By: Lucy O.
Concept Five: For each responsibility assigned to the service structure, a single point of decision and accountability should be clearly defined.
Until a year or 2 ago I was not one who looked to the concepts as having principles within them that were for the best interest of our service structure as a whole. I was not a fan of “delegation” as I felt this idea was often used to circumvent getting a group conscience, as in “home group” conscience. I felt they were used to diminish the value of our group, area and regional representatives in that they advocate for everyone getting an equal ‘voice’ in our service structure. Hence, many service bodies allow everyone a ‘vote’ not just the representatives, which means that some folks get 2 votes (but that’s a whole nother discussion for another day!).
While, I still feel strongly about the above 2 concepts, those were examples of me of throwing the baby out with the bath water. I gained a greater appreciation of the concepts after being asked at the last minute to speak on them the last time VRC was in Memphis. I read and studied and took notes and was all prepared – and not one person showed up! But I was grateful for my new understanding.
The concepts have some great principles to strive for in our service efforts. One of those can be found in concept 5. When there is a task that needs to be done, whether it is a part of a trusted servant’s duties and responsibilities, or a task for a newly formed temporary or ad hoc committee or workgroup, it is important to spell out several things. The task should be clearly defined. This could be in the form of guidelines for the position. Ideally, In the case of an ad hoc chair (or facilitator) when the chair is appointed, the expectations should be recorded in the minutes of the service body so that there is no confusion.
When an ad hoc chair is appointed, they are then the single point of accountability for the task at hand. The service body where the appointment takes place (Area Service Committee, Regional Service Committee, Zonal Forum, World Board, Subcommittee, etc) is free to and encouraged to ask any questions for clarity and to not be afraid to speak up in support of or with any concerns they may have. The chair normally forms a committee or workgroup to assist him or her in completing the task. The chair of the ad hoc makes regular reports to the service body as to the progress of the work on the task at hand. Likewise, during these reports, it is the responsibility of the service body to 1) ask for any clarification so as to be able to properly inform those they are accountable to. 2) if there is a lack of communication by the ad hoc chair (or whoever the single point of accountability is), then speak up. Ask about the status of the work being done. For instance, a GSR should be able to answer any questions in his/her home group’s business meetings (they are the single point of accountability to bring information back and forth from area to the group). The GSR should be prepared. Take notes during the ASC meeting. Ask questions at the ASC. Look over the minutes well in advance of the business meeting and if there is anything not explained or understood, ask the appropriate individuals ahead of time.
Maybe the principles laid out in the concepts seem to be common sense and something most would do anyway. But, it is so easy for things to get overlooked when sitting in a service committee meeting. One of the most important things to remember is – don’t be in a hurry – whether it is the ASC meeting or home group business meeting. Yes, the time of all members is important, but one of the responsibilities when most trusted servants are elected is to have the time and resources to fulfill the position – so take your time and do a good job. Communicate clearly and thoroughly. We should hold our trusted servants accountable. But we also need to show them trust and respect. Ask questions for clarification. Thank someone for their service. We can be an example of the importance and value of being service in Narcotics Anonymous. Or we can also be an example of why someone would not want to be of service. Which example do you want to be today?