October is National Co-op Month, which means it’s a wonderful time to reflect on the impact, importance and benefits of the grassroots cooperative business model. Below are three distinctive characteristics of a cooperative business.
- Cooperatives encourage long-term strategies rather than short-term gain, and that applies to customer engagement. Members of NISC have the opportunity to become highly engaged with the organization: They can serve on the board of directors, participate in Member Advisory Committees, and they regularly provide input and feedback on how NISC can develop leading-edge software to meet their needs. Currently, more than 100 Members are involved in a dozen different management advisory committees. Member-Owners are more than customers—they are our partners in product and service delivery, and their active inclusion in that process requires a long-term view.
- Cooperatives promote a culture that serves others first. In the cooperative model, it’s in the best interest of NISC employees to serve customers to the best of their ability, because customers own the company. This means that employees from NISC and employees from our Member organizations get to know one another well—sometimes even becoming lifelong friends—and they communicate frequently about what is and isn’t working. Collaboration is key to our success, and relationships span years.
- Cooperatives support a mindset to seek the greater good for many rather than for just a few. NISC seeks every possible innovation to hold costs down for people we know and work with regularly. At the very heart of what we do, we want to make a difference in the lives of each other and in the lives of our Members.
Our former President and CEO Vern Dosch was recently inducted into the Cooperative Development Foundation’s (CDF) Cooperative Hall of Fame, and during his induction speech he shared about the power of the cooperative model.