When John Deere announced its new operating strategy one year ago, it came at a challenging time with the COVID-19 pandemic presenting many obstacles and unknowns.
It took leadership at every level of the company to commit to Deere's smart industrial vision, which places customers at the center of everything we do, said Deanna Kovar, vice president of Production & Precision Ag Production Systems.
"It has literally taken leadership from top to bottom. Not only did we transform the organization, we did it while part of our organization was working in really stressful situations in our production facilities to keep employees safe during the pandemic and the other part of our organization was working remotely from home," Kovar said.
Kovar said empowering employees to lead was a critical factor in why the company proceeded with executing the new strategy when it did.
"We trusted employees to grasp concepts quickly and then execute on them," Kovar said. "We needed their leadership to live up to the principles of smart industrial, empowering them to make decisions. It allowed employees to challenge how we've traditionally done things, to ensure when we come out of this transition, we are different."
We needed their leadership to live up to the principles of smart industrial, empowering them to make decisions. It allowed employees to challenge how we've traditionally done things, to ensure when we come out of this transition, we are different.
Deere's efforts since June of 2020 when the new operating model was announced have resulted in the company being recognized in the first annual Indiggo Return On Leadership® ROL100™ ranking in partnership with Fortune magazine. Deere placed 20th on the ROL100 list.
ROL is a key indicator of how well a company is positioned for future success, and a measure of its progress toward achieving Stakeholder Capitalism.
The ROL metric is based on four fundamentals: Connection to Purpose, Strategic Clarity, Leadership Alignment and Focused Action. To calculate the ROL100 ranking, each of the four fundamentals was evaluated by a team of experts, leveraging AI, and based on information publicly available to all stakeholders.
Kovar said the impact of Smart Industrial can be seen in Deere technology like ExactRate™, which debuted earlier this year. ExactRate is a total solution that innovates at the production system level for farmers. It includes a planter option that precisely monitors and controls the application of liquid fertilizer during planting. Combined with tractor technology it makes timely application of fertilizer at planting possible without sacrificing efficiency or soil health.
"We know economically and ecologically we're better served if we put fertilizer on at planting," Kovar said. "ExactRate allows farmers to benefit from applied fertilizer without all the logistical problems they would have had prior".
"Before the new operating model, it was harder to prioritize the farmer's needs and step back and think about it at the system level. We're confident we will do that more going forward. Our teams are focused on the customer's whole system, both economic and environmental productivity."