The topic "beyond Scrum -- lean enterprise" inspired me in an area of research and development (R&D). May I present to you my idea below, which we have already implemented and tested successfully at youngculture.com
Smaller and mid-size companies usually don't have their own R&D department, nor someone who takes care of planning and controlling R&D. On the other hand, companies that are delivery driven (I mean here not only software development companies) often have "spare time," e.g., time in between projects that needs to be filled with valuable tasks.
Lean enterprise: Agile R&D stream
Scrum gives a structured style of task definition, review, and control within a defined time frame. That led me to this setup idea:
R&D meetings (planning/review/retrospective)
The management, business representives, line managers, and so on, as well as "regular" employees, act as one team and, together, define and prioritize the R&D backlog items that give value to employees but also to the whole company. This team is more the supporting line than the project organization of a company. By which I mean that there will be the most participants in this team, acting most of the time in delivery and project organization. This means the sprint length has to be longer than usual, e.g., one month at minimum. This is needed to ensure output during those "spare" times.
If a team member has some spare time, he can serve himself from the R&D sprint backlog with a story that he's interested in personally and that matches his timing. If somebody has taken on a story in this way, he has to document it and present results in the appropriate sprint review meeting. Otherwise everything is handled just as in a normal Scrum sprint.
Advantages of the Agile R&D stream
Authority but also accountability is given to everybody in the company regarding R&D (top down and bottom up)
Tasks for spare times are planned in advance and generate business value
R&D is established in a structured way, but without any conflict to delivery.
Our first experiences were satisfaction on management's part, but also on the employee level. This method supports self-organization, everybody can decide for himself about a project to take on, we didn't lose any time in finding good topics to research, and all employees profited from the results -- and ultimately the company did, too.
For more about personal field experiences in Scrum, visit my blog at http://mirkokleiner.wordpress.com