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Introducing Member First

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A few words from your Group Chief Executive Officer

Hello, and welcome to Member First!

Member First is a three year transformation project that will specifically target our head offices with the aim of improving the working environment and arrangements for our colleagues whilst ensuring we operate the most efficient working practices and processes.

With a more efficient and engaged central function we will address the fundamental relationship with our Members to ensure that we make membership more rewarding with the ability to offer relevant and personalised journeys for every Member.

Finally, I would like to thank you in anticipation of your support and contribution that will be critical to the success of Member First.

Phil Ponsonby 


What is it?

Member First is a transformational programme which focuses on ‘getting more from today’ through smarter ways of working within Support Services.

Support Services includes the central support within trading groups.

The programme covers five key areas: People, Members, Buildings, Processes and New Business Ideas and while each workstream has a dedicated lead we will achieve the Member First objectives by working with, and gaining support and input from all our support colleagues.

Member First will address waste and inefficiency throughout our offices. Waste and inefficiency could take the form of unnecessary tasks, complex & repetitive processes, over use of consumables such as copy and print or postage. It will also look at our office environment, and our practices for both meetings and output.

While our members are at the heart of everything we do, we have a specific workstream looking at our membership processes; two way communication, understanding what our members want and providing appropriate offers and reward.

While defining what Member First is, it is equally important to be clear about what it is NOT:

  • Member First will NOT address branch operations – it is focused on support services but that does include trading group support functions.
  • Member First is NOT a top down process – we need your help with identification of focus areas
  • Member First is NOT a simple resource reduction exercise
  • Member First is NOT a one-off exercise – it is a continuous improvement practice and mindset
  • Member first does NOT include Energy, which already has its own operational excellence program

What does Member First mean for you?

Member First is an opportunity for you to contribute and input to and become part of our Support Services transformation.

We want to create a working environment where negative language such as:

  • We have always done it that way ….
  • I don’t know why I’m doing this but I’ve been told to ….
  • Everyone does it differently ….
  • I have my own process for that ….
  • I work around the process ….
  • Well that meeting was a waste of time ….
  • I’m not sure what I’m doing so I’ll just leave it ….

is no longer necessary because you can do something about it.

As an output we want to deliver:

  • Improved office facilities and environment
  • More efficient and effective working practices
  • A clearer colleague journey
  • Appropriate and accessible policies
  • An opportunity for you to be involved in our future.





Member First needs YOU!

We have a small dedicated team, who will facilitate the delivery of Member First by working with all our support colleagues.  

We need your input & support in identifying and addressing the daily frustrations you face allowing us to work with you to fully understand the current state and design and deliver the solution.

  • What would make your working day easier & more efficient ?
  • Where do you feel the process is not clear or doesn’t work ?
  • What do we need to change to allow you to increase output ?
  • Where do you see waste every day ?
  • What do you do that you don’t even know why you do it ?
  • What do you do that you have seen done better in previous organisations ?

We need your ideas and we need your help to implement solutions.


Delivering this programme

The overall programme will be governed by an Executive Steering Group led by Phil Ponsonby.
Member First programme is led by John Street, with Executive sponsorship through Caroline Westall

Please direct any questions to the Member First Team

Colleagues will be represented and consulted every step of the way.

More about the Work Streams

Susan Barguss  

A detailed review of the 3 key phases of the colleague journey:

  • Getting in: the recruitment and on boarding journey.
  • Settling in: the first thirteen weeks.
  • Staying in: training, communication, ways of working, reviews and progression.

Melody Aguero  

  • Focusing on our brand and Member experience to create a recognised brand that will differentiate us from our competition by reflecting our Co-op difference.
  • Define and deliver Member standards with the creation of generic Society brand promises.
  • To make membership more rewarding by understanding our Members and the ability to offer relevant and personalised journeys.
  • To ensure our Member journey is easy and utilises effective technology.

 Julie Sheldon  

  • To offer appropriate working environments for a forward thinking organisation.
  • To challenge current office layouts and practices to explore and introduce new ideas that will increase colleague engagement and improve the working environment.
  • To facilitate the appropriate locations which support proposed Agile Working practices.

John Street  

  • To ensure that all Society wide processes are visible, workable and efficient.
  • To address variations in common processes and remove complexity.
  • To ensure that all common processes, policies and communications are visible, digital and easy.
  • To identify common reporting and communications and establish one way of working.
  • Ongoing commitment to research and development around businesses of the future.
  • To provide dedicated resource and the appropriate tools to effectively evaluate new business opportunities.
  • Research work streams to develop seeds placed with the business unit.
  • Continual monitoring and assessment of industry best practice.