+Impact Studio Course
+Impact Studio Course: BA670
Develop a toolkit for social innovation that is also desired by top employers across industries. In the interdisciplinary Impact Studio course, BA670, you’ll gain a mindset, a process, and a set of tools and experiences for developing impactful solutions to societal challenges. The course combines the management principles and acumen of business with design thinking, design tools, and interdisciplinary expertise and scholarly insights.
We know the pandemic is imposing new demands and constraints and creating new norms and needs for our community. So we asked ourselves – how can we use the knowledge and resources of the University of Michigan and its students to build back better – to reimagine business and the social sector to be more rewarding, just, and democratic? And how might we design for this new reality with resilience and equity in mind?
This academic year, students in BA670 will engage local businesses and nonprofits to design solutions for tackling challenges and increasing resiliency through the pandemic. They will build on the work of Ross and Ford school students who were part of the summer program +Impact Studio for Local Business, launched in summer 2020. You can view the open source resources and guides they created. We are prioritizing organizations facing inequities in the wake of the pandemic including women and minority-owned businesses, and nonprofit organizations.
This course is taught by Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, Behavioral Scientist and Professor of Management and Organizations at the Ross School of Business, whose research and teaching focus on the social process of designing and implementing desired futures.
Fall 2020 Course Innovations
The BA 670 class of Fall 2020 presented the following proposals in “Building Back Better in the Wake of COVID-19” in December 2020:
Student team: Jenn Weber Krane, MBA ’21; Tory Lowy, MPH/MPP ’21; Esenam Dogoe, MBA ’21
The team was tasked with helping women- and minority-owned small businesses find ways to reduce their customer risk and exposure and also keep their customers informed, engaged, and updated on procedures. Through their research, they found that many businesses lack the resources and capacity to make public health-informed changes to space design and communication campaigns. The students created a playbook of ways for small businesses to communicate their health and safety protocols to customers.
Student team: Anushka Shetty, MSI ’21; Kat Chan, MBA ’21; Leeseul Park, MSI ’21; Jaklyn Nunga, MSI ’20; José Lemus, MPP ’22
The team’s project centered on community engagement for local Detroit businesses in the food industry. They sought to understand how small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) connect with peer businesses to build community and share resources that help each business adjust to COVID-19. The team conducted 40 interviews, speaking to five SMBs and community leaders to identify how businesses currently build community and share resources to stay open during the pandemic. The team created a toolkit for community leaders to bring these businesses together in order to share information.
Student team: Kristin Mixon, MBA ’21; Alison Wang, MA ’21; Ben Schoenleber, MBA ’21; Isadora Vaz, MBA ’21
The team explored how to reimagine engaging in-person experiences between businesses and customers via digital enhancements. The team wanted to create a way to evoke feelings that people experience during in-person interactions with small, local businesses into a digital environment. Their goal is to help communities maintain connections with customers during times of social distancing with the creation of online communities, while also benefiting the businesses once they return to normal operations.
Student team: Sarika Kare, MBA ’21; Wan-Ting Ko, MSI ’21; Kat Overhage, MBA ’21
Through their research, the student team found that there is a lack of ways to optimize operations and distribution among food pantries where individuals pick up food. The team’s proposed solution was to connect local food pantries and provide them with a digital communication platform. For example, they proposed employing the use of text chains and a Google Sheet so that individuals and food pantries have easy access to updated information about inventory.
Student team: Mia Rose Pskowski, MBA ’21; Nicki Yochim, MBA ’21; Ledge Greenfield, MBA ’21; Samih Mikhayel, MBA ’21; Mats Fagre, MBA ’21
The team recognized that many women and minority-owned SMBs are unable to reliably access capital through grants and loans, as grant and loan applications require a great amount of documentation that those businesses typically do not have the time or knowledge to complete. They interviewed local business owners and community organizations and learned that grant application support was a larger need, with few existing resources to help. The team’s mission is to enable SMBs to survive economic hardship by being better prepared to quickly apply for, and more effectively access, critical funding opportunities. They created solutions for both identifying grant opportunities and for assisting in the grant application process.
— Katarina Chan (MBA ‘21)