58 Faculty of Business Economics and Entrepreneurship International Review (2018 No.3-4)
TRENDS IN AGILE INNOVATION MANAGEMENT
The scope and type of applied innovations, as well as the speed of innovation by companies,
today show a growing trend, which requires special efforts from the companies that claim to be
leaders in the market. Therefore, these companies are forced to transform their innovative
management into new forms. As an especially effective way to transform innovative management
into the forefront, agile innovative management has emerged. Therefore, the theoretical desktop
research of the state of development of agile innovative management from a number of
perspectives has been carried out, as follows: agile innovation systems (AIS) as a phenomenon;
the history of the creation of AIS; application of agile methods in companies; the basic function
of agile innovation; places of agile innovation in the company; key elements of agile innovation;
useful recommendations for companies that develop agile innovation; the process of agile
innovation; agile behavioral approach; the uncertainty of agile innovation, and the measurement
of agile innovation in companies. This paper summarizes the results of this research and gives
guidelines to companies how to successfully implement agile innovation management.
KEY WORDS: research, innovation, innovation management, agility
JEL: O30, O32
Faculty of Business Economics and Entrepreneurship, Belgrade, Serbia,
Faculty of Business Economics and Entrepreneurship, Belgrade, Serbia
Higher business school of applied studies “Prof. Radomir Bojkovic, PhD“, Krusevac
Faculty of Business Economics and Entrepreneurship International Review (2018 No.3-4) 59
The current economic paradigm - Knowledge driven economy, resulting from further
evolutionary development from the previous paradigm - Economics based on the intensive
application of knowledge, is basically the result of technological progress that manifests itself in
civilizational practices, embodied in useful objects (products) and services, processes,
organization, artifacts in all spheres of our lives (Krstić, Skorup, Lapčević, 2016). On the other
hand, economics based on intensive use of knowledge in which individual product customers are
in a specific way directly included in the production process with their knowledge,
information, suggestions and ideas, and thereby actively participate in its realization (Krstić,
Skorup, Minkov, 2016).
Knowledge-driven economy in front of businesses now sets new challenges that can be
summarized in the following: the markets have become global and with new competitors; life
cycles of products and services are rapidly shrinking; users are increasingly demanding; The
complexity of technology is increasing. (Krstić, 2013)
In such an economy, changes have become almost everyday, which makes the entire
business environment permanently changing, so the key question that is being posed today to all
companies, regardless of their size, is how to survive under such conditions. In order to give a
meaningful answer to that question, a theoretical desktop research was launched, which is briefly
presented in this paper.
The aim of the research was to explore approaches that give companies a chance to survive
in a constantly changing environment.
The basic research hypothesis is that the response to the fast-changing environment of
business entities should be an agile innovation.
The research applied: historical, descriptive, comparative, deductive and analytical methods.
The research has confirmed that agile innovation can enable sustainability in the long run.
In this regard, the conclusions of the research presented the appropriate recommendations.
Innovative methodology is a set of methods that are applied in innovative management, that
is, in the initiation and management of innovations and innovation incentives. Which of the
innovative methodologies in the concrete case will be applied depends on the context (state of
the environment) in which the innovation is realized, as well as our perceptions of innovation.
Therefore, innovative methodologies are constantly changing and upgrading, new ones appear,
and their rank of significance changes (Zakić, Bugarčić, Milovanović, 2017), (Daragahi, 2017).
The latest ranking of significance, evaluation of the first 10 innovative methodologies,
(Kaminskaite J, 2016) resulted in their following order: Agile Innovative Systems, Co-Creating
Values, Deep Immersion, Design Thinking, Lean Thinking, Open Innovation, Planning scenario,
Six Sigma. Since Agile Innovation Systems have come to the forefront of innovative
methodologies, it will be discussed in more detail.
THEORETHICAL OVERVIEW OF AGILE INNOVATION SYSTEMS
Agility as a term
The term "agile" means "fast and well-coordinated on the move; (DIC, 2017), and originates
from Latin agilis, which means "it has speed in motion, turning, clever, smart" (ETY, 2017).
If the term is applied to innovative systems, the Agile Innovation System is referred to.
60 Faculty of Business Economics and Entrepreneurship International Review (2018 No.3-4)
Brief history of the creation of agile principles
According to (Rigby, K. D, Sutherland, J., Takeuchi, H, 2016, a) key historical points that
ultimately resulted in the emergence of Agile Innovative Systems can be summarized as
Francis Bacon defined the Scientific Method in 1620.
Walter Shewhart and Edwards Deming establish the PDSA (Plan-Do-Study-Act) cycle.
The Toyota company in the 80's introduces the Toyota Production System - the primary
source of today's "Lean" thinking.
In 1986, Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka identified the Team-based approach,
which significantly changed the process of designing and developing complex products
(examples of Fuji-Xerox photocopiers, Honda Automobile Motors, Canon cameras).
Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, in 1995, instead of a conventional "Staple" product
development method, establish a new so-called "rugby" method, called "scrum" - a
crowd for the ball, which allows an seemingly impossible project to end in time budget,
and with fewer errors than any previous version.
17 programmers in 2001, who called themselves "organizational anarchists", in
Snowbird, Utah, established a new name for the software design project - Agile, on the
basis of which, in the meantime, was formed the Agile Alliance, a non-profit
organization (with more than 30,000 members) whose aim is to promote agility in
Today, agility extends far beyond the information technology (IT) framework, and
moreover, it has a tendency to expand to improve innovative processes, in virtually every
function, of almost every industry.
Agile innovative systems are especially important for companies that have developed the
Product Management, and especially within the R & D function, and are characteristic for the
development of complex products, and in particular come to terms with IT products.
The place of agile innovation in innovation management
According to the observations (Prasadi Lokuge, 2015), agile innovation can be presented as
a core that links innovation, people, technology, project and outputs, Figure 1.
Figure 1. Agile innovation
Source: (Prasadi Lokuge, 2015)
Depending on the technology used, various types of innovations can be achieved, of which
the most common are radical, incremental and desruptive innovations. In a modern competitive
market, companies are usually unable to tolerate desruptive innovations, because they are very
Faculty of Business Economics and Entrepreneurship International Review (2018 No.3-4) 61
expensive and very risky. This is why companies, using the available organizational technologies,
mainly implement incremental or radical innovations. Key differences between incremental and
radical innovations are presented in Table 1.
Table 1: Characteristics of radical and incremental innovation, Source (Prasadi Lokuge, 2015)
continuous (linear improvement of value
acquired by the customer)
discontinuous (with or without predecessor;
essential, nonlinear improvement obtained
by the customer)
based on old technology
based on new technologies
dominant design unchanged
leads to a new dominant design
does not lead to a paradigm shift
can lead to a paradigm shift
implies a low level of uncertainty
implies a high level of uncertainty
improvement of existing characteristics
introduces a whole new set of performance
existing organization and qualifications are
requires education, new organization and
the result of a rational response or necessity
result of chance or R & D policy, not
driven by market pull (important in the
advanced stage of technology)
driven by technology (important in the early
stage of technology)
in order to achieve short-term economic
in order to achieve long-term economic
The place and role of agile innovation in relation to incremental and radical innovation are
presented in Table 2.
Table 2: Comparison of innovation types
improvement of value
acquired by the customer)
discontinuous (with or
based on old technology
based on new technology
based on old and on new
dominant design unchanged
leads to a new dominant
dominant design expanded
does not lead to a paradigm
can lead to a paradigm shift
can lead to moderate
changes in the paradigm
implies a low level of
implies a high level of
implies a moderate level of
improvement of existing
introduces a new set of
leads to the expansion of
existing organization and
qualification are sufficient
there is a need for additional
education, new organization
and new skills
there is a need for smaller or
62 Faculty of Business Economics and Entrepreneurship International Review (2018 No.3-4)
The result is a rational
response to needs
The result is the coincidence
or the impact of R&D
policy rather than need
attributed to the agility
driven by market dragging
(important in the advanced
stage of technology)
driven by pushing
technology (important in the
early stage of technology)
driven by competition on
the market and by
in order to achieve short-
term economic goals
in order to achieve long-
term economic goals
in order to achieve a quick
Source: (Prasadi Lokuge, 2015)
Possibilities for using agile methods
Agile methods are being successfully applied, and only some typical examples of application
in different areas will be listed here (Rigby, Sutherland, Takeuchi, 2016, b):
National Public Radio uses agile methods for creating new programs,
John Deere uses agile methods to develop new machines, i
Saab uses agile methods to produce new combat aircraft,
Intronis, a leader in cloud backup services, uses agile marketing methods,
C.H. Robinson, a global leader in logistic services, uses agile methods in human
Bell Winery uses agile methods from wine production to warehouse,
GE uses agile methods to accelerate public transition from the 20th century
conglomerate to the "digital and industrial company" of the 21st century.
Characteristics of agile innovation
Agile innovation is a specific "guide in the field for designing and implementing effective
innovation strategies by strengthening the classical methodology of innovation with the Agile
process. In order to facilitate Agile collaborative processes, self-organized and self-optimizing
teams can be formed in the organization to better solve complex problems and create desruptive
innovations" (Langdon, Moses, Po Chi, 2014). In this sense, three key functions of Agile
(1) Achieve maximum speed in innovative efforts. Agile innovations support the effective
development of created ideas and their productive implementation, through a common
innovation, from leadership to operation.
(2) Risk reduction. Agile innovation encourages the creation of a culture of innovation, and
through increased collaboration between all actors in innovation, risk can be reduced (see section
(3) Engaging the entire organization in creating and developing the best ideas, since agile
innovation promotes the principles of integration. Effective innovation, as a rule, does not happen
by chance, but it is the result of the deliberate design and improvement of the organization's
Elements of Agile Innovation
The practice of innovative management shows a rule that innovation is accompanied by
organizational changes. However, according to (IVP, 2015), thanks to the Agile Innovative
System - AIS, companies can improve their innovative activities even without the need for major
organizational changes. The condition for this is the creation of a flexible team and assignment
of authorization to the team, for the implementation of an innovative task. In this way, AIS can
Faculty of Business Economics and Entrepreneurship International Review (2018 No.3-4) 63
be thought of as an execution plan that will be implemented through Open Innovations. Within
the AIS, three subsystems can be identified (Figure 2): Growth, Accel and Scouting.
The subsystem Growth focuses on development opportunities, as a company that needs to
build growth on the basis of new innovative activities, as well as companies that already realize
innovative activities through acceleration of team effort.
The Accel subsystem serves to build new platforms based on the iterative "market-testing"
approach, which quantifies the risk and reduces the uncertainty of organized investment.
The Scouting subsystem enables teams of internal technology experts to proactively identify
destructive technologies, which help predict new growth platforms.
Figure 2. Agile innovation systems
Source: (IVP, 2015)
Agile Innovation Process
Each innovation is realized through a specific innovative process, and in this sense Agile
Innovation is realized through the Process of Agile Innovation, Figure 3.
Figure 3. The process of agile innovation
Source: (Prasadi Lokuge, 2015)
Hereinafter, the process of agile innovation will be elaborated in detail.
Figure 3, Block 1 shows the important structural elements of the agile process, as follows:
Stable and open
With a short lead
The direct value of
64 Faculty of Business Economics and Entrepreneurship International Review (2018 No.3-4)
Innovative platform. The requirement for the realization of innovation is the existence of an
innovative platform. Innovative platform is a business system, which in Figure 3 is represented
as a stable and open Enterprise System (ES), which enables innovation.
Digital technologies. Digital technologies today are helping and inspiring creative thinking
and innovative challenges. Companies are able to assess their capacities and capabilities and on
the basis of that they choose the most appropriate technologies for improving a particular business
function or business process.
Eco-system. By analogy with the bio-ecological system, the eco-system of the business
system consists of the following stakeholders, that is, the stakeholders of the ES, namely:
customers, suppliers and employees. They all have a share in the realization of agile innovation.
Flexible control structures. Experience, especially with the IT governance structures,
highlighted the importance of organizational design, where the need for more flexible
management structures favoring innovation is especially emphasized.
The direction of Block 1 is towards sensibility (feeling) for the needs of the market, towards
inspiration and ideas, or creation of ideas.
Block 2 includes the following structural elements of the agile process, as follows:
Engagement. Engagement refers to the engagement of all actors involved in the innovation process.
Integration. In order to enable the engagement of all stakeholders, it is necessary to integrate
Orchestration. In order for the integrated efforts to provide a synergistic effect, it is
necessary to ensure their orchestration, or successful conduct.
The direction of Block 2 is towards the trial of application, since in the case of agile
innovation, the trial takes place synchronously with its formation.
Block 3 includes structural elements of an agile process that relate to the key characteristics
of agile innovation, such as: short implementation time, opportunistic innovation, functional
focus, and direct value of the innovation proposal.
Agile access can be best viewed on an IT iterative approach, or an access to software
delivery, that is used by companies that develop software. (Rasmusson J, 2017)
In the traditional software development, Figure 4, there is a continuous one-by-one activity
- analysis, design, coding and, finally, testing. In this case, software testing is realized after all
the activities that precede it have been realized.
Figure 4: Traditional and agile software development
Source: (Rasmusson J, 2017)
Faculty of Business Economics and Entrepreneurship International Review (2018 No.3-4) 65
Unlike the traditional approach, Figure 4, in the agile approach, all the above activities -
analysis, design, coding and testing - are carried out continuously and simultaneously throughout
the development project. In this way, the following benefits are achieved:
The quality of the project is improving, as its testing starts from the first day of software
The visibility of the project is improving, because the project immediately becomes
visible to the extent that a part of its functions has been built;
the risk is reduced because user feedback is relatively early; and
End-users are satisfied because they can introduce changes in the project without the
obligation to pay the additional costs.
Uncertainty with agile innovation
Risk and uncertainty are regular followers of every innovative project, and in that sense agile
innovation. This especially due to the fact that the environment conditions of the business entity
that innovates and the innovations change rapidly, which puts additional problems ahead of the
designers. In order to assess the risk of agile innovation, an Uncertainty cone can be used as an
analogue, which is present in IT innovation or software design.
According to (CON, 2017), at the earliest stage of the software designing project, specific
details regarding the nature of the software, details of specific requirements, details of the final
solution, project plan, details of work engagement and other variables of the project, as a rule, are
unclear. The variability in the above details contributes to the variability in the assessment of the
project as a whole. As the sources of variabillity that concern the details are investigated and
fixed, so the variability within the project decreases, which also leads to a decrease in uncertainty.
This phenomenon is known as the "Cone of Uncertainty", which is shown by the diagram of the
cone of uncertainty, Figure 5.
Figure 5: Cone of Uncertainty
Source: (CON, 2017)
The horizontal axis of the diagram is the time axis of the duration of the project. It features
characteristic project points (milestones), such as: the end time of the initial concept, the time
66 Faculty of Business Economics and Entrepreneurship International Review (2018 No.3-4)
when product definition was adopted, the time when the project requirements were completed,
the time when the user interface was completed, and so on.
The vertical axis of the diagram is the estimation of variability and is expressed by the degree
of error that can be found in the assessments made by qualified assessors within the milestones
in the project. Estimates can refer to the costs of a particular set of functions, the effort to invest
in the realization of the set of functions, and the like. As is evident from Figure 5, the estimates
made earlier in the project are those that are susceptible to a greater degree of error. Thus,
estimates of the completion time of the initial concept may be incorrect with a factor of 4x, an
estimate of the time when the product definition may be incorrect with a factor 2x, an estimate of
the time when the user interface is completed with the factor of 1.25x, and so on, with estimation
in later phase of the project, the error is less.
In this regard, the presented uncertainty model present in software design can be generalized
and applied to Agile systems, since they represent uncertainty especially in terms of changing
Measurement of agile innovation parameters
Management process assumes that four key functions are implemented, namely: planning,
organizing, leading, and controlling. The last - control is missing, unless an adequate performance
measurement is established. This also applies to innovation management. Hence, the issue of
innovative metrics, which deals with benchmarking at the national or company level, is gaining
in importance, and it is no wonder that it has a longer pre-history. So far, four generations of
innovative metrics have been developed, Table 3, from which it is evident that new indicators
have been introduced, which measure innovation. Thus, the first generation of the indicators is
characterized by inputs for innovation, the second generation by outputs, the third generation by
innovation parameters, and the fourth generation by process indicators.
Table 3. The four generations of innovative metrics
Source: (Arasimhalu, 2011)
The emergence of agile innovative systems has led to the development of a new
methodology for measuring the agility of innovative management in companies, which differs
from the previous four generations of indicators (Arasimhalu, 2011). Key measurement targets
and indicators for measuring agility in innovative management in the company are shown in
Faculty of Business Economics and Entrepreneurship International Review (2018 No.3-4) 67
Table 4. Objectives and indicators for measuring agility in innovative management in the
Maximizing the efficiency
of innovative management
Management Index (AIMI)
Synthesized indicator of the
agility of innovative
The time needed to form an
Innovation Response Index
A measure of how quickly a
team for design and delivery
of innovation can be formed
Minimizing the cycle time
from idea to market (I2M)
Development Index (AIDI)
The amount of time it takes
for an innovative team to
develop and deliver
Source: Authors, based on (Arasimhalu, 2011)
The structure of Agile Innovation Management Index is presented in Figure 6, from which
it is evident that the Agile Innovation Management Index (AIMI) is built from two indexes - the
Innovation Response Index (IRI) and the Agile Innovation Development Index (AIDI). It is
evident from Figure 6 that two indexes - the Innovative Culture Index (ICI) and the Innovation
Depth Index (IDI) are included in the formation of the Innovation Response Index (IRI). In
addition, the Innovation Culture Index (ICI) is built from three indexes - Innovation Training
effectiveness (ITE), Innovation Quality and Capacity (IQC) and Management Commitment
to Innovation (MCI). A questionnaire with a total of 18 questions (variables) is involved in the
formation of these indexes.
Companies should periodically calculate their indexes of innovative management - Agile
Innovation Management Index (AIMI), Innovation Response Index (IRI), and Agile Innovation
Development Index (AIDI), and compare them:
- with indexes for the previous period (it is recommended to be done every year),
- with indexes for comparable companies in the same industry.
Figure 6: Excel tool for determining the company's agility in innovation management,
Source: Authors, based on (Arasimhalu, 2011)
68 Faculty of Business Economics and Entrepreneurship International Review (2018 No.3-4)
On the basis of the conducted desktop research, it can be concluded that agile innovation has
largely developed into innovative management and confirmed its introduction. On the basis of the
previous review, certain recommendations can be made for companies that intend to develop agile
innovations. In that sense, leaders in companies, if they want to use agile potential, should adopt the
following key practical recommendations (Rigby, Sutherland , Takeuchi , 2016, b), as follows:
1. Find out how agility really works
Leaders of agile behavior must find out how agility really works. For this knowledge of
importance is the realization that the values and principles of Agile innovation include:
scrum, which emphasizes creative and adaptable team work in solving complex
lean development, which focuses on the continuous elimination of all losses; and
kanban, which concentrates on reducing lap times and the amount of work in the
2. Understand where agility works`
Leaders of agile behavior should understand where agility has an effect. For assessing the
condition where agility works or where it does not work, Table 5 which presents key states for
agility can be very useful.
Table 5: Favorable and unfavorable conditions for agility
User Preferences and elective options
User preferences are stable
Close cooperation and quick feedback are
Users know best what they want because
the process is progressing.
The requirements are clear at the very
beginning and will remain stable.
Customers are unavailable for permanent
The type of
The problems are complex, the choices
are unknown, and the scope is not clearly
defined. Product specifications can be
changed. Creative breakthroughs and time
to market are important. Cross-functional
cooperation is vital.
Similar work has not been done before,
and innovators believe that solutions are
clear. Detailed specifications and work
plans can be foreseen with certainty and
should be followed. Problems can be
solved sequentially in functional
Incremental events have value, and users
can use them.
Work can be divided into parts and
implemented in fast, iterative cycles.
Later changes can be solved.
Users can not start testing parts of the
product until everything is finished.
Late changes are expensive or impossible.
The impact of the
Provide precious learning.
It can be catastrophic.
Source: (Rigby, Sutherland, Takeuchi, 2016, b)
Routine and predictable tasks, in which impact assessments, press interviews, factory visits,
customers and suppliers, etc. can be classified, do not fall under the category of agility tasks.
Faculty of Business Economics and Entrepreneurship International Review (2018 No.3-4) 69
Non-routine and hard-to-predict tasks, which can include development strategies, resource
allocation, pervasive innovation, and improved organizational cooperation, etc., fall into the
category of agility tasks.
3. Agility start with small increments
Leaders of agility, that is, the leaders who are most successful in agility management, usually
introduce agility with small increments, usually at the IT sector, since programmers are the largest
acceptors of agility, and they extend agility to other functions in the organization.
4. Agility requires stable teams
The experience of introducing agile innovations indicates that it is desirable that the deployment
teams are relatively stable. If the teams are stable, or if there is no change in team members, the teams
are more productive even by 60%, compared to teams that change team members.
5. Agility should be practiced from top management
Experience has shown that agility should not be practiced only with innovative teams that carry out
innovative activities. It is very important that top management also learns the principles of agility, and
applies them as an agile team, as this can achieve the far-reaching benefits of their company.
6. Agliness should destroy organizational barriers
In overcoming the barriers of agile behavior, very benefitial can be a management style that helps
functional managers turn into general managers, and the strategies of companies and their
organizations to evolve, from managers sealed into organizational units, into managers who become
fighters for power and resources in common cross- functional teams of the company.
Leaders who pretend to be leaders in agile behavior should learn to, instead of ordering,
build leadership on issues addressed to agile teams, such as "What do you recommend?" and
"How can this be tested?" and similar.
In this paper, the results of desktop theoretical research are presented in the shortened scope in order
to explore approaches that give companies a chance to survive in a constantly changing environment.
The basic assumption of research has been confirmed that agile innovation is the right
response to the fast-changing environment of business entities.
In the present research focus was on companies - large corporations, which have developed
The possibilities for the rational application of the principles of agility when it comes to
companies in the category of micro, small and medium-sized companies remain yet to be explored.
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Received 5 March 2018
Accepted 25 November 2018