Playing Co-opoly at Co-ops United Manchester

Britta Werner
Britta Werner, Unicorn Co-operative Grocery & one of our promoters

We were delighted to have the opportunity to play and promote the game of Co-opoly at the Co-ops United event in Manchester on Thursday 1st November. We managed to set up four games running concurrently and came away totally vindicated in our belief that Co-opoly is an excellent tool for learning about co-operatives and especially what it’s like to work in one.

‘we take this seriously, you know!’

There was much interest in our ‘Pod’ – with people coming in to watch, asking us about the game, and asking where they could get hold of one.We asked players for feedback about the game – here are some of their comments:

  • the game cleverly illustrates a real-life problematic in co-ops, which is trying to find out what’s going on in colleague’s heads …
  • realistic but fun game, similar to working in a workers coop
  • one of the players immediately adopted the role of “Treasurer” to keep tabs on how many points the co-op owned in real time. This was used by the group along with some forward planning in case the points were needed to cover losses to weigh up spending decisions (e.g. “wage” rises for members).  This demonstrated an awareness that the co-op needs enough working capital to survive to trigger member benefit in the longer term and it also needs up to the minute financial information – something not all new-start co-ops understand!
  • die needs round corners, doesn’t roll well
  • black text on red cards is hard to read
  • good for children to learn an alternative to competition (especially siblings)
  • lastly a small child made the clever observation that for countries that don’t use Roman numerals – 1,2 3 etc. – the die would not work, so we agreed that the traditional dots would work better!
Fun for Kids & Bigs!
Fun for Kids & Bigs!

 

We were privileged to have the participation of Donna Balkan, from the Canadian Co-operative Association, who has played Co-opoly “at least 12 times” and who is a great fan of the game. See her blog about Co-ops United & thanks for the photos Donna!

playing Co-opoly
players debate their next move

There was a lot of interest in the new version of Co-opoly, which Toolbox for Education are currently fundraising for, which will be cheaper overseas, because easier to pack and post. Check their website & contribute if you can.

Co-opoly

To celebrate International Co-operatives Year, Cooperantics is proud to promote Co-opoly: The Game of Co-operatives where players collaborate to found and run a democratically owned and controlled business. In the game players make tough choices in order to survive as individuals and strive for the success of their co-operative business. We’ll be playing it with Somerset Co-operative Services before the AGM on 18th July in Taunton, so look out for a review of the game shortly after that.

You can purchase a copy of the game by clicking on the logo in the right hand side bar below

Principles Really Do Matter

Here’s a useful tool for ensuring that your co-operative remains true to co-operative principles – and hence continues to enjoy the co-operative advantage.

Principles Really Do Matter by Nathan Brown

Over the years, I have noticed that many co-operatives I have worked with or known who had suffered some sort of business crisis have had something in common.  They had lost sight of the Co-operative Principles at the heart of the business and the business problems were a symptom of a failing co-operative organisation.

The Co-operative Principles imbue co-ops with what is referred to by co-op geeks (hands up!) as “The Co-operative Advantage”, a very real but ever so intangible attribute that enables co-ops to succeed where other businesses might fail.  In all the focus on celebrating the co-operative advantage and the benefits that being a member of a co-op brings, it is sometimes easy to forget that they are a product of the application of the principles. So what can you do to ensure your co-op stays a co-op in deed as well as name?  Here are a few tips:

Get back to basics.  Be clear about your purpose or aims

A co-operative is based around common economic, social and/or cultural needs.  This is central to the internationally agreed definition of a co-operative.  Clarity about the needs you hold in common and want to address is vital to success.  Ignore the importance of shared and regularly acknowledged purpose at your peril.  There is a risk that ignoring your purpose can lead to “mission creep” as members with differing needs try to bend the co-op to meet those needs.  This can especially be the case if your membership processes require attention.  Eventually the co-op could cease to deliver what it was established for, or break into factionalism.  Sometimes your co-op may be able to address the developing needs of members, but this should be done as a strategic priority, not by stealth.  Sometimes the needs of the membership change but if an individual’s needs cannot be met by the co-op they can always leave – and start another one!  The open and voluntary nature of co-ops applies equally to leaving as to joining.

Sticking to the principles

It’s not difficult to audit yourselves on how you apply the Co-operative Principles, although sometimes some outside assistance can be useful.  It is also a highly educational experience for members both new and old alike.  As time, members, the trade sector and the technological environment change we may find better ways to implement the principles for shared benefit.

Take the 7 principles and then examine each one by one:

  • How does your co-operative implement the principle?
  • How does this contribute to your purpose or aims?
  • Do the ways you implement the principle pro-actively put that principle into practice or is it routine and “it’s what we’ve always done”?
  • Are members clear about why you implement the principles in that way?
  • Is this the most effective way to implement the principle?
  • Does the current way of implementing the principle cause friction or resistance among the membership?
  • Could this be done in a better or different or easier way?

You can find this and other useful thoughts at Nathan’s blog

Co-opoly

It’s arrived! My Co-opoly game arrived yesterday.

Co-opoly: The Game of Cooperatives is a creative and exciting game designed for the growing cooperative movement. Games have been proven to be unique resources that shape the way people learn, work, and interact with one another, but Co-opoly is more than just a board game. It is an innovative way for aspiring and existing cooperators, as well as other interested parties, to discover co-ops and to practice cooperation.

People who have played the game call it “fun and engaging” as well as “a great teaching tool about how to build and sustain” cooperatives.

Can’t wait to start playing!

Will there be a game in Taunton during Co-ops Fortnight?

the jigsaw game

an essential tool in every co-operative developer’s bag! This excellent game can bring that fantastic penny dropping moment when people truly experience for the first time what it means to co-operate. A simple exercise involving asking players to complete jigsaws with the random pieces provided – without speaking. Players can neither speak, nor take pieces away from other players – the only way to complete the jigsaw is by giving pieces away. Important to hold a short discussion beforehand on what it means to co-operate – how do we do it? And also important to debrief afterwards – how close is that to real life, what are the lessons we can learn? Highly recommended, and you can find a link to a description of the game and a template, produced by the Co-operative College, here.