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

Virtual Info Session for Fall 2020 +Impact Studio Course (BA 670)

Join us online to learn more about next Fall’s 4.5-credit +Impact Studio Course (BA 670), a design thinking course that teaches practical work skills in ethnography, ecosystem mapping, ideation, prototyping, and business model design. Instructor Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks and Business+Impact staff will be on hand.  Students from all grad programs across campus are welcome to sign on to virtual session at


+Impact Studio Winter All-Campus Open House

This Fall, B+I opened a campus hub for design and impact, called the +Impact Studio. It is a collaboration area that serves an educational community passionate about designing for impact. The +Impact Studio is located on the second floor with entrance through Blau Hall at 700 East University. Drop by and see the space, take part in some fun creative activities, and invite your friends!  Snacks will be provided. Come any time between 2 and 4 pm.

Information about the space will be provided via video screens and printed materials, and the event will feature interactive activities.

Faculty Research for Impact: Addressing UN SDG #10 – Reduced Inequalities

How are Ross faculty members advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals through business research? Each month, Business+Impact hosts an interactive design micro-charette themed around one of these goals. During the month of November, we will address Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities. Three award-winning Ross faculty members (Jun Li, A. Yeşim Orhun, and Chris Rider) will share their research in an informal setting and students will have the opportunity to brainstorm possible next steps for how the research can be applied to real-world applications that make a positive impact.

This limited-size two-hour workshop will feature:


Due to high interest in these workshops, we must cap attendance at 25. We aim to keep the numbers of participants at a size that can accommodate the space capacity of the +Impact Studio and provide meaningful group discussion.

+Impact Studio Lightning Info Sessions

Are you looking to find out more about the work being done in the new +Impact Studio at Ross?  Are you interested in finding out about the +Impact Studio course (BA670)?  Do you wonder just what the space is being utlized for?  Sign up for a lightning info session to learn about that and more from faculty and staff.  Each 20-person info session lasts a half an hour.

Register for a session here

Now Open: The +Impact Studio At Michigan Ross Is Taking On Society’s Greatest Challenges

This article was original written by Michigan Ross News

OCTOBER 15, 2019  ANN ARBOR — It’s official, the new +Impact Studio is up and running at the Ross School of Business, and MBAs and other graduate students from across the University of Michigan are already at work figuring out how to translate faculty insights into tangible business solutions to the world’s challenges. 

The +Impact Studio, which is part of the Business+Impact initiative at Ross, encompasses an interdisciplinary action-based learning course; a collaboration space; and a campus hub for programming and events. In addition to translating academic research into real-world impact, the studio also seeks to train students on how to be architects to create new kinds of enterprises.

By design, the interdisciplinary +Impact Studio course brings together the diverse talent and expertise of U-M’s top-ranked graduate schools to take on society’s greatest challenges. This year, the students in the class are divided into two different groups: one focused on using the latest fintech research by Michigan Ross finance professor Bob Dittmar to improve financial inclusion, and the other on scaling a technology developed by Ross marketing professor Eric Schwartz on how to identify lead in Flint water pipes so that it can have a greater impact in Flint and beyond. 

“In this course, it is incredibly rewarding to bring together graduate students from five different schools on campus to learn design methodologies and immediately apply them to pressing challenges in society,” said Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, faculty director of the +Impact Studio and instructor of the course. “The +Impact Studio course provides rare and valuable skills and a set of experiences employers across sectors are asking for.”

With long-term interests in making an impact in healthcare, Gautam Kandlikar, MBA ’20, enrolled in the +Impact Studio course because he said there hasn’t been a good way to define and address larger healthcare problems beyond simply providing care and how to go about tackling them. 

“What I like about this course is that professor Sanchez-Burks is taking really big and difficult-to-solve societal problems like poverty, and forcing us to think about them in different ways so that we can develop solutions by incorporating tools from business, design thinking, and new ideas we are being introduced to,” said Kandlikar. “I’m excited to explore those methods in the class so that I can apply them to healthcare and in my future career.” 

To celebrate the grand opening of the space, an open house was recently held at the +Impact Studio. At the event, Michigan Ross students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the business community were able to get a firsthand look at how the space was designed to facilitate collaboration and idea generation. 

“The physical space itself was designed around ‘users’ (students), based on observation of how they work together as teams,” said Jerry Davis, associate dean of Business+Impact at Michigan Ross. “Each part of the +Impact Studio provides a functional space for different ways of working and creating, from small group discussion work to quiet contemplation to interviewing to big presentations of work in progress. The space and the work and the course are all perfectly aligned.”

Kandlikar agreed the space was fulfilling on its promise, providing a great space to step back and think about problems, a place to have insightful conservations, and a source of creative inspiration with its bright pops of color. 

“It’s nice to be able to come into this sacred atmosphere where I’m only thinking about the problems in the class and having access to resources that I need,” he said. “Since my like-minded classmates and I are looking to make social impact a big part of our careers, this course and this space provide us with the perfect platform to explore achieving something really meaningful in a safe environment.” 

Read original article at Michigan Ross

B+I’s +Impact Studio a highlight of Poet and Quants’ “Most Interesting New MBA Courses”


SEPT. 22, 2019: Poets and Quants published its article “The Most Interesting New MBA Courses at B-Schools This Year,” and under the Ross School of Business, they said that among the courses “that relate back to the school’s mission to use business to make a positive difference in the world”  the +Impact Studio “serves as a nexus between this intellectual capital, a wicked problem and design.”

The other featured course for Michigan Ross was Gautam Kaul’s International Investment Fund.

Read the article

The Importance of Design for Business: A Conversation with Juan-Carlos Morales

The B+I +Impact Studio and Design+Business are pleased to invite Juan-Carlos Morales to Michigan Ross to speak about design thinking applications to the world of business, in particular business that does good for society. He will be interviewed in by Michigan Ross’ faculty director of the +Impact Studio, Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks as part of Innovation Week.

In the past 20 years Mr. Morales has taken his varied experiences and used  them to help organizations create better experiences for people. From creating better products and services to the marketing that promotes them , he has helped those organizations win awards, get talked about in the press, and even patent new technology . His current goals are the same goals he had  when painting graffiti as a teenager. Make things that people will talk about: work that he can be proud of, and work for a place that has purpose greater than just making money.

Currently the Executive Creative Director at Chameleon Collective in Florida, he served as Chief Creative Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers Digital Services, creating the “Art of the Possible” thought leadership series.


Designing for Impact: A Conversation with Cynthia Koenig

Join the Impact Studio at Ross for a discussion on leveraging design for impact with social innovator and MBA/MS ‘11 alum Cynthia Koenig. Cynthia is a Product Management Principal at Amazon, focused on designing impactful new digital products, and is the Founder of Wello, an award-winning social venture that designs disruptive and affordable innovations to provide better, more reliable access to safe water. 
As part of the school’s Business+Impact initiative, the newly launched Impact Studio brings together students from Ross and other disciplines in applying design principles to translate insights from faculty research into practical solutions to societal challenges. Studio faculty Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks and Jerry Davis will engage Cynthia in a lively discussion about her work in the design and impact space, the design-based skills needed for disruptive change, and the skills companies and organizations are increasingly seeking in the workforce. 
Please RSVP here.