustainable Whoops Cooperative:
lessons learned the hard way...
1. Beware of the "experts" who are part of the traditional system.
a. The traditional forestry system has not protected the forest in the past
b. The traditional forestry system has not protected the forest owner....
c. Be careful when outside 'experts' try and help, saying 'do it my way'
2. Set your own Mission, Goals, and Objectives - Aim for long-term success.
3. Write your own business plan, so you know the plan.
a. The core organizing group and the GM should write the business plan
b. A plan written by outside 'experts' has little value, it is not understood
4. Find experienced, hands-on, real world advisors who walk the walk…
a. Many of the 'experts' are educated but not experienced
i. They are not in business and don't understand business
ii. The forest owner's point of view must be kept top priority
b. Get the information you need, don't try and reinvent the system.
5. Choose Board of Directors wisely (form a nominating committee)
a. Board members should have good business experience
b. Board members should use the services of cooperative
i. They are investing major amounts of time, taking risks
ii. They must be fully trained, informed, and involved.
c. Board members should be major investors (in proportion to the size of ownership), must lead the way.
d. Don't just take anyone who volunteers or can't say NO
e. The board should not try to run the business by committee.
i. Few things happen between board meetings
ii. Everyone has regular jobs and limited time
6. Train all members and Board members of their responsibilities.
a. Everyone must learn how cooperatives should operate
b. Learn from successful cooperatives
7. Hire the best manager possible
a. The manager operates the cooperative as a business
b. The manager hires, trains, and supervises the staff
c. A good manager will pay their way and make everyone successful
"we don't have money to hire a manager" dooms the cooperative
8. Promote the "Seven Principles of Cooperation"
9. Practice Ego-system management - learn to cooperate!
10. Move quickly and efficiently to keep people involved
For this to work, forest owners must join our forces and redefine the timber market. Together, woodlot owners would have strength and skills needed to make our timber resources work to our advantage.