John Deere has certainly earned its place among the worlds most admired companies (Anne VanderMey, Worlds Most Admired Companies: Industry LeadersJohn Deere Plows Ahead Fortune, 2/25/13, p. 19). The agricultural equipment manufacturer is doing a lot of things right, from which we can all learn a few lessons:
1Leadership Consistency. As VanderMey reports, John Deere, has seen just nine CEOs in its 176-year history. I am not saying special situations never exist in which a short-term leader is needed for a fast corporate correction. Nevertheless, with wise organizational-development principles, sound strategy, and excellent talent management, a company will tend to perform better if it has leadership consistency.
2Research And Development Focus. Repeatedly I see the companies that tend to excel are the companies that tend to place a high priority on R&D. Without reinvesting some of your profits back into your creative process, you are ensuring your obsolescence. VanderMey points out, Deere spends more on innovation: About 4% of its annual revenue goes to R&D, vs. the roughly 3% spent by its two closest competitors.
3Customer Connection. John Deere has been known for its strong customer loyalty. Its sales representatives are more than just sales staff; they become trusted advisors. Those dynamics are what build excellent customer loyalty. With a 50% market share, and 65,000 employees, John Deere should enjoy many future bountiful harvests.
Regardless of your market or industry, relook at your leadership approach, your R&D commitment, and your customer-connection philosophy. If you can make improvements in these three areas, then you will find a winning formula for your organizations success.
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