Framework 101 12 Steps and 12 Traditions (Alcoholics Anonymous - AA)


One of the most successful, enduring movements to change behaviours is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It started in the 1950s in USA.

It has 12 steps and 12 traditions as a basis for changing people's behaviours who are "uncontrollable" alcoholics.

It has a strong religious foundations; with the underlying concept being the person realises they are an alcoholic, need help and have a desire to change.

The key elements are summarised

"...- admitting that one cannot control one's alcoholism, addiction or compulsion;

    - coming to believe in a higher power that can give strength;

    - examining past errors with the help of a sponsor (experienced member);

    - making amends for these errors;

    - learning to live a new life with a new code of behaviour;

    - helping others who suffer the same alcoholism, addiction or compulsion..."

American Psychological Association as quoted by Wikipedia, 2020a

It is a 3-dimensional approach, ie

i) physical (an allergy-like bodily reaction resulting in the compulsion to continue using substances after the initial use)

ii) mental (cognitive processes that cause the individual to repeat compulsive behaviour even after periods of abstinence; acknowledging that the results of this repeating will be an inability to stop, or acknowledging they would be operating under the illusion that the result will be different)

iii) spiritual (replace self-centredness with a growing moral consciousness and willingness to self-sacrifice and take unselfish constructive action; some steps and traditions incorporate religious concepts like confession, penitence, purification, salvation, etc)

Addicts are encouraged to link with another addict as a sponsor who is further down the recovery path and is willing to share their story. The relationship with the sponsor

" based on spiritual principles, it is unique and not generally characterised as 'friendship'. Fundamentally, the sponsor has a single purpose of helping the sponsee recover from the behaviourial problem that brought the Issufferer into the 12 step framework, which reflexively helps the sponsor recover..."

Wikipedia, 2020a

Over 200 self-help organisations use the same approach. For example, 'Weight Watchers' use this as the basis to help people lose weight.

We have modified 12 steps and 12 traditions to suit an organisation and its staff.

Steps (12)

1. Understand we have limited power and some things are beyond our control, ie personal powerlessness

2. Make a decision to focus on a greater cause than yourself, ie move beyond self-interest

3. Be vulnerable, ie allow people to know you, and realise the need and urgency to change

4. Understand yourself, your colleagues and your organisation's strengths and weaknesses

5. Be aware of areas that need improving in both the organisation and people

6. Be willing to remove and/or change obstacles (including behaviours) to the change

7. Be humble in your approach to people

8. Understand why past changes have negatively impacted people

9. Rectify past mistakes

10. Continually self-reflect and identify areas that need improvement

11. Explore techniques to improve the change process and its outcome(s)

12. Consolidate the above steps and continually monitor and evaluate performance

Traditions (12)

1. Organisation's common welfare and unity takes preference over personal matters

2. For our group's purpose, focus on purpose greater than self

3. Stop bad behaviours

4. Encourage autonomy except when matters affect others in the organisation

5. Help those who need help

6. The organisation not to deviate from its primary purpose despite how attractive the alternatives might be

7. Each group to be fully self-sustaining (including support and funding)

8. Be willing to employ outside expertise whenever required

9. Primary focus is on those stakeholders who you serve, like customers, staff, etc

10. Keep away from public controversies that are not impacting your business

11. Public relations is based on attraction rather than promotion plus prefer maintaining personal confidentiality and anonymity, especially in public media

12. Place principles, values, etc ahead of personalities


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