Inspiring creativity in the +Impact Studio Course


Entrepreneurs, you can inspire team creativity like this.

by Jason Chao – +Impact Studio: Translating Research into Practice (BA670) allows students to promote their ideas in a comfortable and safe environment, and how to effectively persuade others. Yesterday I saw a very shy engineer speaking out about his idea. You need to understand how important a safe and diverse environment is for members of a group to have the confidence to express their opinions. In How Google Works, the author mentions that Google provides a safe environment to make mistakes. Not only do bosses allow mistakes, they actually encourage mistakes and ask employees to take chances. The result is more, higher-quality ideas.

In addition to that kind of enlightened leadership, I personally think that these other two factors are also important.

Interesting first impressions

It’s fun to relax and accept others. When I came to BA670 for the first time, the teacher warmly welcomed everyone. Before the team members introduced themselves, we were divided into groups to complete a small competition to see which team could build the highest paper tower. In the end my team came in second place (or, the third last, since there were only four teams!). This project immediately broke the ice with the other people—no one was unfamiliar–and smoothly developed good feeling about the classmates around me.  We became comrades-in-arms. (It’s also possible to hate other classmates instantly, which can ruin a semester. Luckily I think the chances of that are low in this class.)

Make the rules clear!

Set up a framework for agreement and build common interests. There are different master students on our team. Emily is in social science, Kay is a UIUX designer, Vincent is a computer programmer, and I am an MBA. The way we communicate and think differently would suggest at first glance that this group would not succeed. But we spent two hours yesterday discussing each person’s background, how they would think of ideas and how they would express them. Those with different opinions are not competing with each other. Most importantly, we all want to create a usable product in the end. After establishing our common interests, our group immediately became active, and the formerly quiet members also began to think freely.

Maybe our team is just a special case, and these intentional methods are meaningless. But I saw laughter and engaged discussion in the entire classroom. At the end of that first class, the student wouldn’t go home immediately. Everyone committed to putting their energy into this class. So I know it will be continue to be very interesting.

Read Jason Chao’s blog here

Marcus Collins Chats about Cultural Contagion in Social Impact Marketing


March 11, 2020 – Ann Arbor, Michigan – In one of the final public Ross events before its closure to the coronavirus pandemic, the Impact Studio brought together faculty director Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks and Marcus Collins for a lively discussion about the ironically named “Cultural Contagion” that forms the basis of Collins latest research.  The event took place at Ross School of Business on Wednesday, March 12th from 5-7 pm, and was live streamed.

Why do some things catch on and others don’t? How do ideas get adopted and become a part of culture? The interactive conversation focused on how brands propagate and become ingrained within cultures. He shared insight on how we can use these same levers to influence people to do good and have a positive impact on society.

Mr. Collins is parttime U-M LEO professor in Marketing and Chief Consumer Connections Officer at Doner. Previously, he led the Social Engagement practice across Steve Stoute’s New York advertising agency, Translation. There, Marcus leveraged the psychological motivators that drive what we do, say, and share to create contagious marketing programs that extend across both the online and offline world of ‘social.’


“Igniting Impact” Conference Brought together Business People and Researchers for Maximum Impact


ANN ARBOR – March 13, 2020 – Last week on March 5-6, Business+Impact at Michigan Ross sponsored a conference on business research for social impact at the Ross School of Business. “Igniting Impact: Enhancing Business Practice and Research through Greater Collaboration” was co sponsored by the Aspen Institute Business and Society program and Responsible Research in Business and Management. Focused on translating the UN Sustainable Development Goals into practical solutions to address global challenges, this conference gathered top thinkers from U-M and across the country to discuss and brainstorm ways for business and other disciplines to take responsibility for these goals.  

In the opening session, Ach Adhvaryu and Anant Nyshadham, co-founders of Good Business Lab, and corporate partner the Gap, shared their formula for using research to find a common ground between worker wellbeing and business interests, with a particular focus on factories abroad.

A dinner keynote on the first night focused on how “Uberization” is re-shaping labor markets around the world, creating greater convenience for consumers but greater precarity for workers. Panelists included Mike Bishop, former US Congressional Representative and co-president, IPSE.US (The Association of Independent Workers); Lindsey Cameron, Professor of Management, Wharton School; Carrie Leana, Professor of Management, University of Pittsburgh; Azariah Lehman, Chief Administrative Officer, iWorker Innovations. They shared what the latest research tell us about how to take on this dilemma and what new business opportunities are being created.

On the second day, the conference opened up two “Choose Your Adventure” breakout session periods, where award-winning researchers were paired with business executives to lead dialogues on pressing problems and evidence-based solutions. Brief presentations were followed by very active brainstorming sessions, where participants collaborated on specific solutions to the issues and goals stated.

That Friday, the lunch speaker, Sridhar Tayur (Carnegie Mellon University; founder, OrganJet) shared his experience in using research to transform the organ transplant industry.  And as a closers, Doug Guthrie, Apple; Christopher Marquis, SC Johnson Professor of Management, Cornell University; Xun (Brian) Wu, Professor of Strategy, Michigan Ross discussed the ongoing trade war with China and the potential risks and opportunities of doing business in China. 

Michigan Business Challenge Seigle Impact Track Winner Announced

Ann Arbor, February 24, 2020 – The winner of the 2020 Michigan Business Challenge – Seigle Impact Track is Lillian Augusta – (Jannice Newson [MS ‘20] & Nana Britwum [MS ‘20])a biodegradable hair braiding product made from Phragmites, which is an invasive plant species. The Seigle Impact Track competition, co-sponsored by the Zell Lurie InstituteBusiness+Impact, and the Erb Institute, began in November with over 50 teams. Eight semi-finalists competed on February 8 for the four finalist spots in the Seigle finals competition.

Other finalists included:

For Dearborn (4D) –  Rima Imad Fadlallah (MBA ‘20)  For Dearborn (4D) creates space for Arab and/or Muslim Americans (AAM) to self actualize and thrive through digital media, programming, fashion and philanthropy. 

HalalFin – Razeen Karim (BBA ’20), Safwaan Mir (MM ’20), Mohammad Eddir (BSE ’20), & Abrar Quazi (BSE ’20) HalalFin is developing a platform that utilizes blockchain technology, specifically cryptocurrency, to provide individuals access to Islamic-compliant banking and transacting. 

Revolin Sports – Hughes Davis (MSE ’20) Revolin Sports provides conscientious athletes with high-performance sporting equipment to help them up their game while respecting the planet. Starting with our pickleball paddle, we use our natural BioFlx Technology™ to create products that undoubtedly prove sustainability and performance are not mutually exclusive. 

Lillian Augusta received $15,000 for first place in the Seigle Impact Track, $2,000 for the MIC Investment Committee Award, and $5,000 for the One Magnify Best Business team, which was presented by Mark Petroff. For Dearborn was the Seigle Impact Track Runner-up ($7,500).  For Dearborn won a $500 Showcase Award and $1500 as a Seigle finalist, while HalalFin won $1500 as a Seigle finalist.

The expert judging panel for the Seigle Impact Track finals was comprised of:

  • Diana Callaghan – Endeavor Detroit
  • Michael Godwin – Resonant Venture Partners
  • Raymond Guthrie – Social Impact Fund, American Heart Association 

The Michigan Business Challenge is a campus-wide, multi-round business plan competition, of which the Seigle Impact Track is a subset focused on entrepreneurial student ventures focused on social  and/or environmental impact.  The competition is open to all students of the University of Michigan, and multidisciplinary teams are encouraged. 

Adrienne Harris Chats about Financial Inclusion in an Age of Fintech

February 12, 2020 – Ann Arbor, Michigan – Impact Studio faculty director Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks was on hand to engage Adrienne Harris in a lively discussion about her work in governmental and corporate strategy around financial inclusion and fintech availability to the underserved. Ms. Harris is a U-M Ford School Professor and Gates Foundation Senior Research Fellow, and also advises fintech companies, incumbent financial institutions, and large venture capital firms.  Sanchez-Burks and Harris were joined by student Gabrielle Alves, VP of Diversity and Inclusition for the Ross MBA Finance Club.

During the presentation, Ms. Harris described fintech and how it is different from simply “finance with computers.”  She clarified the challenges of the financially underserved and considered ways to bring financial inclusion to them. Given her experience working in the Obama administration and with various financial companies, her breadth of vision included levers to nudge policymakers, influencers, and government in the work of alleviating mistrust. 

Harris said, “(Finance) is emotional, it’s personal, it’s stressful, it’s all of these things and you’re basically expected to just hand it over, whether it’s the money itself or it’s our login,” Harris said. “When fintech first came along they were like, ‘We’re not the big financial institutions.’ … But that also used to be the case, sort of, with Google and Facebook, so we’ll see how this changes. I think we start off feeling trustworthy and become less so over time.” She concluded with advise to future graduates from law school or business school.

Watch the entire presentation here:

Check out Photos from the Event

In this Flickr album, we capture the action–including the panel discussion and student involvement in an active Q&A and mingling that followed.


2020 Board Fellows Forum Highlighted Relationships

What does it take to have a great relationship between a Board Chair and an Executive Director? How much should the two work hand-in-hand to lead the organization, set goals and priorities, and drive outcomes? All nonprofit organizations strive for a high-functioning relationship between the Board Chair and Executive Director, but some fall short due to a disconnect in expectations of the roles.

Students, faculty and staff joined the U-M Board Fellowship Program for a public forum discussing the Board Chair and Executive Director relationship. Panelists for the forum included:

  • Jamie Buhr, Board Chair, Michigan Theater
  • Russ Collins, Executive Director & CEO, Michigan Theater
  • Lori Bennett, Board Chair, Neutral Zone
  • Samiksha Sneha, Youth Board Chair, Neutral Zone
  • Lori Roddy, Executive Director, Neutral Zone

The forum feature the Neutral Zone and the Michigan Theater, which both are pleased with their board chair–executive director relationships. These relationships didn’t form overnight, but are built on trust. The cooperative work happens with frequent communication, respect for each other’s roles, and an equivalent sense of responsibility to each other and the organization. 

Neutral Zone, with its focus on teens, created teen board positions in order to give them a better understanding of their key stakeholders and incorporate their feedback in all decision-making. Lori Bennett noted that the teens also make for a much more fun and dynamic meetings. Lori Roddy takes charge of the day-to-day operations while Lori Bennett and Samiksha (Co- Presidents) keep the board focused on the mission, strategic planning, overarching goals of the organization, including financial stability. Lori Roddy explained that this division of duties between board members and staff is something that they cover in the onboarding of each new board member. 

Jamie Buhr served on for-profit and nonprofit boards before coming to the Michigan Theater. He said that for-profit roles can be more about “policing,” especially when working with a public company. However, nonprofit roles need to be much more of a partnership; board members serve as volunteers driven by their passion: in nonprofits, board members must resist the desire to over-manage the organization.

Russ Collins talked about the important distinction between “leading” an organization and “managing” an organization. The ED should be focused on management of the day-to-day, while the board may be focused on leading. Russ felt that the board serves as the “watchdog for the community,” assuring that the organization serves the community, its mission, and is fiscally responsible. He recognized that when disagreements are resolved, it is important for the board chair and ED to present a unified front. 

Watch the entire presentation here:

Four Impact Track Teams Advance to the Finals of the Michigan Business Challenge

January 27, 2020 – Ann Arbor – Business+Impact wants to thank all the teams and judges involved in Round Two of this year’s Michigan Business Challenge – Seigle Impact Track! The competition has been very successful thus far, and the 9 teams from Round Two did a lot of hard work on their presentations. The Seigle Impact Track had a panel of three judges – Eric Davis, Chief Investment Officer, ReValue; Dr. Marcus Harris, College of Business, University of Michigan—Dearborn; and John Cunningham, Chief Operating Officer, Functional Fluidics.


In addition to the 4 Impact Track teams moving on, a total of 4 teams will compete in the Innovation Track, and 4 teams will compete in the Invention Track.

The Seigle Impact Track finals will take place on February 21, 2020 from 9 – 11:35 am at the Ross School of Business. The following teams will participate there:

For Dearborn (4D) –  Rima Imad Fadlallah (MBA ‘20)  For Dearborn (4D) creates space for Arab and/or Muslim Americans (AAM) to self actualize and thrive through digital media, programming, fashion and philanthropy. 

HalalFin – Razeen Karim (BBA ’20), Safwaan Mir (MM ’20), Mohammad Eddir (BSE ’20), & Abrar Quazi (BSE ’20) HalalFin is developing a platform that utilizes blockchain technology, specifically cryptocurrency, to provide individuals access to Islamic-compliant banking and transacting. 

Lillian Augusta – Jannice Newson (MS ‘20) & Nana Britwum (MS ‘20) Lillian Augusta is a brand that revolutionizes Black hair care by offering hair without harm. We aspire to make plastic-based synthetic braiding hair obsolete by replacing it with biodegradable braiding hair made from Phragmites, an invasive plant species. 

Revolin Sports – Hughes Davis (MSE ’20) Revolin Sports provides conscientious athletes with high-performance sporting equipment to help them up their game while respecting the planet. Starting with our pickleball paddle, we use our natural BioFlx Technology™ to create products that undoubtedly prove sustainability and performance are not mutually exclusive. 

The Michigan Business Challenge is a campus-wide, multi-round business plan competition where the winning team has the opportunity to win  funding, gain feedback from judges and expand their business network.  The competition is open to all students of the University of Michigan, and multidisciplinary teams are encouraged. The at-large Michigan Business Challenge is sponsored by the Zell Lurie Institute, and the Impact Track is co-sponsored by Zell Lurie and Business+Impact.


The Choice II Reconvenes U-M’s Best and Brightest to Consider Methods and Modes for Impact Decisionmaking

Business+Impact again brought together U-M scholars on Fri, Dec. 13, 2019 to ponder  how society should make choices that will influence and contribute to a society’s or organization’s ability to flourish.

Featured participants included Tom Malone, former CEO of Summa, and Scott E. Page of the University of Michigan.


Detailed Agenda from the Event

Opening Remarks

The Five Pure Types: A Gathering of Experts
Our day begins with talks by five brilliant Michigan faculty from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and methodological approaches.  Each will provide a working introduction to one of the five institutional forms. How is it defined? When does this institution work well? When doesn’t it? In which allocative and decision-making domains do we see this institution? What spillovers does the institution produce?

  • Markets: Betsey Stevenson (Ford School) (Watch Video)
  • Hierarchies:  Elizabeth Popp Berman (Organizational Studies) (Watch Video)
  • Democracies: Lisa Disch (Political Science) (Watch Video)
  • Communities: Rebecca Hardin (SEAS) (Watch Video)
  • Algorithms: Paul Resnick (Information) (Watch Video)

Keynote: Tom Malone (Watch Video)
In his recent book, SuperMinds, Tom Malone describes how technology increases the potential efficacy and power of humans interacting through institutions. Technology, sometimes in the form of algorithms and often through improved production and allocation of knowledge and information, improves democracies, hierarchies, markets, and self-organized communities.

Dyads: Real World Choices
In The Vanishing American Corporation, Jerry Davis demonstrates how technological advances have led to more market-based transactions and fewer formal organizations (hierarchies) and how that trend has produced a variety of spillovers. Here, we bring in a collection of experts to discuss other dyadic variants of The Choice that occur in the real world.

Spillovers, Flourishing, and Context
The Choice framing emphasizes spillovers across institutions. In this panel, Scott Page (UM-Ross) (Watch Video) will provide some general framing on the types of spillovers that might arise as well as describe a potential taxonomy of spillovers to structure the afternoon’s charrette.

  • Jenna Bednar (Political Science) will propose human flourishing (rather than GDP) as the aim of society and frame The Choice within this broader objective. (Watch Video)
  • Oscar Ybarra (Psychology) will describe evidence for psychological spillovers. (Watch Video)
  • Last, Jerry Davis (UM-Ross) will show how context matters by taking a deep cross-national dive in Uber. Why does Swedish Uber not resemble the US version and how did Uber thrive in India? (Watch Video)

A Deep Dive: The Legal Choice  (Watch Video)
Orly Lobel (Univ. of San Diego Law) and JJ Prescott (UM Law) take a deep dive into how new technology disrupts settled normative regulation choices, and how policymakers should think about leveraging choices to support emerging platform markets, algorithmic capacities, and a changing labor market. 

Micro-Charette: Gigs!
In this session, we will break into small groups to consider the direct and spillover effects of the gig economy. How would we measure spillovers from gig work? How do gig jobs impede and enable flourishing? In what contexts should we encourage or prevent gig employment?

Closings and Openings
We end the day with closing (summary) and opening (new directions for research) thoughts by some key participants. Among our speakers

One-Third Of Michigan Ross Full-Time MBA Class Of 2020 Donates To The Give-A-Day Fund, Receives $10,000 Match On Giving Blueday

During the University of Michigan’s Giving Blueday, the student-run Give-A-Day Fund at the Ross School of Business received thousands of dollars in donations from nearly 100 students, faculty, and staff, which unlocked a $10,000 matching grant from an anonymous donor.

So far in 2019, more than one-third of the Michigan Ross Full-Time MBA Class of 2020 have donated to the Give-A-Day Fund, which supports full-time MBA impact interns with funding from their fellow students. 

Read more on Michigan Ross Website