The Agile Innovation Framework

V 0.7, Frank Schultheiss



The Agile Innovation Framework is a system for the structured development of innovations. The goal of the innovations discussed here is always market success and exploitation. Since about 85% of innovation activities are repetitive, some structure to innovation is clearly required. A well defined and implemented innovation process provides this basic structure or framework for establishing an innovation capability within an enterprise (Du Preez et al., 2006).

After the definition of innovation models, the historical development and the concrete functions of such models are briefly analyzed. Afterwards, the integration of Kanban and the Agile Innovation Framework itself will be presented.

Definition and Purpose

The goal of an innovation model is the development of innovations from idea to value creation in a continuous process. After generating ideas and identifying potential candidates in the first phase, development and market launch will follow in the second phase. This process helps companies continually drive new products, services or business models to market success.

Generations of Innovation Process Models

The evolution of innovation processes models has been extensively discussed in the literature (Rothwell 1994, Lercher, H 2017). To classify the Agile Innovation Framework, a quick overview of the model generations makes sense: After the first sequential models, Technology Push and Market Pull, followed the combination of concepts, the Network Approach and Open Innovation.

Abb. 1: Generations of Innovation Process Models

Functions of Current Innovation Models

The requirements for a sixth generation model have been characterized by Taferner (2017) by the following features:

  • Process includes
    • idea generation
    • concept development and evaluation
    • development
    • implementation
  • the innovation is triggered by a technology push, market pull or a combination of those
  • interdisciplinary approach
  • organizational and systems integration (including external networking)
  • flatter and more flexible organizational structures, including devolved decision making
  • feedback loops
  • not only focused on product innovation but also service, process
  • implementing life circle view for products

In addition, Lercher (2017) described the following features for the Big Picture model he developed:

  • the innovation strategy is embedded in the model
  • with the company’s vision and level of view
  • own section for finding innovation fields and gaps
  • including the necessary source of information
  • the four levels of innovation are included
  • model is very well structured, especially due to the stages and gates
  • own section for efficiency review.

The Backbone of the Agile Innovation Framework

On the way from idea to value creation, innovations go through two phases. After generating ideas and identifying potential candidates in the first phase, development and market launch will follow in the second phase. The Agile Innovation Framework provides methods for both phases by combining a structured innovation process with agile methods. The backbone is the concept of the FUGLE innovation process and a Kanban ESP system.

Abbildung 2: The FUGLE Innovation Process Model

In terms of concrete work processes, the previous innovation models remain abstract. They are limited to the definition of the process steps, but do not provide any practices for controlling the work steps. By connecting to Kanban ESP, the Agile Innovation Framework creates a concrete structure for these workflows.

Integrated Agile Methods

There are also other methods, such as design thinking or design sprints, which are used in the different phases of the innovation process. The integrated methods are not mixed, but function consistently with their specific functions in interaction.

Abbildung 3: The Agile Innovation Framework

Integration of Roles and Meetings

By integrating consistent, agile Methods, the Agile Innovation Framework also has a clear structure for roles, artifacts, and meetings, as the following definition of activities for operating and optimizing the workflow shows.

Abb.4: Kanban ESP meetings and activities

Integration of the Kanban Maturity Model (KMM)

The metrics defined in Kanban ESP provide options for assessing process quality and system fitness. With the integrated Kanban Maturity Model (KMM), it is also possible to determine the degree of maturity of the innovation model and to derive specific actions for optimization. Developed by David J. Anderson, KMM is a further development of the Capability Maturity Model (CMMI), which is widely used in the US to assess the maturity of IT companies.

Abb. 5: Kanban Board Patterns and Capability Maturity Levels

In  2009, H. Essmann and N. du Preez published the Innovation Maturity Model, also derived from CMMI.

Organisations are required, now more than ever, to grow and mature their innovation capability – rending consistent innovative outputs. This paper describes research conducted to consolidate the principles of innovation and identify the fundamental components that constitute organisational innovation capability.

Abb. 7: Innovation Capability Maturity Model (ICMM), H. Essmann und N. du Preez, 2009

The Kanban Maturity Model (KMM), which was introduced at the end of 2017, offers transformation steps to increase the maturity of organizations. Thus, the strength of the model is not the assessment “Where do we stand?”, But the integrated roadmap “What we need to do to reach the next level of maturity”. In this respect, the term “Maturity Model” is understated. In fact, it’s a full-fledged Knowledge Work Organization Improvement Framework.


Abb. 6: Kanban Maturity Model (KMM)

Agile Innovation Framework Overview

By connecting to Kanban ESP, the Agile Innovation Framework has a clear team, role and meeting structure. The integration of agile methods (e.g., Design Sprints) provides clear workflows. The new Kanban Maturity Model provides concrete metrics and fitness criteria for evaluating the maturity of agile practices. It also offers concrete options for improving capability.

Abb. 8: Agile Innovation Framework, F. Schultheiss 2017


It may be that the Agile Innovation Framework is “just” a Kanban Enterprise Service Planning System. It is a framework in which other frameworks, such as Scrum or Design Thinking, work consistently. The effectiveness then consists of the efficient linking and interaction of different methods and frameworks. On the other hand, the focus on innovation, which is not presented further here, speaks in favor of an in-depth discussion. Another focus is the support of creativity and idea generation from the beginning, which were also not further presented here. The entire Agile Innovation Framework will be presented at the DIGITAL INNOVATION CAMP in May 2018.

Frank Schultheiss, 2017



Du Preez, Niek & Louw, Louis & Essmann, Heinz. (2017). An Innovation Process Model for Improving Innovation Capability.


Du Preez, Niek & Louw, Louis. (2008). A framework for managing the innovation process. 546 – 558. 10.1109/PICMET.2008.4599663.

Rothwell, Roy. (1994). Towards the Fifth-Generation Innovation Process. International Marketing Review. 11. 7-31. 10.1108/02651339410057491.

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