A 50th Anniversary “Framing Story”: Tomorrow—We’ll Meet You There

A “framing story” gives people direction, values, vision, and inspiration by providing a framework for their lives. It tells them who they are, where they come from, where they are, what’s going on, where things are going, and what they should do.

“The story we believe and live in today has a lot to do with the world we create for our children, our grandchildren, and our descendants hundreds of years from now.” – Richard Rohr

One Annual Report Celebrating 50 Years

Communicating an organization’s yearly results is hard. This CUSO’s 30-page 2020 Report to Owners is one of best conceived documents I have seen.

The information is accessible at a glance, easy to follow, well-organized and delivers a powerful message. That is a difficult task when telling one year’s performance let alone summarizing five decades.

The details go from artistic portraits of the leadership team to the prosaic summary of financials with ratios showing two decades of double-digit balance sheet growth.

It portrays a 50-year timeline from 1970 as WESCO, the origin story, to today’s footprint . The current scope is outlined on a US map, showing a “Community” in 25 states, of 179 credit unions, serving 1.9 million members with just 290 employees.

More than Portraits and Numbers on Paper

To have meaning any report must tell a story. One that uses that past and present to prepare for tomorrow. Throughout the pages are words of timeless wisdom:

  • “Ownership sets us apart”
  • “Participation is an investment”
  • “A community with power to influence and nurture the organization”
  • “Cooperative ideas that work for anyone, anytime, anywhere”
  • “Members define their success. . .therefore members define our success”
  • “A bond of fellowship, commitment and loyalty”
  • “The way we use the investment of patronage must multiply”
  • “Driven by a set of principles—coops are distinct from all other enterprises”
  • “A constant work in progress, a place for dreamers, planners, innovators and even sometimes for anarchists”
  • “Be passionate and fairytale careers will be made”

As for the next 50 years: “A cooperative is a magical thing. A consumer’s audacity to reach out and grab ownership-the means of production-for themselves can change everything. It’s magical because often the consumer doesn’t even realize what they own and the power of that ownership. It just is. Powerful.”

To see the entire Report, visit https://www.cuanswers.com/about/report-to-owners/.

One Reply to “A 50th Anniversary “Framing Story”: Tomorrow—We’ll Meet You There”

  1. Thanks Chip, I may not have seen this otherwise.  I really like “members define their success.”  This fits perfectly in helping people understand the Carver principle of defining outcomes or Ends as Carver calls it.  He says “don’t say how to get there, just describe what it looks like when you are there.”  This is pretty foreign to a lot of board members because they are focused on how to get there.  That’s the job of management.  So “members defining their success” articulates the job of the board on behalf of the member/owners.

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