Teaching Academic Innovation


Gregory Heim // Information and Operations Management

Motivated by a strong innate desire for Academic Innovation in the classroom as much as research efforts, Gregory Heim, Ph.D., the Janet and Mark H. Ely ‘83 Professor in the Department of Information and Operations Management, has made innovation a priority for his students in his classroom. “Academic Innovation, for me, is like shooting fish in a barrel. If you look for contemporary developments, you will find them.”

Heim has been frustrated with case publishers who avoid writing about Supply Chain technology issues that students need to know. Heim saw an opportunity due to a gap in publications and began writing his own discussion cases for students. Some colleagues in his discipline weighed in by offering questions like, “Why would you do that? Doesn’t that take a whole bunch of time? What about your research?”

That pushback created a grit to give his students the best possible education and set them up for success. “Academic Innovation simply focuses more on listening to what our business constituents are experiencing or are challenged by at present, listening to what they need students to know, and translating that insight into the deliverables [e.g., case studies and experiences] that we can reasonably expect our students to accomplish during the relatively short time we have them,” Heim explained.

It has taken Heim more than seven years to evolve, during his time at A&M, into the teaching approach he uses today.

“For much of my career, education was about me: showing how much I knew, and having control of the classroom,” Heim said. “From that beginning, I have had to force myself to let go, experiment, and thrive on the uncertainty of what might happen during a class session. Sometimes it can be scary, but when I get to see students master the technology issues as well as exhibit confidence in managing an audience of stakeholders, the feeling is pure exhilaration.”