• Micha Veen

Agile Innovation to transition towards Enterprise Agility


In the last few years, more and more organisations are adopting Agile Development and Innovation Management. Combining these key methodologies has been shown key to drive effective, sustainable innovation across the continuous disrupting business landscape. To provide insight in how Agile Innovation is different in achieving Enterprise Agility “excellence” is explained in the next paragraphs.

What is the definition of Agile Development?

Agile Development refers to the approach in which organisational bottlenecks and challenges are effectively transferred into evolving solutions through collaboration between self-organising, cross-functional teams. Agile Development promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development, frequent and iterative delivery, and continuous improvement. This methodology encourages rapid and flexible response to change, allowing exceeding the evolving organisational goals, stakeholder feedback and commercial targets. Agile development within the business solution context defines 12 core principles, being:

  • Satisfy the customer by quickly delivering the solution,

  • Welcome value-added changing requirements and evaluate at every iteration,

  • Deliver the solution frequently on a short timeframe, preferably every two weeks or more frequent,

  • Team collaboration daily with stand-up meetings, usually no longer than 15 minutes,

  • Support and trust motivated project teams

  • Communicate face-to-face for most efficient sharing of information,

  • Measure progress primarily through value added solutions

  • Promote sustainable solutions. “Developers”, stakeholders, and users should be able to maintain pace in indefinitely,

  • Pay continuous attention to solution excellence and solid design,

  • Simplicity is core and essential,

  • Keep teams self-organising around core features or deliverables,

  • Regularly reflect on how the team can become more effective and adapt at the end of every iterative deployment via retrospectives.

These core principles allow organisations to continuously respond to internal and external pressures, while effectively delivering fit-for-purpose, scalable solutions.

What is the definition of Innovation Management?

Innovation management generally refers to questioning and changing the “status quo” through creating more effective organisational models, work processes, products and services that can increase the likelihood of a business reaching its organisational, operational goals and commercial targets.

Innovation can be split into the following types:

  • Product and/ or Service Innovation: New and better products or service offerings that your organisation can provide and deliver to customers,

  • Process innovation: New, better and more effective ways of doing activities with the focus on saving time/ money and/ or creating business growth,

  • Business model innovation: Improving the way your organisation creates, delivers and extracts value from customers,

  • Organisational innovation: Improving the way you manage and engage your employees to deliver value for your customers,

  • Brand and communication innovation: New and better methods of representing your organisation across the wider business landscape.

During many different “transformations”, it has become very apparent that there is a direct relationship between organisations that innovate, e.g. create more efficient work processes, optimise their business and organisational model, and improved productivity leading to enhanced commercial performance.

Being innovative doesn’t solely refer to product or service inventing; effective innovation is focussed on changing your business and organisational model, adjusting internal cross-functional processes to reduce silos and effectively adapting to changes in your external business environment to deliver better products or services. Only through adopting innovation throughout your business, these organisational benefits can be achieved.

In today’s fast evolving business landscape, successful innovation should be an in-built part of your organisational strategy, where you create a culture of innovation and lead the way in innovative thinking and creative problem solving.

Why should organisations combine Agile Development & Innovation Management?

If innovation management is focussed on continuously questioning and adjusting the “status quo”, Agile development allows organisations to introduce the most effective method to execute effective innovation. Combining these two business terminologies into Agile Innovation allows a clear focus on delivering evolutionary innovation across the organisational value chain through the use of self-organising teams and iterative innovation development to exceed its organisational goals. This “new” methodology focuses on the best approach to use effective self-organising teams, close stakeholder collaboration, a test & try learning environment, with the possibility to adapt the innovative solution in a continuous fast-pacing business landscape.

Agile Innovation has shows sustainable value through the focus on:

  • Individuals & interactions over process & tools

  • Working innovative solutions over comprehensive documentation

  • Intimate customer collaboration over formal contract negotiation

  • Responding to innovative change over following a “pre-defined solution plans”

This is why pockets of Agile Innovation is actively used in the business environment of many large multinationals to meet the continuous changing business landscape, allowing the organisation to:

  • Develop scalable, evolving innovative solutions,

  • Focus on periodic development and deployment of innovation to allow the organisation to stay “ahead” of the competitive digital and traditional landscape,

  • Develop solutions with cross-skilled, self-organised teams and close collaboration with diverse stakeholders, to ensure innovations can be adapted based on changing priorities to fully meet, and even exceed, the business goals, commercial growth or cost targets,

  • Create continuous, iterative, innovative solution deployments, which show direct value-add to the long-term evolving business goals,

  • Continuously measure the “gap” between the change and the ultimate organisational goals to show progress and “value for money”,

  • Use Agile Innovation to transition towards Enterprise Agility.

What difference does Agile Innovation make?

A questionnaire was developed and distributed among a selection of Fortune 500 organisations to assess why these organisations use elements of Agile Innovation. The following overall consensus was provided:

  • 82% of organisations adopted Agile Innovation to allow them to manage changing business and technology priorities more effectively,

  • 80% of organisations identified that Agile Innovation increased overall productivity across their organisation,

  • 78% of organisations highlight that the main reason for them to adopt Agile Innovation, is to accelerate “time to market” of their innovations,

  • 66% of organisations that have adopted Agile Innovation, highlight that they complete projects faster than using traditional innovation methods,

  • 63% of organisations adopted Agile Innovation to improve alignment between the objectives/ goals of the various organisational units to meet overall organisational goals,

  • 58% of organisations improved project visibility by adopting Agile Innovation, allowing senior management to track-and-trace innovation in the organisation,

  • 47% of organisations were able to identify an improvement in employee and team morale through the use of Agile Innovation in their organisation,

Overall, the focus on continuously providing innovative products and/ or services requires organisations to adopt innovation principles across their entire organisation. Only by adoption of Agile Innovation it allows organisations to transition towards Enterprise Agility...

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