• robynlifecoop

Act Like An Owner series 1 part i

When we first started the co-operative life business, our goal was to create an environment that empowered the support worker so they, in turn, could provide the best possible care to with the customer. Part of this ideology was that co-ownership of the business through membership would give our staff a stake in the business, this way we could create a successful business focused on the customer, encourage entrepreneurial spirit, empower everyone and share in both the success and the failures.

The Co-operative Life is coming up for its 5th birthday in October, and reflecting on the last five years I find a mixed bag of success and failures. As you may all know, we now have 75 staff 9and growing) and over 120 customers. In this time we have made mistakes and learnt from them, we have also realised how to run a successful business in a tough market – the world of NDIS and Home Care Packages.

What we have not been so successful in cultivating is a wide organisational culture of ownership. There are many reasons for this – in part that I have been working “in the business” rather than “on the business”. However, this has begun to change. With the formation of the Field Leadership Team and the Lead Support Workers and the Support Office, we are creating a structure that supports the day to day running of the business. I now have more time and space to work “on the business”. So a big thank you to our Director of Operations (Aleks), the Regional Directors (Margaret and Davidson) our Support Coordinator (Lesley) the Lead Support Worker ( Mahdi, Vicky, Kay, Pere, Carol and Gus), the Support office (Julien, Harjot Olena and Harini) and of course to all the frontline support staff.


In the following weeks and months, I will be working on building into our existing business the ownership culture – which is integral to being a co-operative. We all want to work in an enjoyable environment; we want all our staff to be committed not only to the customers they serve but also to the business where they work and co-own through membership.

I am working to build an ownership culture where ordinary people, with an intrinsic desire to do their best, accomplish significant personal objectives. We want to create a successful business, with committed staff who are empowered, have team spirit, with a clear vision, mutual respect and trust which can be created through an ownership culture.

The framework we will be introducing to everyone at TCL is to “Act Like an Owner”, we will be introducing to you the concept of out internal franchise. This is our way of developing a foundation for acting like an owner and unlocking entrepreneurial spirit in TCL. It’s a framework for managing the shifting business landscape in social care in Australia.



Our internal franchise will consist of three components: an operating model, entrepreneurial employees and an ownership culture. It is with this operating model we will be able to turn over the business to our employees to run the business BECAUSE they own it.

In a nutshell, this model is all based on TRUST which stands for:





1. Teach your employees the operating model

2.Reward them based on the performance of the business and their contribution to that performance

3. Unconditional support for their actions to develop a truly empowering environment

4. Share information so that everyone can make effective business decisions

5. Be Trustworthy by making and keeping commitments.


[1] R. Bloncheck, M. O’Neill, Act Like an Owner, John Wiley and Sons 1994


If you were wondering about the harvest images as I believe the Law of the Harvest

is a useful metaphor for the process of building an ownership culture.


Let's cultivate

our co-operative,

so we can

all have an

abundant harvest.

1300 494 117

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