These are uncertain times. So uncertain that I felt the need to return to one of my first Illinois Seed News articles as a new CEO. The article is titled “A Clear Foundation” and is now going on 8 years old. I found it comforting as we face a world suffering from COVID-19. I hope you find it comforting as well. The CEO’s report will be the only report for the First Quarter 2020 Edition of the Illinois Seed News. When we are back to normal we will publish Seed Lab, Winter Farm, and departmental reports.
The word foundation is used in many ways; the foundation of a building, the Foundation class of certified seed, the foundation of an organization or institution. The term can convey strength, depth, and support as well as high standards or a singular purpose. But the foundation of an organization is not defined as when or where it was created. And it should not be a description of the work it does or the strategies it follows. An organization’s foundation is not its competencies or its goals. The foundation of an organization is in its core values.
Core values are the essential tenets that underpin an organization. These core values are the company’s soul, guiding it in good times and bad. They are essential for everyday business and for the continuous journey towards excellence. A clear picture of core values gives an organization purpose, and prevents decisions based on immediate circumstances that conflict with its core values. The organization may experience change but its core values steer the company through changes in leadership and changes in strategy.
It is the CEO’s job to communicate the organization’s core values and empower employees to follow them. How we conduct ourselves and how we interface with the industry shall always show our commitment to the core values of quality and integrity. Illinois Crop Improvement provides two main services: information and seed. Information ranges from seed certification, germinations and milling characteristics to trait tests, greenhouse bioassays and winter growouts. Illinois Crop does not own or sell seed, but our nursery, trait-introgression and small-plot services in Puerto Rico are committed to quality seed produced with integrity.
IL Crop strives to understand how the quality and integrity of our services affect your business. Our ISO/IEC 17025:2005 laboratory accreditation demonstrates our commitment to quality. But the commitment has not changed; we offer an honest assessment of purity, composition, viability and vigor for seed and grain producers. Our ETS and quality management system is also an integral part of IL Crop’s journey towards excellence. The winter farm journey is committed to accelerating the work of plant breeders, researchers and pre-foundation managers throughout the seed industry. Our commitment is also a collaborative mind-set, both in the lab and in the field, which ensures improvement is part of any change in the industry.
First and foremost IL Crop is an independent not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving agriculture. Our core values will not tell us exactly what the organization will be doing next year or in ten years. The organization may change in response to the needs of agriculture but its foundation will never shift from its core values. Illinois Crop Improvement is dedicated to quality and integrity and serves as a third-party to everyone in agriculture. Illinois Crop’s core values of quality and integrity will simply help its leaders make decisions that will not limit the opportunities of the future. I look forward to serving as IL Crop’s CEO and steward of its core values.