Fascinating! Revelatory! Intriguing!
Really enjoyed reading about Ginkgo. This is one of the more unique posts I’ve read thus far. While it’s clear that Ginkgo is creating a great deal of societal value via automation, I think it’s also interesting to consider the value that’s being lost – e.g. salary and benefits for scientists and lab technicians that may be displaced as a result of this new model.
It’s an interesting question to consider across fields/industries — my hope is that as technology progresses the role of humans will evolve to focus on higher-value add activities, but we must recognize that the transitions might not always be clean and easy. In the face of increasing automation, we as a society will need to think carefully about how we retrain/refocus talent in order to minimize the financial impact on individuals and families. Thanks again for sharing!
Charlie – thanks to your fiancee for the super important work she does at Brooke!
Just wanted to quickly weigh in with thoughts on the “charter school skimming” debate (one of the more controversial debates in education reform these days!) It is true that most charter organizations use a lottery system to select students and most Boston charters serve very high proportions (if not 100%) of “free and reduced lunch” students. That said, I believe LaToya is also correct in that many charters are not equipped with the appropriate infrastructure to teach students with severe disabilities. As a result, some charters are forced to turn away a small segment of special education students. I’m not certain of Brooke’s special education capabilities (you and your fiancee definitely know better than I) but I know this is the case in other charter schools.
Thanks for writing about Brooke, Chelsea! I loved reading about the education sector as viewed through an operational lens (I think the U.S. education delivery model is ripe for improvement).
I agree that 1) a high quality teacher is the most important lever you can pull in improving student achievement and 2) that Brooke is at the forefront of addressing the retention issues that have plagued so many other high-performing charter networks.
That said, I have the same concern LaToya has: scale. How does Brooke (or the education sector more broadly) extend this model to more public school students? Such a labor intensive operating model only works if there is consistent access to high quality teachers. If Brooke wants to expand the model, it seems they should think systemically about how they help increase the number of talented individuals entering the teaching force and how they improve teacher preparatory programs.
Thanks again – really enjoyed this post!
Ita! Thanks for a great post. That video was fascinating — the value that Amazon has created for customers is truly unparalleled. I was picking up a package in the mail center at HBS the other day and realized that about 90% of the boxes piled up against the wall displayed the familiar Amazon label. People (including myself) continue to purchase more and more everyday items from Amazon due in large part to their effective delivery services.
That said, Amazon has also faced numerous charges of mistreating their employees (both warehouse workers and those at corporate headquarters). I’ve listed a couple of related news articles below which contain additional detail. This makes me wonder if their operating model is predicated on what has been called a “ruthless” and “oppressive” work culture. I agree that Amazon has done a great job of creating and capturing value for shareholders, customers, vendors, and distributors but it’s not clear they’ve done the same for their workers!
Anyways, I thought it was interesting to think about the trade-offs in terms of WHICH actors capture the value that a company creates. Thanks again for a really interesting overview of a company we use so frequently!
Thanks so much for this overview of Bridge, Ziyaad. I’m super fascinated in the ability for improved operations (+technology) to impact the education delivery model. I’m sure you’re already familiar with AltSchool based in San Francisco, but if not I recommend you check them out – they’re implementing a model similar to Bridge.
I’m super excited about the potential for Bridge – I think barriers to innovation are lower in the developing world which will make it easier for them to scale. However my big question for Bridge relates to consistent access to high quality teachers. Much of the Gates Foundation recent research posits that the number one most important factor in a child’s education is the quality of their teacher. I understand that technology can help high quality teachers teach more students and that automation and data-driven decision making can make teachers lives easier. However, you can only automate this very critical job to a certain extent. Thus, given that people are such a critical component of this operating model I do think Bridge’s big challenge will be accessing enough excellent teachers as they scale.
Thanks again for a fascinating post!