The trustees are the principal planners and administrators of overall policy and finance. They have custodial oversight of the separately incorporated and constantly active services, exercising this through their ability to elect all the directors of these entities.
The Trustees of the General Service Board act in two primary capacities: (a) With respect to the larger matters of over-all policy and finance, they are the principal placers and administrators. They and their primary committees directly manage these affairs. (b) But with respect to our separately incorporated and constantly active services, the relation of the Trustees is mainly that of full stock ownership and of custodial oversight which they exercise throughout their ability to elect all directors of these entities.
Questions in service and life
· Do I spend too much time concerned with long-term vision and strategy and too little time managing day-to-day detail?
· Do I spend too much time absorbed in detail and responding to immediate problems, and too little time on long-term vision and strategy?
· When I have an overseeing role, do I exercise sufficient oversight?
· When I have an overseeing role, do I interfere too much in the actual work?
· Do I delegate enough—what happens when I do not?
· Do I delegate too much—what happens when I do?
· Do I take on too much because I do not trust others will do the job properly or at all?
· Activities of different natures need to be separately incorporated to avoid concentration of executive power and because of the difficulty of finding directors who are capable in diverse domains.
· Such activities also need to be run like corporations, with a chief executive and other directors and staffs, with clarity of responsibility and authority.
· Board members cannot act as directors, since directors, to be effective, need to be fully available for close and continuous supervision; board members are volunteers who are available only intermittently.
· The Board therefore act like a supervisory board or holding company—they appoint executive directors to run the daily affairs and supervise these directors over time.
· This frees up their time and attention for matters of overall policy, finance, group relations, public relations, and leadership—in these matters, the Board is expected skilfully to plan, manage, and execute.
· Reserve funds remain under the control of the trustees; working capital remains under the control of the executive corporations.
'Long experience has now proved that our Board as a whole must devote itself almost exclusively to the larger and more serious questions of policy, finance, group relations, public relations and leadership that constantly confront it. In these more critical matters, the Board must of course function with great care and deliberation. Here the Board is expected skilfully to plan, manage, and execute.
It follows, therefore, that the close attention of the Board to such large problems must not be subject to constant distraction and interference. Our Trustees, as a body, cannot be burdened with a mass of lesser matters; they must not concern themselves with the endless questions and difficulties which arise daily, weekly, and monthly in the routine conduct of the World Service Office and of our publishing enterprises. In these areas the Board cannot possibly manage and conduct in detail; it must delegate its executive function.' (Bill W.'s essays on the Twelve Concepts)