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University of Exeter Business School

Agile Innovation

Module titleAgile Innovation
Module codeBEMM222
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Bill Russell (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks

1 week (4 days)

2 weeks (8 days)

Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

In a world increasingly characterised as VUCA – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – few things are assured. We can be relatively certain that an insatiable demand for high quality products and services will only be met by individuals and organisations who invest in learning how to manage innovation within an increasingly digital world. While stakeholders are rarely willing to compromise on quality, the demand for value is greater than ever. Traditional business models are increasingly being turned on their head in both B2C and B2B markets. Organisations of all sizes and missions are facing growing pressure from cost-conscious and eco-aware customers, employees and governments, who are demanding affordable, sustainable and high-quality products that work in the digital era. The module addresses these challenges through integrating innovation, the creation of value from ideas, and entrepreneurship, the skills and ideas to make innovation happen.

Research demonstrates that innovative organisations outperform, in both employment and sales, firms that fail to innovate. To support individuals with either limited or extensive business experience seeking to develop a new innovation mindset and toolkit, the Agile Innovation module focuses on developing the dynamic capabilities that entrepreneurs need to innovate in demanding global and technology driven environments. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim is to provide an understanding of how entrepreneurs and managers can deal with ongoing innovation in service and manufacturing settings. It will explore the enablers and blockers to the innovation process within a number of different contexts including start-ups, scale-up enterprises, established organizations and public sector/NGO institutions considering both B2C and B2B requirements.   A key aim is for students to understand the strategic as well as operational issues that affect the innovation process and to equip both aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs to deal with them. The course will explore how organizations can create value – social or commercial – through the application of ideas.  It will also raise the question of whether innovation is always a good thing and how we can develop approaches towards ‘responsible’ innovation.

The module will explore the challenges in establishing and sustaining innovation across a spectrum of novelty and risk. We will deep dive into do better, do radical, do different, and disruptive innovation. Learners will be introduced to a range of enabling tools, models and structures that will equip them to drive forward new ventures within both established and early-stage organisations.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. evaluate the significance of innovation and how it links to wider strategic and operational issues;
  • 2. identify the variety of ways that “do better” and “do different” innovation can take place;
  • 3. recognise how Agile Innovation is mobilised through self-organizing and cross-functional teams;
  • 4. apply a range of innovation tools to transform a range of inputs into differentiated offerings;
  • 5. contrast how different organizational factors influence the operationalization of the innovation process;
  • 6. diagnose barriers to innovation, and demonstrate the significance of dynamic capabilities.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. integrate innovation - creating value from ideas - and entrepreneurship - the skills and ideas to make innovation happen;
  • 8. assess the factors that increase the success of innovation projects.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. demonstrate effective written, visual and oral communication skills;
  • 10. demonstrate effective independent and group study research skills.

Syllabus plan

1. Innovation as a Core Business process

  • What is innovation and why does it matter?
  • How does the internet change the context of innovation forever?
  • Why do we talk about the “Fourth industrial Revolution” and & what’s this got to do with innovating?
  • How organizations are on an innovation journey, through which the build new innovation capabilities
  • Why is data at the centre of much innovation in the 2020s?
  • How can we use digital tools to innovate?
  • Exploring the technology enabled innovation space
  • The inter-relationship between Entrepreneurship and Innovation

2. Managing the Agile Innovation Process

  • Where and how to search
  • Selecting and building opportunities
  • Implementation
  • Capturing value

3. Building Dynamic Capabilities

  • Evolving repeatable innovation capabilities
  • Strategy: Planning for the future
  • People: Leadership, teams, organization
  • Learning through doing
  • Making innovation happen

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity84 (3 X 28)Shipped Learning: The module embraces the “flipped classroom”, which means that students are guided to prepare independently for lectures through engaging with content outside the lecture theatre, so that we can explore faster and deeper in class.
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity63 (3 x 21)Classroom Learning: A mixture of lectures, case studies, student presentations and videos.
Guided Independent Study76Individual Assessment: Deep dive into a maximum of two innovation themes, and consider how they play out in a specific context, e.g. a start-up, scale-up or established organization.
Guided Independent Study77Group Assessment: Carry out research to assess the “Innovation Fitness” of an organization. The group will create a 10 minute “Executive Summary” video accompanied by an Innovation Fitness Report (2000 words per student). The video and report will analyse how well the organisation manages innovation, and will include prioritised recommendations to improve innovation performance.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentation: “Innovation as a Core Innovation Process”15 minutes1-2, 7-10Verbal, in class
Group presentation: “Managing the Agile Innovation Process”15 minutes3-4, 7-10Verbal, in class
Group presentation: “Building Dynamic Capabilities”15 minutes5-6, 7-10Verbal, in class

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individual Report503,750 word report 1-10Written
Group Report506-8,000 word report (2000 words per student: Groups of three – maximum four).1-10Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Individual ReportIndividual Report1-106 weeks after original marks given back to student. See re-assessment notes for detail.
Group ReportIndividual Report1-106 weeks after original marks given back to student. See re-assessment notes for detail.

Re-assessment notes

Individual: Select a maximum of two innovation themes that they did not explore in their original individual submission. Write a 3,750 word report on the two themes highlighting the key ideas, drawing out some key messages about how to manage innovation for the leadership teams of a start-up or scale-up enterprise, or an Innovation Manager in an established organization.

Group: Submit a revised 3,750 word “Executive Summary” report on an individual basis assessing the “Innovation Fitness” of an organization. The report will analyse how well the organisation manages innovation, and will include prioritised recommendations to improve innovation performance.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Ahead of each class, students will be expected to engage with a mix of video material and book chapters from Strategic Innovation Management, Tidd, J and Bessant, J (2014).

Recommended texts:

  1. Tidd, J and Bessant, J (2014). Strategic Innovation Management, Wiley. ISBN 978-1-118-45723-8
  2. Tidd, J and Bessant, J (2021). Managing Innovation, Wiley. ISBN 978-1-119- 71330-2
  3. Brown, A (2019). Delivering Digital Transformation, De Gruyter

Other resources:

  1. Dodgson, M, Gann, D and Phillips, N, (2014), The Oxford Handbook of Innovation Management, Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-969494-5
  2. Bessant, J. (2018), Riding the Innovation Wave, Emerald. ISBN 978-1-78714-570-2
  3. Radjou, N and Prabhu, J,(2015), Frugal Innovation, Profile. ISBN 978-1-78125-375-5
  4. Osterwalder, A, Pigneur, Y, Bernarda, G, and Smith, A. (2014) Value Proposition Design, Wiley ISBN 978-1-118-96805-5
  5. Viki, T, Toma D, and Gons, E (2017) The Corporate Startup, vakmedianet ISBN 978-9-46276-150-6

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Business Source Complete, Proquest Business Premium and Emerald Insight, along with extensive use of video material.

Key words search

Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Agile, Start-up, Scaling up,  Business Model Innovation

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Last revision date