PV Squared is a Western MA based, cooperatively owned and run solar design, installation, and maintenance company employing 43 employees.
PV Squared recently switched to a co-op structure. Yet, they’re actions are still mirroring their former business structure which has bred inequitable power sharing and mistrust among the workers. One of their largest difficulties was decision making. They don’t have a systematized way of communicating.
When they try to make a choice by uniform consensus, there’s a large lag in decision making.
When they make choices from the top down, workers become frustrated, communicate worse, and make worse decisions.
Workers are either left out or decision making gets bogged down.
The goal of cultural development is to ensure a language and a culture where workers know how to “call in” damaging and negative behaviors, give constructive feedback in a way that will improve organizational culture and return to community agreements as necessary to evaluate culture shifts.
Facilitated an all co-op meeting
Assessed client needs and points of contention
Produced an extensive set of recommendations/report to support a strategic plan for how to address power dynamics
These were executed with the goal of holding both leadership and team to policies/practices that create a safe work environment across the intersectional spectrum of identity in line with anti-oppression goals.
I helped them clearly identify the challenges their team currently faces to creating a welcoming and inclusive culture. We then visioned into where the organization wants to be in 5 years are source I made recommendations about how to create a transparent and equitable communication process that holds leadership accountable to these commitments.
The New Decision Making Process
The Leadership team and board lead a meeting to present issues to the entire staff.
During that meeting, they listen to what people want
Leadership makes documents that summarize the wants of the Co-op
The documents are distributed during a vetting period where people can suggest changes
Leadership rereads the documents and makes final choices
For some unique situations, the decision making process is different. In these circumstances, leadership was advised on how to proceed with transparency and buy-in.
PV Squared has been making strides towards being more queer inclusive and gender informed. While they’ve updated their bathroom policies, they’ve been unable to make a clear email policy for months. Because no unanimous consensus could be reached, no choice was made at all.
There were many tangible impacts. The biggest of which being clear policies for decision making based on full or majority consensus rooted in evidence and research.
Workers are more accountable to a mechanism for developing organizational culture
Implement policies and practices that create a safe work environment across the intersectional spectrum of identity
Create clear guidelines for decision making standards for holding each other accountable
Teaching how to use living documents that evolve as workers do and allows space for comments and growth throughout the co-op
Decisions are more concrete, faster, and effective. Co-op members feel included and vested in their business.