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AU students produce research on innovative leadership

AU students produce research on innovative leadership

Lt. Col. Derek Oakley and Maj. David Heinz, students attending Air War College and Air Command and Staff College respectively pose for photo, April 30, 2019, in front of Air University headquarters here. Air University enabled them to expand their research on leadership styles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Markivee)


Two Air University students attending separate courses presented new research on how change is influenced and promoted within the Air Force.

Lt. Colonel Derek Oakley and Major David Heinz, students at Air War College and Air Command and Staff College respectively, met during an elective class offered to students from both schools.

The joint course, called “Leading Change”, offered its students a unique opportunity to see a broader scope of how their leadership styles can promote innovative problem solving within their units.

“A culture of innovation is really a successful interaction between creative values and productive values,” said Heinz, “The way you create success is by having successful small changes that lead to bigger ones.”

Their research brings forward new answers to the question of how to best create a culture of innovation. By stepping back and looking at similar problems that different squadrons are facing, Airmen are able to get solutions implemented more efficiently.

“It’s easy to look at a problem and say ’If we just spend more money, we can solve it,’ but my philosophy is that there’s a lot of innovative and organic solutions that don’t require us to spend money at all,” said Oakley

His research was initially created to look for ways to make pilot training more efficient, and upon arrival at Air University, Oakley was inspired to expand his outlook for the project.

“Air University has really opened up doors to make our research more refined and presentable, and those opportunities have helped us to get the discussion going,” Oakley said.

Oakley and Heinz anticipate their research will have a lasting impact on the Air Force by helping future leaders tackle modern problems with modern solutions.