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(A) Executive Function

As we focus on a sample of secondary functions within the SSI eco system, we are discussing functions, not people. A function is a set of related tasks or activities to accomplish. There are people whose responsibility is to do the work, but the people and the function are not synonymous. For example, the Executive Function is not defined by whatever the SSI CEO decides to do; and what he (or she) does is not necessarily Executive Function work. With this distinction in mind, we consider a few sub-functions within the Executive Function.

Before we proceed, though, a cautionary note is in order. The actions and decisions of executive leaders within the agency are not value neutral. “Leaders in human services have administrative and moral responsibility for the decisions, policies, and practices that occur within their organizations. They determine the organizational requirements and are affected by them. The organizational requirements in turn affect all others…. The potential for harm and good exist as a result of actions and decisions by leaders within the bureaucratic structure.” (Manning, 2003, p. 178) As we discuss functions within SSI, please do not lose the perspective that each decision, each action, each choice has a moral, ethical dimension that must never be overlooked or shortchanged. Doing things right must never become more important than doing what’s right. With that commitment firmly in mind, let’s consider the Executive Function.

SSI is headed by an administrative Board comprised of nine people who volunteer their time and talents to govern SSI. All executive and administrative accountability, responsibility, and authority are vested in the Board. The Board, in turn, delegates a substantial portion of its accountability, responsibility, and authority to the SSI CEO. Additionally, it develops policies to direct what the Board expects from the agency, including any limitations or restrictions the Board chooses to impose. “Directing an organization can be like rearing a child. Controlling every behavior is a fatiguing and ultimately impossible charge. Inculcating the policies of life is far more effective; and even if some slippage occurs on individual behaviors, it is the only serviceable approach in the long run. …whether a Board wishes to control narrowly or to lead more expansively, governing through policies is the efficient way to operate.” (Carver, 1997, p. 42) The SSI CEO is, in turn, charged with implementing the SSI Board policies. Although he may advise the Board about its policies, development and adoption of the policies are exclusively Board Functions and their implementation is exclusively an Executive Function. “The Board is not responsible for managing but it surely can be responsible for governing.” (Carver, 1997, p. 46)

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