While the Trustees hold final responsibility for A.A.’s world service administration, they should always have the assistance of the best possible standing committees, corporate service directors, executives, staffs and consultants. Therefore the composition of these underlying committees and service boards, the personal qualifications of their members, the manner of their induction into service, the systems of their rotation, the way in which they are related to each other, the special rights and duties of our executives, staffs and consultants, together with a proper basis for the financial compensation of these special workers, will always be matters for serious care and concern.
It seems to me that during this particular time in A.A. Concept Eleven deserves a thorough review. In this Concept we acknowledge that the Trustees, although they hold the final responsibility, cannot possibly do all of the work that needs to be done in administering the services of our fellowship.
The Trustees are unpaid trusted servants, most of whom are still involved in their own careers and life responsibilities. They have only part time to devote to their unpaid work for Alcoholics Anonymous. Therefore, it is important to ensure that they have the best possible assistance and that the paid staff members of our General Service Office and the Grapevine are well qualified and their roles are clearly defined.
Most members of Alcoholics Anonymous may never have an opportunity to meet any of the Trustees outside their own region. However, every member of A.A. who seeks information or assistance from the General Service Office or the Grapevine will have an opportunity to interact with the staff members, and from these staff members they will obtain the assistance or information they seek.
Similarly, these staff members will be the most frequent representation of A.A. to those members of the public who seek information about our program. For these potential friends of A.A. the staff member contacted is the face of A.A. It is essential, then, that these staff members should be informed, capable and given the authority they need to perform this service for us.
The discussion of Concept XI in the Service Manual also provides detailed information about the structure of the Trustees’ Committees and the corporate structures of A.A.W.S. and the A.A. Grapevine. While we as a fellowship are discussing the possibility of revising this structure, it is good to look to our history, and to the reasoning behind the current structure, which is comprised of two separate corporations. Only by understanding the purpose for the structure can we come to an informed decision regarding any proposed changes to that structure, and the impact such changes may have.
This Concept also outlines the A.A. method for delegation of authority and responsibility, compensation philosophy, rotation of staff, and other matters which are unique to A.A. Indeed, it almost seems the amount of information could easily have been broken down into several Concepts – but then we would have more than twelve, a number to which many of us seem to have a real attachment!
My hope is that this brief glimpse of Concept XI will encourage the reader to pick up the service manual again, or for the first time, and learn more about the fascinating program of Alcoholics Anonymous which has not only saved my life, but given me a life worth living.
Mickey H., Past Delegate
Panel 49, Utah Area 69