Thick, heavy, dusty volumes have been written about change. And, frankly, I have nothing new to add. Scary. Inevitable. Exhilarating. Change happens.
Organizations experience continual change. New employees join the fold. Areas of programming evolve. And sometimes – ever so rarely – there's a shift so profound that it earns its own display case in the company museum.
Welcome to last spring. The run-up to the announcement of our transition from the Noble Foundation to the Noble Research Institute resembled The Flash in fast forward. More than just activity, we understood the magnitude of our efforts; we were stitching together a historic moment.
Becoming the Noble Research Institute undoubtedly will open new opportunities and reap great benefits in the future. Still, standing on the edge of the unknown inevitably evokes some hesitation. Looking at the changes on paper, there really was no downside. But what were those unforeseen outcomes? How would it change us?
I found my answer in the cafeteria a few days after the announcement. Janice Pierce, one of our food service assistants, greeted me with the same warm smile and phrase as she has for the last decade. "How are you today, fine sir?" she asked. You just can't help but smile when Janice calls you "fine sir." Those words are but a single thread (kindness) in our organizational tapestry, but they exemplify the unshakable spirit of Noble.
As I walked through the ensuing weeks, interaction after interaction revealed thread after thread.
Despite the fact he's a vice president, Steve Rhines continues to jump out of corners to scare me. He thinks it's hysterical, and so do I (thread: humor and fun).
Every meeting, every time you cross paths with Hugh Aljoe he extends a vise-grip handshake and friendly greeting because he's a real cowboy right down to the manners (thread: courtesy and integrity).
Rick Wallace, one of our greenhouse operation specialists, and I play Monday morning quarterback almost every week, bemoaning or praising our beloved Dallas Cowboys (thread: camaraderie).
Jeff Moen walks around offering energetic high-fives every Friday while saying "It's a great day to be Noble," (thread: passion).
And the list goes on and on through every laboratory and office. Person after person representing another thread, all woven together into this remarkable place we call Noble.
See, we may change legal structure and branding, programs and projects, but the spirit of this organization remains rooted in our mission and the people who breathe life into it.
Noble is, has and always will be dedicated to providing solutions to great agricultural challenges. We have followed this singular vision since our founder, Lloyd Noble, endowed this great organization 72 years ago. We have changed tactics for achieving milestones, but the destination has remained the same.
Each generation brings change, but a belief in the integrity of our pursuit generates an energy that permeates every person here.
We have become the Noble Research Institute. That was the next step. We took it. But our purpose and our spirit remain the same.
Some things will never change. And that's one of them.