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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 215 reviews

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
    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.
  • Anonymous
    Overall this course was good. I liked the fact that the sessions were bite sized and so it was easy to complete them. There were not many jargons and technical terms, and so someone without an engineering background was able to understand the contents without feeling lost. The lecturer was articulate and his voice/tone was good. You got a sense that he knew what he was talking about. It was applicable and relevant. The diagrams used, for me, were a bit confusing, but I realized that it may be not be so for others who take the time to really look at them. I particularly like the fact that after each video, the information is there in note format. That was very good and very helpful to me. Kudos.
  • 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.
  • Anonymous
    This is the third course I have completed out of the 5 related to Agile. Again I enjoyed the course as I have the first two - completing the first two prior made it I am sure a lot easier to follow/understand some parts than other people that have not. The documentation was improved on this third course compared to the second which was good to see (I didn’t mark the second course down for this as presume it may have been a tech issue). Again it has helped improve my knowledge further and learn new skills. Thank you.
  • Anonymous
    The way the course is set-up is very good. Self-paced, short but insightful videos, good cases in order to underpin the theoretical contents. Although it is a good repetition to do the knowledge checks as Multiple Choice questions, one small thing is missing in my opinion. In case one get's it wrong the 3rd time, there is no explaination for the correct answer. For me this was only relevant once or twice but I guess in case this would be more often, it could be difficult to have the right learning progress.
  • 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
    This course is part of a series in agile project management, and it seems to fit nicely with the previous two courses, however, many of the project used during the course as examples, are not very helpful to understand the course content. I guess this is because they were chosen based on the instructor's limited experiences managing projects, instead of on the example's merit as a teaching tool. Just my opinion anyways.
  • Anonymous
    Not being a part of an Agile team or utilizing Agile to solve business problems I face and may face some of the examples were a little difficult for me to follow. Overall the course was easy to follow and when I am doing work with an Agile team I feel much more confident in my ability to understand the process. And possibly even more important, how I can bring Agile and CI together in other projects.
  • Profile image for Kodjo WOKPOR
    Kodjo WOKPOR
    I'll like to thank prof John Johnson for being a great lecturer to teach us the contents of this course: Agile - Innovation - Problem Solving skills. I gain lot from this course: innovation challenges, the benefits of constraints situations ( use of TRIZ model to sort out solutions), leadinG innovation process and team and gettting things done. Be Agile can direct to innovative solution.
  • Erik Honigmann
    Awsome course, I learned a lot, you must use all of these techniques in your daily activities so you can practice. I am not in a PM possition but I manage people, and it´s very handy to know these technique, I believe it´s necesarry to have more cases or examples to practice more
  • Anonymous
    The course delivers great insights into innovation processes and how to manage innovation by applying strategic constraints. The tutor sparks interest for further education on the topic. Also the course manages well to balance between theoretical knowledge and real-world examples.
  • Anonymous
    The course was interesting; however, for me, it was somewhat a lot deeper than I needed as it relates to my present role. The Class Central Feedback quiz is a challenge as it asks for 'tags' associated with the course and offers a variety of 'select all that apply'.
  • Anonymous
    It was very well paced. Many concepts that were covered were things that you need everyday in the fast paced digital world today. Real life examples made it really easy to relate. The quizzes and the final examination were the icing on the cake.
  • Anonymous
    Excellent course! I really enjoy taking this (3rd on my path to certification) course. It guides you on how to solve "unsolvable" problems, how to deal with uncertainty, revisit one of my favorites: the Vanishing Cloud. Strongly recommended!
  • Mahmoud Osama Mohamed
    It was a great insightful courses with Many Important Techniques and Topics

    I recommend it to anyone who wants to start learning about agile project management in general and Innovation and problem solving specifically
  • Anonymous
    Happy to take this course. I learn a lot from there something about agile, innovative, and how to solve problem…etc. It’s very useful and helpful.
    Thank to the teacher details instructions and the notes after courses.
  • Emmanuel Ameh
    Agile Innovation and Problem Solving Skills is essential for all agile projects members to take as it helps you know how to bring in innovation around areas that can get you stuck in the project.
  • Anonymous
    I find it extremely hard to go through this course online and some of the questions are hard to understand. Definitely not an easy course for those who are thinking of enrolling.

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