Organization structure

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As an organization grows, it will likely adopt some form of structure in order to manage work. Ad-hoc management of powers & responsibilities may be very efficient in early stages, but familiarity with organization structure as it has manifested within other co-ops may provide guidance. The information on this page is not meant as a blueprint but is instead a sampling of terms, groups, and ideas as employed by others.

Common Group Titles

Working Group, Committee, Squad, Team, Collective.

Group types

An organization may use multiple terms, to refer to groups with different characteristics.

A theoretical range of 3 group types within one organization:

  • Working Group - Narrow focus on work conducted primarily via meetings, shorter-term goals, no subdivisions, and no expectations of ongoing work.
  • Committee - Broad focus (e.g. Membership) on work conducted primarily via meetings, subdivisions with narrow focus, and expectation that the group will continue to function indefinitely.
  • Squad - Narrow focus on work that requires less meeting time & coordination, no subdivisions, and expectation that the group will continue to function indefinitely.

Other ways in which groups may differ: committee charter, meeting frequency, process for becoming a member, process for losing membership, decision making process used within the group (see: deciding how to decide), tools used, expected level of record keeping.

Some possible group divisions & responsibilities

  • Administration / Admin - General meeting management: preparation, notification, facilitation. Proposal reviews, voting. Record keeping.
  • Communication & Graphics - Outreach materials & support, (social)media contacts, signage, support for website work.
  • Membership - Membership policy and appeals, outreach strategy, analysis, scheduling, training.
  • Education - Member education, workshift training, member orientation.
  • Facilities -
  • Finance - Accounts payable, analysis, filing, insurance.
  • Information Technology / Information Systems - Equipment maintenance & sysadmin work, website, phone.
  • Staff - For a store that depends on a mixture of paid & volunteer labor, groups specific to the two can serve a useful purpose.
  • Member Workers - See "Staff."
  • Operations -
  • Board of Delegates - A group including representatives from other groups, committees, boards, or otherwise. Could also include representatives elected at-large by the membership.
Practical groups

If a specific task or project is large enough, or so complex that it spans involvement in multiple groups, it may be desirable that it be directly overseen by a specific group. A few examples of groups that could logically exist as subgroups, but are perhaps more practical as groups in their own right:

  • Databases - Membership database, product database. Mixture of Membership & Information Systems.
  • Ethics / Food Justice and Anti-racism - Diverse social justice and access issues.

Group missions within a growing organization

Groups may have changing missions as an organization develops. A "Facilities" group may handle siting, equipment sourcing, equipment repair, and expansion in turn, over time. Creating numerous specific groups may work well, or may cause confusion. Consider temporary subdivisions or changing missions as an alternative to proliferation of groups, and what consequences these choices will have on governance, collaboration, and organization.