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University System of Maryland

Agile Innovation and Problem Solving Skills

University System of Maryland and University of Maryland, College Park via edX


Innovative products and services change lives, and having the right innovative process creates an competitive advantage. Ultimately, innovation is about one thing: problem solving.

As an agile problem solver, you'll need to expand your critical thinking skills to address the key sources of risk in developing best solutions for your new products and business lines. The Problem-solving techniques covered begin with problem definition, beginning with job descriptions and applying the right soft skills to enhance requirements gathering. This ensures you're targeting a good problem to solve, and that you understand the business model. The course then moves on to practices such as "brainstorm and storm drain" to target new creative solutions. You will learn how innovation works on fast feedback cycles to test possible solutions and target root causes of defects. Creative thinking isn't a straight line, and neither should the problem-solving process be a straight line. Each course of action needs early and frequent testing.

Key lessons taught in this course are:

  • Delivering business value, not technical scope with User Stories

  • Why innovating is the key to risk management and gaining a competitive advantage

  • The best innovation process for startups in new markets or disruptive innovations, versus sustaining product and process innovations

  • How to employ an innovation process that fits your business model and situation

  • Using Cross-functional teams and user stories to gather accurate requirements

  • Leveraging constraints to apply tested solutions to new technology and new innovations

  • Applying Test-Driven Design (TDD) to deliver better designs with less designing

By following best practices of Agile, including timeboxes, constraint-based thinking processes, and empathetic problem solving, you'll learn how to provide a sustainable innovation environment for your teams.

While this course will not make you an agile certified practitioner (PMI-ACP), or certified scrum master (CSM), it offers a more fundamental agile certification based on agile principles and how agile innovation is accomplished in industry today. You'll finish this course more than ready to continue your agile journey, which we hope takes you to the next course in the series on “Agile Leadership Principles and Practices.”

Upon successful completion of this course, learners can earn 10 Professional Development Unit (PDU) credits, which are recognized by the Project Management Institute (PMI). PDU credits are essential to those looking to maintain certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP).

Upon successful completion of this course, learners can earn 10 Professional Development Unit (PDU) credits, which are recognized by the Project Management Institute (PMI). PDU credits are essential to those looking to maintain certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP).


  • Week 1: The first week of Innovation revisits concepts of capability delivery from technical perspective; asking how do we achieve a project's purpose to innovate? What are the risks and methods to be successful in delivering a defined output under uncertain conditions? Here the Theory of Constraints (TOC) is used to target innovation for maximum impact.

  • Week 2: The second week dives into the requirements gathering and validation process, and the science behind the most powerful requirement tool, a User Story, and how it forms the basis for Test-Drive Development (TDD).

  • Week 3: The third week looks at how adding constraints to solutioning unleashes creativity, luck, and productivity towards solving hard, uncertain problems.

  • Week 4: The fourth week culminates with the application of the TOC Thinking Processes, User Stories, and Constraints along with the use of the powerful system engineering solutioning techniques (isolation, absorption, acceleration, etc.) and tools like TRIZ.

Taught by

John Johnson


4.5 rating, based on 263 Class Central reviews

4.6 rating at edX based on 18 ratings

Start your review of Agile Innovation and Problem Solving Skills

  • I really enjoyed this course. The videos, real-life examples, and test cases were interesting and stimulating. It was interesting to see how different skill sets were pulled into the process of innovation. Overall, it was very enjoyable and informative.
  • Anonymous
    The Agile Innovation and Problem Solving Skills training went above and beyond what I expected. Through concrete examples and real-world situations John  made difficult topics understandable. The course's hands-on methodology, which included interactive exercises enabled me to apply what I had learned from day one. A great learning experience was guaranteed by the thorough materials and good facilitation. I've gained useful agile problem-solving abilities from this training and  as a transformational investment in one's future, I wholeheartedly endorse it.
  • Arkar Htet
    The "Agile Innovation and Problem Solving Skills" course available through the University System of Maryland via edX is a wonderfully crafted online resource. The video lessons are engaging and filled with expert insights that make complex concepts easily understandable. This course has greatly enhanced my problem-solving skills within an Agile framework, blending theoretical knowledge with practical applications seamlessly. The instructors bring a wealth of experience and a clear passion for teaching, which resonates through their enthusiastic delivery. This course has been an excellent tool for me, boosting both my creativity and efficiency in professional settings.
  • Anonymous
    Excellent. The course is well-designed and has excellent content. Perfect course to improve your knowledge in Agile. I gained a lot of interesting and valuable information that I'm sure I will apply at my work. I would highly recommend the five course Agile Project Management program.
  • Anonymous
    Content´s been OK, but lot´s of revision of previous courses of the program if you already took them.
    Some of the text´s supplied would benefit from a better structure to make them easier accessable.
    other than that - solid course, solid quizzes, solid presenting
  • Anonymous
    This 4 week course on Agile Innovation and Problem Solving Skills is full of information with good contents. It started with well defined means of various terms with focus on innovation, how to search solutions against various project uncertainties, how to get closely requirements (i.e. get perspective approach against take perspective approach and most importantly indulge in verbal communication to the extent possible), to know power of constraints and to solve these uncertainties with various well defines means like use of TRIZ and MBSE. At the end, course also covered useful topics that how to lead and control innovation. These have been explained with many case studies.
  • Profile image for Jorge Ramírez Cacho
    Jorge Ramírez Cacho
    Great course by Mr. John Johnson. Gives you a lot of information; tools and techniques of how to see, with a more efficient perspective, day to day problems and know what to do in each situation. I enjoyed a lot!
  • Anonymous
    I thoroughly enjoyed this course. The real-life examples assisted me in understanding the concepts of Agile and the process of solving problems. I will definitely recommend this to friends.
    It is the excellent Couse to understanding the problem and solving it by testing driven development techniques. it improves my skill and knowledge to handle project.
  • Anonymous
    Good course! I have not used Agile before, so there were some software things in questions I did not understand, but overall good!
  • Elvio Paschoal Chufuli Junior
    I really appreciate this course ! I can learn a lot about agile methodology ! Now I can use in day and share with knowledge.
  • Anonymous
    I really enjoyed this course, it was full of amazing information, and they used a very realistic examples for us to understand
  • Anonymous
    Top-tier Agile course! Clear, concise, and practical. Highly recommended for mastering Agile methodologies.
  • Profile image for Daniel Romero A.
    Daniel Romero A.
    Excellent course!, i'm a systems engineer and it answered the doubts i was having about my startup, its a breath of fresh air about business and project management considerations for those aiming at innovation, it continues a series of other courses focused on agile management concepts relatable to everyone with a business. I highly recommend it to everyone on the startup path.
  • Dimitar Pavlov Ganchev
    I found the course to be very enlightening, all of the lectures had information that could be applied in business, government and even every day personal life decision making. That for me, meant that I have made the right decision to sign up for a verified certificate. The lecturer does e very great job in explaining the material and provides real life examples which makes it easier to understand the subject of the matter. Even if a person does not particularly work in a field directly connected to engineering or project management, I am sure that everybody would be able to gain something from signing up for the course.
  • Skender Dega
    Excellent. The course is well-designed and has excellent content. The course provides evidence-based approaches to agile project management and demonstrates an awareness of what motivates teams to understand the customer context, perform well, and deliver on time.
  • Vaibhav Surwade
    This was great course for me, especially working in the Agile environment for 4 years. This course was able to give me theoretical view to the Agile and it will be used in my real life work experience.

  • Anonymous
    Enjoyed this course and as well as the content which facilitator described about is really helpful. It is really going to help us in Agile Project Management. I will be applying all these skills while executing any project in coming future.
  • Anonymous
    A great survey of agile innovation methods. One of the best features is the excellent list of references following each week's lessons. Some of my favorites have appeared in the list, and I'm planning to pick up others.
  • Anonymous
    The videos, real-life examples, and test cases were interesting and stimulating. It was interesting to see how different skill sets were pulled into the process of innovation. Overall, it was informative

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