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Break Free from Our Systems Prison – A Human Centred Way of Thinking About and Managing Co-operatives

SMU LogosPractitioners know that standard management techniques don’t work very well in co-operatives, especially in flat hierarchy, high participation co-ops.  And when that standard tool doesn’t do what we were led to believe it would do, how often do we blame ourselves and even the co-operative model itself?

But perhaps orthodox management theory, including much that underlies co-operative management, is fundamentally inappropriate for our use. 

In this webinar we will discuss the ideology of systems theory which lies at the heart of most orthodox management thinking (an ideology which may be more about control and reinforcing hierarchy than the best option for co-operative governance and business management). 

Bob will be introducing a little known, but very exciting, alternative way of thinking about organisations, based on the communication and relationship processes of the humans involved, from the work of Ralph D Stacey and his colleagues at the University of Hertfordshire Business School, UK. 

Participants will consider if management thinking based on human communicating and relating processes -Complex Responsive Processes of Relating- could be a more effective way of managing co-operatives.

About the speaker: Bob Cannell has spent his working life helping manage and support worker owned co-operatives in the UK. He was the personnel officer for Suma ( during the twenty years when the worker co-op grew to be one of the largest businesses in its locality and a wealth generating machine for its workers and their communities. As a co-operative development worker, Bob has advised many UK worker co-ops, co-authoring the Co-ops UK Code of Governance for Worker Co-operatives, and was the UK representative for the International Co-operative Alliance worker co-op sector organisation - CICOPA, and vice-chair of the European region, CECOP.  He is an ecology graduate and political economy post-grad, which he credits for his analytical and independent approach to management and organisational thinking.

Register for this webinar now!

Buy Social Canada Symposium 2020 (Update - Now Digital)

Buy Social Symposium 2020

COVID-19 Update: Join us for the online Symposium!

At Buy Social Canada's core our goal is to help shape healthy communities.

Now, more than ever we are seeing the importance of shaping thriving and resilient local economies. Things will change after the dust has settled from this crisis and the importance of social value procurement can not be understated. Join us to learn from industry experts and the Social Procurement Champion Award winners.

Currently the best action we can take to help our community is to adapt our in-person Symposium to a digital event as we practice social distancing and isolation to limit the rate of infection of COVID-19.

With gratitude for the technology that makes this possible we look forward to connecting with you at the Buy Social Canada Digital Symposium.

View the program and register

Local Organizing for Responsible Development

Join a conversation to explore how local organizing principles and approaches can contribute to the creation of more sustainable, fair and inclusive economies.

The Local Organizing for Fair Economies Community of Practice met twice in Fall 2019, exchanging ideas, learning, and experiences. We're looking forward to invigorating conversation and expanding our circle in 2020 with an exciting calendar ahead.

January's conversation will be on "Local Organizing for Responsible Development":

The Toronto Community Benefits Network is a leader in local organizing for equitable economic opportunities and inclusion for all, directly impacting the development process in the City of Toronto. Learn from their tangible examples about how to build grassroots support to enable policy reform and in the process transform local economies.

Kumsa Baker, Campaigns Manager for the Toronto Community Benefits Network, will share knowledge and experiences, followed by facilitated discussion and group conversations. 

Join us from 1:00-2:30pm Eastern Standard Time on January 31, 2020.

Register now and connection details will be emailed to you, as well as a reminder a few days before the session.


Kumsa Baker - Campaigns Manager, Toronto Community Benefits Network

Since getting involved in the labour movement organizing for a union at his workplace, Rogers Centre a.k.a the Skydome, Kumsa Baker has been an advocate for decent work and equitable employment opportunities for all in Toronto. In 2015, Kumsa joined the Research Department at his Hospitality and Food Service worker union, UNITE HERE, supporting key campaigns across North America. He has also organized with the Toronto 15 & Fairness Campaign who were successful in organizing for and winning major changes and improvements to the outdated Ontario Employment Standards Act. In 2017, Kumsa was recognized for his advocacy being selected for the 2017 Young Workers Award by the Ontario Federation of Labour. Kumsa currently works as Campaigns Manager with the Toronto Community Benefits Network, supporting Toronto neighbourhoods in organizing for fairer economies and equitable, local economic development through Community Benefits Agreements


  • The Local Organizing for Fair Economies Community of Practice is an online conversation space, held through video conferencing on Zoom.
  • This session is in English.
  • You will need speakers or a headset on your computer.  To ensure your system will be compatible with our webinar platform, look at the Zoom quick start guide prior to the session. 
  • Further login details will be sent along with a registration confirmation.

Register now


The Local Organizing for Fair Economies Community of Practice faciliates conversations with people from across Canada and Indigenous territories to:

  • Curate resources (Community Benefits page)
  • Facilitate conversations about challenges and solutions
  • Track policy updates (municipal, provincial, federal, Indigenous, etc.)
  • Help identify resources available

The Investment Readiness Program: a 101 for Social Purpose Organizations

Women talking around a tableBusiness doesn’t have to be just about the bottom line. Community leaders know that business can be done differently, and can be a tool for social innovation that unlocks effective solutions to pressing social, cultural and environmental concerns.

The Investment Readiness Program (IRP) aims to support them. Successful applicants will get between $10,000 - $100,000 to invest in their social enterprise and help make an even greater positive change in their community. These funds can be used to research, launch, design, measure and scale up your social enterprise to achieve your sustainability plan to take on investment in the future.

This free webinar is intended for social purpose organizations interested in applying to the IRP.  Find out more about the program and the steps to apply.

Register Now

Canadian Co-operative Investment Fund Webinar

If your co-operative is looking to grow, introduce new offerings to its members, or expand into new markets, the innovative financing solutions from Canadian Co-operative Investment Fund (CCIF) could be the resource you need. CCIF is also an incredible resource for Opportunity Development Co-operatives to access additional capital to finance larger projects to make a greater impact in your community! Also, if you are a lender or involved in local economic development, this webinar offers a ton of value. This (free) lunch and learn webinar is hosted by CCIF’s Director of Community Lending, Christina Baker. Learn more and register for this FREE event today!

Event Details:
• When: December 11th from noon to 1PM MST
• Where: Online
• What: Learn how the CCIF financing can be used to advance your goals
• How: Register Now

Learn more about the webinar: Click here

Social Enterprise World Forum 2021

*In light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, SEWF C.I.C. and the SEWF 2020 host Common Good Solutions, have agreed to postpone this year’s event in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Instead of gathering in Canada from 23-25th September 2020 the global social enterprise community will come together in Halifax from 2 – 4th June 2021.*

We are often divided by our differences and separated by our fears. Imagine three days of relationship strengthening meeting old friends, making new ones, and focusing on our common interests, shared values, commitment to people and community, and our need to protect the planet.  Nova Scotia is a place where the land, sea and sky meet in a sensory cornucopia. Smell, see and feel the differences of place. This is our place and we want to share it with you. Join us for a time and carry us away in your hearts as you leave.

Learn more


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