A set of principles form electric cooperatives’ strong, community-focused foundation. A purpose hewed by history has kept Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative successful for decades.
The timeless values behind co-ops of all stripes have been in place since the late 1840s. They apply to not just electric cooperatives but any organization that follows the co-op form of business. They’re concepts that would serve well most any organization.
The Seven Cooperative Principles endure today and are proof that the co-op business model works. They are:
- Voluntary and Open Membership.
- Democratic Member Control.
- Members’ Economic Participation.
- Autonomy and Independence.
- Education, Training and Information.
- Cooperation Among Cooperatives.
- Concern for Community.
In addition to being well run, financially sound and rooted in core values, electric cooperatives embody several distinctive characteristics, as identified by the 21st Century Cooperative Committee. Once again, the themes go beyond good business practices. They are:
- Purpose guides cooperatives like a compass.
- Member empowerment is our bottom line.
- Member engagement is our path to empowerment.
- Trust and loyalty are fostered by positive engagement.
- Sustainability of the electric cooperative model is the result.
At TVEC, we recognize that cooperatives’ purpose is to power communities and empower members to improve the quality of their lives.
The principles make clear that purpose:
Drives everything. It drives all major decision-making and becomes the determining factor in how to allocate resources, hire employees, plan for the future and judge success.
Is a path to high performance. It fulfills a deep-seated need and earns member-owners’ satisfaction.
Fosters visionary ideas and meaningful innovation. It provides the direction necessary to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Moves mountains. It can rally the troops to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.
Provides stability in a turbulent marketplace. It carries us through when times get tough and the road seems unclear.
Injects co-ops with a healthy dose of reality. It is not something you can fake. It’s genuine. It’s real. And it’s something that you, as members-owners, can honestly appreciate about us.
Recruits passionate people. It makes us more attractive to driven people.
Brings energy and vitality to the work at hand. It provides meaningful and sustainable motivation for employees.
Contributes to a life well lived. Work is no longer a 9-to-5 job to be endured but a meaningful source of fulfillment and satisfaction.
Some values, principles and purposes are timeless and broadly applicable. As a cooperative, we continue to uphold our guiding philosophies, and I find inspiration in them personally, as well, because we all should uphold our strong values, wholesome characteristics and purpose.