Concept 3

Short Form:

“To insure effective leadership, we should endow each element of A.A.—the Conference, the General Service Board and its service corporations, staffs, committees, and executives—with a traditional “Right of Decision.””

Long Form:

As a traditional means of creating and maintaining a clearly defined working relation between the groups, the Conference, the A.A. General Service Board and its several service corporations, staffs, committees and executives, and of thus insuring their effective leadership, it is here suggested that we endow each of these elements of world service with a traditional “Right of Decision.”

Principle of the Concept:


One Thing You Need To Know:

Trusted Servants Have a Right of Decision

Trusted Servants Have a Right of Decision

There will be times where we’ll need to trust our trusted servants to make decisions without a group or service entities approval.  Concept 1 & Concept 2 by themselves cannot ensure smooth operation of A.A. business.  There will be times that full facts (additional background information) and debate not available to groups, will help further inform our trusted servants and their decisions (and their votes on our behalf).

Those decisions may ultimately differ from original consciences’s given to  them when we ask them to vote on our behalf – but those differently made decisions are vital in allowing them to be more than mere messengers.  They have a brain, let’s let them use it.

from Twelve Concepts of World Service Illustrated

A background for this Concept, you should be familiar with the Conference Charter and the Bylaws of the General Service Board, both of which are found in The A.A. Service Manual. For, except for the specific directions in these documents, every trusted servant and every A.A. entity — at all levels of service — has the right “to decide . . . how they will interpret and apply their own authority and responsibility to each particular problem or situation as it arises.” That is, they can “decide which problems they will dispose of themselves and upon which matters they will report, consult, or ask specific directions.” This is “the essence of ‘The Right of Decision.’”

But this right also means the Fellowship must have trust in its “trusted servants.” If the groups instruct their G.S.R.s rather than giving them a “Right of Decision,” then the area conference is hamstrung. If the G.S.R.s instruct the area delegates rather than giving them a “Right of Decision,” then the General Service Conference is hamstrung. As Bill points out, “our Conference delegates are primarily the servants of A.A. as they should . . . cast their votes . . . according to the best dictates of their own judgment and conscience at that time.”

Similarly, if the General Service Board, acting through its subsidiary boards, “were to attempt to manage” the General Service Office and the A.A. Grapevine “in detail, then . . . the staff members . . . would quickly become demoralized; they would be turned into buck-passers and rubber stamps; their choice would be to rebel and resign, or to submit and rot.”

Bill warns against using “The Right of Decision” as an excuse for failure to make the proper reports of actions taken; or for exceeding a clearly defined authority; or for failing to consult the proper people before making an important decision. But he concludes: “Our entire A.A. program rests squarely upon the principle of mutual trust. We trust God, we trust A.A., and we trust each other.”

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 what is meant by the “Right of Decision”? Do we grant it at all levels of service or do we “instruct”?
  2. Do we trust our trusted servants — G.S.R., D.C.M., area delegate, the Conference itself?

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