Concerning Environmental Sensitivity: Where Does Responsibility Fall?

Bill Hoffman – owner of Aptos Jewelers
Click the above image to be taken to the New York Times article associated with this post.

As students in an operational management class, we study all issues involved with operating a business.  We are taught that operating in an ethical manner is paramount and all-encompassing.  That an organization’s leaders must be cognizant of the impact their decisions have internally and externally – specifically in regard to the environment.  The article used for this post describes what happens when the government forces businesses to function in a certain way.  I found this article intriguing and in reading it, I found myself extremely conflicted.  Below is a brief synopsis.


More than two-dozen cities in California have enacted a ban on the use of plastic shopping bags and have begun charging between 5 to 10 cents to use a paper bag.  The movement has created a divide between shop owners like Bill Hoffman – owner of Aptos Jewelers in Aptos, California – and their counties.   Hoffman, who has been one of the more vocal opponents of the regulation, feels that charging his customers (who are often spending thousands in his store) for paper bags is crass.  Hoffman also is of the belief that the way he packages his product is part of the experience he offers.  He is offering a high-end product that requires high-end packaging.  After filing with Santa Cruz County for an exemption from the ordinance, Hoffman was turned down.

The push toward reusable bags has also upset the plastics industry, which is pursuing legal action against counties in California that have enacted a plastic bag ban.  Industry representatives claim that there is insufficient evidence to support that banning plastic bags will have any drastic impact on the environment.

Stephen Joseph, who is the primary voice and attorney for the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, has argued that bans in cities that have a high tourist presence (such as San Francisco – which is initiating a plastic bag ban this month) will be particularly ineffective because tourists typically don’t travel with reusable shopping bags.  This has led Joseph to deduce that tourists will begin buying reusable plastic bags when they arrive in a location, and will dispose of them upon their departure.  This, of course, would make a huge dent in the purpose of the ban.

When questioned, many consumers voiced a frustration with the ban/paper bag charge, but expressed that it’s ultimately necessary.*

Questions to consider:

  • How do you feel about a movement of this type?
  • Should the government step in and ban materials that are harmful to the environment?
  • Should it be up to the business owner to ensure he/she is operating his/her business in an environmentally responsible manner?
  • Should consumers take the responsibility?


* The information provided in this post was drawn from the following New York Times article:

Strategic Importance of Forecasting and Keys to better Forecasting

Since this week we are learning about forecasting so I read an article about it. Forecasting is extremely important for any business from a strategy point of view because having inventory (whether physical or product) at the right time is essential for making profits. A business must buy right amount of raw materials to produce right amount of goods for consumers. If this is not the case then either the business will not be able to serve the customer due to shortage or will have to hold extra products and incur storage costs.

Many companies do not understand the strategic importance of forecasting. Having the right resources available at the right time is essential for efficient functioning. In today’s tough business environment where businesses are trying to save costs it is needed that every penny is saved. Forecasting is one way to save costs as from forecasting only companies can guess the future demand and can manage their resource accordingly. Any mismanagement in forecasting can lead to great loss in both small and large businesses.

All large companies use forecasting when formulating their strategy because without it no decisions can be made. It is true that no one can predict the future accurately but forecasting can give a general idea about future on which present decisions can be made. Forecasting is therefore an important strategic tool for all businesses.

In the article ‘7 keys to better forecasting’ the authors have stressed the importance of forecasting and have given 7 suggestions to make better forecasting decisions (Moon, et al. 45). The article also argues that better forecasting can increase the financial health of a firm significantly (44).

The first key to better forecasting is to understand what is forecasting. The article suggests that forecasting should not be viewed as a computer program but as a management process. The second key to better forecasting is to forecast demand and then plan supply. Many firms restrict their supply forecasts to their capacity. This is not a good practice according to the article as first firms should forecast demand of the product and then plan supply.

The third key is to communicate, cooperate, and collaborate because forecasting involves input from all levels of organization. The fourth key is to not waste time on redundant activities. There are some activities that are performed by many departments and this should not happen because valuable time and effort is wasted on these activities and they do not add value to the firm.

The fifth key to better forecasting is to use tools of forecasting wisely (Moon, et al. 45). Some companies rely on qualitative tools too much and ignore quantitative tools of forecasting. A balance should be maintained between the two tools in order to predict future demand better. The sixth key is to make forecasting important by making people who are involved responsible for their decisions. The seventh and the last key to better forecasting as discussed by the article is to measure performance, feedbacks, and standards (Moon, et al. 45). All these suggestions can improve the forecasting in a firm.

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Works Cited
Moon, M. A., Mentzer, J. T., Smith, C. D., & Garver, M. S. Seven keys to better forecasting. Business Horizons, 44–52, (1998)