Hit or Miss? Co-op invites public to "Have Your Say" on future strategy

The Co-operative Group has launched a wide-ranging research campaign to gauge the public's opinion of the 150-year-old company and what they think it should be doing.

The feedback it receives will form part of the Co-op's strategic review after a difficult year in which its banking arm was bailed out by private investors and former chairman Paul Flowers was embroiled in scandal.

Spearheading the engagement campaign is the Co-op's group chief executive Euan Sutherland along with the Co-op’s in-house comms team and its financial PR agency Tulchan.

How I see it

Andrew Wilson, managing partner, Charlotte Street Partners and former group comms director, RBS

"Don’t just do something, stand there" was President Reagan’s favoured entreaty to the overactive staffers around him. And calm reflection is rarely a bad thing in leaders. But "doing something" carries a real premium for any organisation trying to emerge from crisis to purpose.

Of course we have to be sure we have "hit bottom" or purposeful action could be wasted in the next explosion. But even then a drum-beat of something positive is often the only antidote available to us in the storm.

So while the first instinct might be to think Euan Sutherland’s initiative could be faddish or faux it certainly ticks the box for trying. Getting coherent views of depth and acting on them will be the challenge.

I’d probably have started with the 90,000 staff and then the claimed 8 million members of the Co-op. Really? Do the members know they are members? Have they ever been contacted? Work that group and you have a profoundly powerful voice in the making.

The launch coverage was OK, no more. But the power of the initiative over time could be transformational. Put cynicism in the drawer for now and celebrate someone making an effort.

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