Concept 10

Short Form:

“Every service responsibility should be matched by an equal service authority, with the scope of such authority well defined.”

Long Form:

Every service responsibility should be matched by an equal service authority—the scope of such authority to be always well defined whether by tradition, by resolution, by specific job description or by appropriate charters and bylaws.

Principle of the Concept:


One Thing You Need To Know:

Clarity of Roles, Responsibility and Authority is Vital

Clarity of Roles, Responsibility and Authority is Vital

I bet the company you work for believes this as well.  No effective and successful business can run without it.  A.A. has gone to great lengths to ensure there is final/ultimate authority and to define where it lies should any “course correction” ever be needed.

This Concept suggests that providing trusted servants with clearly defined jobs and the authority to do those jobs is equally important.

This is where the idea of the “group conscience” as ultimate authority and the “trusted servant” as delegated authority clearly cross paths and need each other to function.

from Twelve Concepts of World Service Illustrated

Our service structure cannot function effectively and harmoniously unless, at every level, each operational responsibility is matched by a corresponding authority to discharge it. This requires that authority must be delegated at every level — and that the responsibility and authority of every entity are well defined and clearly understood. As we have seen (Concept I) “final responsibility and ultimate authority” reside with the A.A. groups, and they delegate this authority to the Conference (Concept II). The Conference, in turn, delegates to the General Service Board the authority to manage A.A.’s affairs (Concept VI) in its behalf.

The board is in authority over its subsidiary operating conditions — A.A. World Services, Inc. and The A.A. Grapevine, Inc. — but it delegates to the directors of those corporations the authority necessary to run these service entities. The directors are in authority over the executives of the corporations, but delegate to these officers the authority needed to carry out their administrative responsibilities. And finally, the executives delegate to the G.S.O. and Grapevine staff members and other employees the authority necessary to carry out their important service jobs.

“It is perfectly clear,” says Bill, “that when delegated authority is operating well, it should not be constantly interfered with.” Otherwise, he warns, “those charged with operating responsibly will be demoralized.” For example, the General Service Board owns the two operating corporations and its authority over them is absolute. “Nevertheless, so long as things go well, it is highly important that the trustees do not unnecessarily interfere with or usurp the operating authority of these entities.”

“To sum up: Let us always be sure that there is an abundance of final or ultimate authority to correct or to reorganize; but let us be equally sure that all of our trusted servants have a clearly defined and adequate authority to do their daily work and to discharge their clear responsibilities.”

The text above is an excerpt from the A.A. conference approved pamphlet (P8) The Twelve Concepts for World Service Illustrated. Download your own copy of the full pamphlet.


  1. Do we understand “authority” and “responsibility” as they relate to group conscience decisions by G.S.R.s, D.C.M.s and our area delegates?
  2. Why is delegation of “authority” so important to the overall effectiveness of A.A.?
  3. Do we use this concept to define the scope of “authority”?

This checklist offered as part of Service Material from the General Service Office (SMF-91).  Download your copy of the complete checklist.