Co-operative democracy – 1: Peter Marks, the Group’s CEO

Late in October I wrote to colleagues in an organisation working with energy co- operatives who were expressing ‘starry-eyed’ views of the movement. I quoted from a recent article in the Co-operative News :

Co-operative Group Chief Executive Peter Marks has expressed concerns that Co-op democracy is sometimes a brake on progress for large retail societies . . . (He) also believed that internal democracy had delayed progress.

Talking about the need for consolidation, he told delegates: “How do you bring change about in a democracy? It’s very difficult. A few of us decided we needed to confront this issue and get people to recognise that change was necessary . . . “

He added that among the challenges he faces as Chief Executive of the Group was the democratic structure of the society. He commented: “Democracy is a force for good, but it’s also a force for weakness. It takes us too long to recognise the changes happening in the world”.

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