Bold Strokes

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On December 1, 2017, Bold Strokes commented on Climate Change is No Walk in the National Parks :

Climate change has a magnified impact on NPS compared to for profit businesses because: 1) National Parks are usually natural, vast swathes of land where human cultivation is almost always impractical, and climate change affects the parks in a very direct way: the feedback loop is very short. 2) Being no-for-profit, NPS does not have the resources which other businesses are able to muster in responding to the effects of climate change. NPS therefore has to think outside of the box in formulating its own response:

I think that the NPS has no other choice but to focus on both adaptation and mitigation as it looks forward in its response to the threat of climate change. To add to some of the other suggestions provided above, I think the NPS should proactively engage with the scientific community and work together on scientific ways to limit and slow the pace of climate change in its parks. NPS should also play its small part in the global cause against climate change by reducing its own carbon footprint, using its leverage with the public to communicate good values that protect the planet and partnering with organizations in the private and public sector to invest in conservation and reforestation in areas that have been rampaged to ease the pressure on the environment.

On December 1, 2017, Bold Strokes commented on Ben & Jerry’s Should Be More Cocoa for Cocoa Sustainability :

Of all the issues firms are having to grapple with, climate change appears to me to be one of those issues where hope is hard to come by. I agree with you on the actions Ben and Jerry’s should take in mitigation and adaptation. As you rightly allude to, mitigation alone will not be enough in the context of Ben and Jerry’s as a single firm. However, there is hope that collectively, firms and governments will awaken to this very real threat and work in concert at a time (hopefully in the very near future) and agree on some strong, coordinated measures to reverse or at least slow the pace of climate change.

Ben and Jerry’s can definitely continue in its advocacy and education efforts. I also think one of Ben and Jerry’s easiest ways to contribute is to convince the Unilever group to pool its resources as a major global brand, and thereby have a more focused, more effective impact on stemming the tide.

When it comes to adaptation, I think Ben and Jerry’s can pursue one or a combination of the following:
– Assisting farmers in its major supplier countries with education of farming practices that are more suitable in a world of rising temperatures.
– Reevaluating its supply chain and possibly diversifying or consolidating its supply chain so it increases its own bargaining power in a world of rising prices.
– Vertical integration: Ben and Jerry’s may consider investing in farming land as part of a long term plan to control costs.
– Ben and Jerry’s could also co-invest with its suppliers to create more sustainable, more resilient supply chains.

Thank you for the eye-opening post. It has given me a lot to think about.

Thank you for writing on this. I am one of the many who share a concern over the future of work given the growing trend in machine learning and AI. I personally think, as you allude to, that the biggest risk facing Samasource in the long term is whether the types of skills their employees have are going to be relevant going forward, and I think the owners should take a strategic view of how they are going to skill up their workers or respond to the opportunity presented by the rapid changes in information technology.

In the short term I think the company has to seriously consider process and value engineering, with a focus on being lean by cutting down unnecessary costs and bringing up efficiencies. In the mid to long term the company should assess the opportunities in the broader market for skills outsourcing, to be able to provide a skilled laborforce at affordable rates to the organization’s clients.

Very insightful opinion piece Destiny! I appreciated reading this article as I got to learn a bit about an interesting industry. I agree with all three comments above and would just like to add my answers to the questions you posed:

Firstly, I do not think it is presently feasible to roll out 3-D printing to a lot of the industrial applications. As you rightly point out, it is very useful for manufacturing smaller parts, which require lighter materials and do not have to endure too much pressure (heat, friction, etc). The majority of processes in the oil and gas industry are exactly the kind that you cannot manufacture with delicate materials.

To your second question, I think it is a matter of survival for oil and gas companies to more effectively manage their cost structure down (especially in this low price environment). This is especially true for U.S. companies where exploration and production costs are significantly higher than for other oil producers. And as stated in the above comments, companies are already making investments to reduce the costs of operating.

Lastly, I think the 3-D industry will develop to a point where specialized companies with requisite scale will dominate the market, although I also think there is an opportunity for some operators to carry out their manufacturing in-house, if it makes sense scale-wise, as there are really no significant barriers to entry into the 3D printing industry at the moment (1)

(1) Fragmentation in the 3D printing industry will augment its growth.

Great article! I would just like to respond to your final questions on whether Schneider should partner with Amazon.

I think the fragmentation in the trucking industry is unsustainable and many small players may be facing veritable threats from bigger players going forward, as consolidation catches up to the trucking industry as well. At present, there are very few barriers to entry for the trucking industry, but as you mention, customer demands are only getting more complicated and customized and this will require larger players with sizeable investments and capabilities in data management and bigger fleets to be able to respond to this changing customer demand. Secondly, the continued unabated growth of e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and the increasing consolidation in that field will inevitably necessitate a few players with enough scale to be able to serve giants such as Amazon. Amazon will likely more and more move towards larger trucking providers that will be able to fulfill their needs in a more seamless, integrated way.

As regards partnering with firms like Tesla, I think there is an opportunity for partnership but I believe it may be a lot further in the future than currently envisaged, mainly by Tesla itself. Schneider should definitely be looking at the possibility of partnering but should also have its own strategy in place going forward as the autonomous truck space is still frontier territory and not many people have a strong sense of what it would look like. There is a white space for companies like Schneider to be innovative in their own right, whether it will invest in their own technologies or seek to partner with other innovators in the space, including Tesla, as a long term strategy action.

Very interesting subject and great write up to read. I agree with Yin Gao’s comments above, and would also like to add that in my opinion, the move to protectionist policies cannot be sustainable in the long term (trade is inevitable), therefore I think EH should seek to maintain a long term focus in its businesses. However, the threats you articulate cannot be ignored, as they are real and significant threats to the business’ goals and objectives in both the short and long term. Therefore I recommend EH adopt a more holistic approach to its business model; which encompasses reaching out for dialogue and agreement with stakeholders on both sides of the Pacific, and also move to reduce its dependence on one market/geopolitical area by broadening its supply chain as much as possible and also negotiating for flexible supply arrangements. focused reassessment of EH’s strength’s, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is due because in this current environment only those businesses that are able to adapt quickly and with minimal disruption will thrive.