CPG Manufacturing Fan

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On December 1, 2017, CPG Manufacturing Fan commented on Made in America? Ford Motor Company’s Battles with Isolationism :

Jeff – great post! You’ve presented a complex issues in a very digestible way. I also really appreciated the inclusion of the video. You highlight how changes to trade policy can have unintended consequences – namely Ford moving production to China to avoid dealing with potential new regulatory requirements that were intended to keep more jobs in the U.S. Ironically, China is also a hot topic in the trade discussion these days and there is a lot of uncertainty around what trade conditions will be going forward. I’m curious to learn more about how a company like Ford makes big stakes decisions like where to invest in the midst of so much uncertainty… not an easy job!

As for the discussion on autonomous vehicles, similar to “WhitneyQ,” I agree that manufacturing autonomous cars must be top of mind for Ford given the industry’s optimism that the capabilities will be mainstream in the near future. I’d love to hear more about how you think the switch to manufacturing autonomous vehicles will change the supply chain for Ford. On the surface it appears much could remain the same – the physical car still needs to be built even if a machine is at the wheel instead of a human. I don’t think I’m quite as confident that we’ll see massive swings in Ford investments in places like Pittsburg and San Francisco instead of their current manufacturing spots like China and Mexico.

On December 1, 2017, CPG Manufacturing Fan commented on Good Tariffs Make Good Neighbors? :

DC – as someone who’s only mildly familiar with the steel industry and the impacts protectionism has on it, I found this piece insightful and accessible. One line in your post really drove the blog’s thesis home for me: “ArcelorMittal’s average steel selling prices have increased by ~5% between Q1 and Q2 2017 alone [6]. However, ArcelorMittal should proceed cautiously, being thoughtful of the potential secondary and tertiary consequences of broad regulatory actions.” On the surface, it’s easy to see why a U.S. steel company would approve of Trump’s memorandum to protect the domestic steel industry. However, the answer is not that simple. In a world where many domestic producers have facilities and customers outside the U.S. that may stand to lose from protectionism, protectionism can really be a double-edged sword. I would love to see a follow up blog post that goes into the calculus of how a company determines its stance on protectionism and information on how much money companies like ArcelorMittal are spending trying to influence trade policy. I agree with many of the other comments that AM supporting protectionism may be short sighted. Finally, taking a step back, ironically what’s arguably the most important consideration – the impact of protectionism on the overall U.S. and global economy – will likely be under weighted in a company’s calculus as companies will look at the direct impacts on their business.

On December 1, 2017, CPG Manufacturing Fan commented on Fall Without Pumpkin Spice Lattes? It Could Happen :

SEA – as a lover of pumpkin spice lattes, this post really jumped out at me! Some great insights here. I really appreciate that Starbucks is not just being reactionary to the impacts of climate change, but is actually taking a stance and trying to slow climate change by reducing its own impacts on the climate.

In terms of what else Starbucks can do to protect its business, developing technologies and working with farmers to develop ways to grow coffee in more extreme climates is definitely a big part of the solution. In addition to helping Starbucks secure coffee for customers, this type of work can help coffee farmers maintain their jobs… something that’s critical for the people and economies of “bean belt” as you mention towards the end of your post.

Finally, I appreciate your innovative idea for Starbucks to decorate cups with facts about climate change and ways consumers can help slow the process. While I’m skeptical of how much it would move the needle in the fight against climate change, since Starbucks already does print words / images on their cups, I see this coming at a very low cost to the company. And at this rate, any bit of improvement is positive!

On December 1, 2017, CPG Manufacturing Fan commented on The End of Consulting as We Know It? :

Kate – great post! Very interesting to read about how digitization is changing the consulting game. I agree with your recommendation that consulting firms should pay heed to the challenges and ensure that they are evolving to stay relevant. Your point on customers using new methodologies to track and measure the impact of the consultants they hire is well taken. I’ve seen the consulting industry start addressing this concern by changing their fee structure and introducing more contracts where fees are at stake / contingent on the project meeting specific success factors (e.g., increasing revenue by X%).

The examples of how IDEO is changing makes this post very tangible. I’m particularly interested in IDEO U, the online school. I would love to see pricing information and more details on their go to market strategy.

Finally, I appreciate your point that IDEO should continue to build out its ecosystem of partners. The more it is able to do this the better it will be able to react to a changing landscape and provide holistic solutions to its clients. If you could advise IDEO, what types of partners would you encourage it to approach?

On December 1, 2017, CPG Manufacturing Fan commented on Fighting Malthus’s Prediction in the New Millennium :

Adam – well done. Very interesting and sobering piece about how climate change is impacting global food security. The line that struck me most came at the end of the first section: “This will primarily hurt those in developing countries, who in a sad irony have contributed the least to climate change, yet stand to lose the most [11].” Very sad but true.

I agree with your conclusion that we need to address climate change if we want to have a handle on feeding the world’s population. Ironically, it seems that most of FAO’s focus is “reactionary” to climate change – e.g., helping farmers adapt to the environmental changes. While I applaud the FAO’s efforts and the fact that they are putting 25% of their budget behind this, I worry that their plans do not address the root causes of climate change. I wonder if their efforts are sufficient… Will they be able to meet their aggressive goal of eliminating world hunger by 2030? Something I’d love to have seen included in the piece is an explanation of how the FAO is measuring success of these programs and how well the programs are performing to date.

Finally, I love your point that the FAO should work to reduce emissions in the global supply chain. This is exactly the type of proactive approach I’d like to see them take!

On November 26, 2017, CPG Manufacturing Fan commented on Walmart: It’s my party and I can cry if I want to :

Very interesting to read about the ways Walmart is “going digital” and shifting to accommodate the online customer. Niko has done a great job of outlining three main efforts: (1) acquiring ecommerce players, (2) investing in fulfillment centers that cater to e-commerce vs. B&M fulfillment (they’re different!), and (3) providing online/offline hybrid services. As Walmart makes these investments, it raises the question: will the customer follow? Niko suggests that Walmart should think about ways to convert in-store customers to online users, but will this be enough? I think RoundRobin nails it with her comment on the importance of building brand awareness online as Walmart has done with B&M. It will take more than just shifting customers from B&M to online (especially with the large cannibalization impact) for Walmart to be successful. How will it capture customers from Amazon? And how will it get out ahead of Amazon and capture net new customers who are coming online?