In the 1984 annual report, the company referred to increasing competitive pressures and the need to provide for more value per dollar to the customer. The ways that the company proposed to achieve this seemed to revolve around the "technological fix" with references to use of robotics and increased efficiency in operations. Quality was beginning to be recognized as important in design, manufacturing, and in meeting customer needs for reliability in the forestry equipment line.
In the 1987 report, an emphasis on quality seemed to be developing, even though cost-reduction and value to the customer continued as an underlying theme. The "total value" concept of quality, reliability, dealer support, financing plans, and resale value was defined.
In 1989, corporate values such as integrity, quality and value of products and services, and corporate image in the marketplace was the focus. Value-added features and an independent dealer network were mentioned.
In 1995, the report focused on continuous improvement. Teamwork, common goals, and productivity improvement was also tied into the continuous improvement theme. The company began using a team-based compensation system centered on continuous improvement in productivity. The annual report pointed to financial metrics that were reportedly tied into continuous improvement efforts.
In 1996, the continuous improvement theme was carried forward, with an additional goal of profitable growth. Continuous improvement was said to embody innovation, efficiency, effective business processes, and a passion for excellence. Profitable growth was to be pursued through the global pursuit of new markets and products. It was stated that a strong company-wide total quality program was yielding improved customer responsiveness, shortened cycle times, and reductions in cost and asset level.
In 1999, the themes of continuous improvement, profitable growth, and business innovation continued to be dominant. The continuous improvement area featured six sigma quality goals for performance and customer satisfaction. It was mentioned that during the year some 900 projects involving several thousand employees had been carried out. These six sigma projects had the objectives of streamlining business processes, focusing on customers, and structuring around core processes.
In 2003, the emphasis was on human resources with a new compensation and rewards system, to support the attainment of goals and promoting alignment among the interests of customers, employees and investors. Thousands of management employees at all levels were made eligible for a bonus payable based on service to customers over a multi-year period.
In 2005, Deere employees were aligned with business objectives and evaluated and compensated accordingly. Most salaried employees worldwide follow detailed, tailored performance plans that spell out how each individual's efforts contribute to meeting unit and company goals. Also stewardship of the environment was emphasized, pointing to how the company developed product solutions that were less disruptive to the surrounding environment, such as the John Deere 2500 E greens