In a recent interview with The Industrialist, Vice President of Global Supply Management & Logistics at John Deere, Wallas Wiggins, talked about innovation and lessons learned through ongoing supply chain issues.

Wiggins says in the interview he believes there's a lot of innovation among suppliers, saying, "I want to focus on ensuring we harvest that innovation from suppliers and translate it into benefits for customers, in order to further differentiate ourselves." He adds that, working in the "indirect space," he's seen how innovation is not always about products and can be found in processes and people.

When asked what lessons he's learned in the past year, Wiggins mentions being open-minded and preparing for the future as essential tools in Deere's management of its supply chain and for Wiggins himself. 

"We’re doing all kinds of things we never had to do before, and being flexible becomes important, because we’ve got lots of standard processes," he says. "Our Smart Industrial Operating Model has enabled thinking outside the box and reminded us that understanding the required result is extremely important. With a clear result in mind we may find a way to get there faster or more efficiently."

Wiggins adds that Deere being "relationship-oriented" has paid off in a big way, saying he's learned a lot more about Deere's suppliers.

When asked what he's doing to improve Deere's competitiveness and growth agenda, Wiggins says he focuses on both traditional approaches, such as  cost reduction, and growing through market growth. He says Deere is scaling itself and its suppliers up, including doing capacity checks to ensure they can meet a growing market. Wiggins says Deere is "focused on harvesting innovation from the supplier community" in 2022, which he says involves talking with engineers and regularly sharing roadmaps with suppliers.

"We share our roadmaps with suppliers regularly and talk about the technologies we’re looking at for the near future, to see what they can do to contribute," he says. "We also ask suppliers where they see opportunities for John Deere. Often suppliers approach us to share what they’re working on and that can be a very powerful tool to generate innovation, growth and get a first mover advantage. That’s extremely important in a growth market."