Angèle Beausoleil: “Design is the bridge”

Rosemary Hannam, Senior Research Associate with the Centre for Health Sector Strategy at Rotman, recently sat down with Angèle Beausoleil, Assistant Professor, Business Design and Innovation. Their talk focused on what Angèle would bring to Rotman’s Global Executive MBA for Healthcare and The Life Sciences (GEMBA-HLS) and what students can expect in the San Francisco module of the program.

Rosemary: I understand you’ve recently come to us from the West Coast. We’re thrilled to welcome you to Rotman, and to the GEMBA-HLS program. Could you give us a quick overview of what you’ll be teaching for us in the program?

A woman looking at the camera

Angèle Beausoleil, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream — Business Design and Innovation

Angèle: I will be designing and delivering a course that integrates design thinking into healthcare innovation. At Rotman we have pioneered a methodology called Business Design™. Business Design takes our students through a process of understanding and applying human-centred design principles and methods to business innovation activities. The course offers foundational knowledge on the innovation process and weaves practical frameworks and techniques in first need or problem finding, then problem framing and finally problem solving.

Rosemary: Your course will be delivered in San Francisco in Module 2, along with our Digital Health course. I understand you’ve spent quite a bit of time there. How will you take advantage of the location? What types of experiences can your students expect to have?

Angèle: Yes, I am a recovering entrepreneur and former executive, having worked with many San Francisco-based organizations on educational and technological initiatives over the past 30 years. Following my recently completed PhD from the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia, I was recruited to UC Berkeley Haas to teach an applied innovation and design course for executive MBAs, similar to the course I’ll be teaching in this program. The San Francisco and greater ‘Bay Area’ location is very relevant to this course, as it has evolved into one of the largest design centres in the world where firms are integrating design into technological and social innovations. Agencies, R&D firms and corporations have been able to demonstrate how design is the bridge between research and development, art and engineering, technical performance and human behavior.

This intensive business design course for the GEMBA-HLS will integrate course modules with site visits. The course modules offer the building blocks to truly understand the innovation process, and how to apply design principles and techniques to find, frame and solve business challenges relevant to their industry. The site visits offer the student the opportunity to engage with executives from these firms and take a look at how they’re applying design principles in day-to-day practice. This experiential course will have a live healthcare case for the students to apply their learning to – increasing their level of fluency with design.

Specifically, the students will apply ‘lean ethnography’ methods, such as observations and interactions in the field, to the live business challenge in an effort to build empathy and discover deep user insights. From the data collected, they will use design-driven data analysis and synthesis techniques to frame the challenge through the lens of the user/patient/stakeholder. From this critical framing phase, the students will then iterate potential solutions based on the key insights and propose one as an innovation.

Rosemary: Overall, what is unique about the healthcare and life sciences sector in San Francisco?

Angèle: With the advent of successful innovators from the engineering and technology sectors, we are seeing a move toward applying patient and user-centred mindset to healthcare and life sciences. For example, universities, foundations, and governments are applying “design thinking” to their missions. For the past few years, Apple has been aggressively hiring healthcare-related talent. Most recently, they recruited our very own Dr Mike Evans, a physician from St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and an associate professor of family and community medicine at the University of Toronto. Overall, the Bay Area is one jurisdiction actively integrating design into digital technologies as a way forward to transform their current healthcare systems, and we’ll be taking a first-hand look at how it’s done.

Angèle Beausoleil is the assistant professor, teaching stream of Business Design and Innovation at Rotman. She has a PhD in Innovation and Design Pedagogy from the University of British Columbia. She is a visiting lecturer at UC Berkeley Haas, having received a “top teacher award” for her applied innovation MBA courses, and was formerly an adjunct professor at the Sauder School of Business, at the University of British Columbia. She teaches human-centred design for business innovation, design research, creativity and innovation management at Rotman. She leads teaching-related research with organizations in technology, healthcare, consulting and creative sectors in Canada, US and Mexico. Her research is focused on studying teaching and learning methods for design and innovation fluency. Prior to graduate studies, she held executive positions in marketing, strategy and innovation for Canadian, North American and global agencies and corporations. During her 25 years in industry, she garnered over 20 international awards for educational products, service design and digital platforms. She has held board directorships with Telus Health, Interface Health, Vancouver International Film Society and Merging Media.

Read more about Rotman’s Global Executive MBA for Healthcare and The Life Sciences.

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