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Great thoughts, Garrett! Thanks for writing.

Re: 1 – Burnout is definitely issue across the ed reform sector. Compared to a typical charter where teachers are paid below-market rates, I think that UP benefits from its “in-district” status and the fact that teachers are paid on the district scale, which is higher than most charters. But money is not enough to sustain high quality talent! They also have great leadership opportunities for teachers that help with retention. Lastly, I think a lot of teachers are really driven by the mission and the fact that UP is not a typical charter – it uses a charter-like model to turnaround a struggling district school.
Re: 2- definitely a concern. UP tries to build a lot of love and positive energy in its school. UP actually sets goals around the ratio of demerits to merits that teachers should give out and it uses its data tracking system to track performance. UP is also monitoring its graduates to see how they perform as they get to HS and to college. As graduates of UP and other no excuses charter schools move through high school and college and into jobs over the next few years, it will be really interesting to see their progress and hear their reflections on how the no excuses model prepared them for the “real world.”

Thanks for the comments! I think your thoughts are spot on – I see human capital as the key barrier to their ability to scale. This is especially true as UP looks to serve students outside of the major cities (e.g., Lawrence or Springfield MA). These smaller cities don’t attract talent in the same way that Boston or NYC does. Luckily, UP isn’t the only organization that needs to recruit talent in these places. UP has started to partner with other organizations, local foundations, and city officials to develop recruiting and marketing efforts that will draw talent out to these cities. For example, a group in Springfield has engaged a real estate developer to build a new apartment complex to provide young teachers with enticing housing options.

2 other quick thoughts on talent:
1. The need for human capital is also the key driver behind their move to create residency programs for leadership and for teachers.
2. As UP continues to deliver outstanding results using this unique turnaround model, they’re building a really strong brand and reputation that attracts high quality talent.

On December 14, 2015, K.R.M. commented on AB InBev: Standardization and Cost-Efficiency :

Great post, Tom. Though I’m now convinced that InBev is an evil empire… While their operating and business models seem well aligned, as you pointed out with the Miller merger, they may face difficulties when bringing this operating model to companies they acquire. I could especially see this being the case if they acquired smaller, independent labels whose value proposition is not the same as that of InBev (quality vs. quantity/availability). Is there evidence that InBev ever destroys the value created by one of these smaller breweries? Or is there ability to scale and get a beer out to the masses a surefire success strategy?

On December 14, 2015, K.R.M. commented on Trader Joes – Innovation in the grocery business :

I’m so glad you wrote about Trader Joe’s! I think you captured their business and operating model really well. It makes a lot of sense to me that their value proposition is a “Wow experience”, as opposed to convenience or something like Walmart’s “Everyday Low Prices.” Some components of TJ’s operating model, e.g., the funky store layout, the lack of technology at the checkouts, and the high turnover of products, wouldn’t align well to a model that delivered value through convenience or consistency. But that’s not what TJ’s is going for. Thanks for sharing!

On December 14, 2015, K.R.M. commented on Panera: Winners in Fast Casual :

Great analysis, Adam. As they move more towards Panera 2.0, do you think they run the risk of undermining their attempts to be a third place, “a place that customers can trust,” or an “oasis from the rush of daily life.” A lot of the operational changes that you mentioned reduce the amount of contact that customers will have with employees. As things become more efficient, customers may lose some of the emotional connection that they have with Panera. Do you think they’re worried about that at all?

On December 14, 2015, K.R.M. commented on PARIBUS — reclaiming $$$ that stores owe YOU. :

Great write-up, Mike! Fascinating model. It seems like there’s some uncertainty associated with the value that they’re providing to consumers and that their model relies heavily on trust – trust that Paribus is not reading your emails and trust that Paribus’ algorithms will deliver you the best discounts. How do they build that trust with consumers? Do they have a more intensive on boarding process to build that consumer base or have consumers been easy to engage?