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On November 20, 2016, TCG commented on OverDrive and the Digitization of Public Libraries :

This is a really interesting article! I had no idea that publishers charged libraries so much and in various models.

Another risk for the digitization of public libraries is the potential gaming of multiple libraries. For instance, one can keep a library card when they move and still access e-books from the library unlike hard copies since they don’t have to physically be there anymore. If their current library is out of the title they are looking for, people can search other libraries for those books and be taking away the access from those who actually live in that area and racking up the cost in some cases for the library.

I had a similar concern with the effort required by the teachers. Mainly, who is watching the 12 kids that the teacher is responsible for as they are looking down at their phone/tablet to send the latest lunch/potty update. It also seems like they are relying on the time to be quite close to real time as the parents are using the app to track sleep patterns.

Going forward it might be beneficial for them to invest in technology that can send auto-updates. I also might be afraid about the privacy of the children’s data. What if the distracted teacher sends a picture of my kid, etc. to another parent?

I love the concept of updating the menu and systems based on the inventory. I do wonder how they are able to make all of this fresh food so quickly! I think the company culture of speed is enabled with the direct feedback and tracking of their process. I do agree with CC on the perception of the long line that has deterred me in the past. I recently went into Clover near MIT and the employees were really energetic and excited about helping you make your order (and also asking if you had had something before, now I know why!). I was concerned about the speed since I was heading to a meeting and they made a sandwich incredibly quickly right in front of me! So I think that once someone has tried Clover once, they won’t necessarily be deterred by the line. The question is, how can they get more customers over that first visit hurdle?

I agree the safety sensors would be a huge value-add for Clover, and many quick service restaurants as they have faced a few outbreaks that have greatly impacted their business.

On November 20, 2016, TCG commented on Athenahealth: The Quest to Unbreak Healthcare :

Athena’s business model adds a lot of value to physician practices, regardless of the ACA. I can’t imagine that they will be that impacted by a potential repeal/modification of the ACA. Bush saw the opportunity to support private practices in their billing in 1997, far before the conception of the ACA. While I do agree that a lot of their growth was due to the push to move to EHR, etc., I don’t think that the industry would like to go back to paper claims and the pain of collector overhead.

I think the longer term risk to their business model is the consolidation of private practices into larger medical groups. A lot of private practice physicians who have struggled with the challenge and costs of billing and upgrading their systems have sold their practices to larger medical groups that can support the overhead and bypass Athena.

On November 20, 2016, TCG commented on Turning the public into ‘citizen epidemiologists’ :

You bring up a really interesting concern about the censorship from governments. I might also be concerned about if the public gets ahold of HealthMap data for something that the government has attempted to censor and HealthMap then potentially losing credibility. Also, I wonder if the public would be best to get the initial output directly from HealthMap or if they should see more of a “curated” view that comes from public health officials that helps to explain the risks and what it means for the public. I agree that information can be powerful and help to avoid the spread of epidemics, but it could also potentially create unnecessary public fear as they don’t understand how to interpret the risk factors/epidemiology.

On November 7, 2016, TCG commented on Let’s Go Fly a Kite – SkySails and Climate Change :

What an interesting idea! I never would have thought about using kites to pull huge tankers. I wonder how often they are able to use the kites and if there are certain areas/routes where it is more effective (ie downwind/reach). Nonetheless, it seems like it would be a great start to making tankers more efficient.

I also wonder if the Navy might ever look to use something like this because they would have aligned incentives (owning the ships and paying for the fuel).

The crew would have to learn to correctly project how much they could rely on the kite where they would feel safe enough to cut the fuel supply (weight) they carry to make them even more efficient/faster. If they underestimate the fuel need, they could face huge costs and delays waiting to refuel while at sea.

On November 7, 2016, TCG commented on Carbon-Cutting Is Now En Vogue :

This is an incredibly interesting post and approach taken by LVMH! I had never heard of a company setting an internal carbon price and creating their own financial impetus to change. Usually it is a government or authority who sets these rules that companies must abide by. I am surprised that they are taking such an aggressive stance toward sustainability!

I’ll be curious to see how they fare with it in the long term since it is still relatively new and early to judge. As they lower their carbon footprint, I wonder if they will continue to invest in other sustainability practices as much.

I also wonder to Yarden’s point, why haven’t they made this company-wide initiative more known?

On November 7, 2016, TCG commented on Wal-Mart: An Unexpected Leader in Sustainability :

I was surprised to hear all of Walmart’s efforts on the sustainability front. I agree with some of the cynical points of view that lots of these measures seem more like cost savings for Walmart. However, I did do some digging after reading your post and it looks like they are starting to work a lot more on the sustainability front.

To Yarden’s question, yes, they are working on food waste solutions and to donate it to the highest and best use and if it can’t be used, then to compost or turn it into animal feed. They’ve reduced food waste by 15.3% in their emerging market stores over the past 6 years.

However, I am not fully convinced they have sorted out the digital piece of their business that is aiming to compete with Amazon. I actually signed up for their 30 day trial while moving to HBS and I placed one (large) order a couple days before moving. Much to my surprise/embarrassment, about 10-15 boxes showed up, some with 1 little container of soap, etc. It seemed really wasteful and inefficient even though the boxes are recyclable.

On November 7, 2016, TCG commented on Is your fleece made of recycled plastic bottles? :

Interesting post! I personally love Patagonia and I remember their “don’t buy this” campaign.

Patagonia also has a fix it program where they will repair your items. “Patagonia employs 45 full-time repair technicians at our service center in Reno, Nevada. It’s the largest repair facility in North America—completing about 40,000 repairs per year. We’ve also teamed up with the repair experts at iFixit to create care and repair guides so you can easily do it yourself.”

But I agree with Ryan here that I’m not sure that they are fully altruistic here. I question some of their “don’t buy this” intent when they send out catalogues regularly showing off new styles and colors of the same products they have had in their line for a while. I think Ryan brings up a good idea about setting up re-sale options for those consumers who want the “unnecessary” items. They do offer a recycling program for their clothes and encourage people to “find a new home” for their items until they are finally worn out, but this puts more ownership onto the customers.

It is a fine line to walk to be able to bring these better practices into play, but I do think that they have a significant following who love to buy extraneous pieces.

I’m impressed that they have gone toward the top of the LEED metal certification level as well. I do believe that many large corporation headquarters will trend toward LEED certification as sustainability becomes more and more important in company perception. While I was at DaVita, the headquarters in Denver was built as LEED silver and was then upgraded to Gold after a few years of sustainable practices. They have another building under construction across the street that will be LEED platinum as well.

As Reilly put it, I see it as a “win-win” here and I’m not sure it matters if Related’s move is “genuine” when they are helping the environment and making a profit. I do appreciate Saurav’s point about whether or not they may do as sustainable projects in real estate development. I don’t think they would, but not because they are an “evil real estate developer” but because to compete in such a space would be difficult to financially manage because I’m guessing that the demand for sustainable buildings isn’t there yet.

I love the idea of green retrofitting! I think some things are easier to retrofit than others; such as shower heads, compost/recycle areas, lights, etc. Some of the other upgrades may create the issues others noted above but it seems that Related could work around those challenges and the owners of the buildings would also benefit from the cost savings in the long term.