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Online Course

Agile Innovation and Problem Solving Skills

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


Version 2 of this course series delivers beyond the original agile certification. It includes updated content, better audit and verified learner experiences, and bonus videos on key topics.

The follow-on to this course series on “Advanced Scrum” is expected by the end of Summer 2020. ****

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


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4.6 rating, based on 85 reviews

Start your review of Agile Innovation and Problem Solving Skills

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    Well designed course with great content. The course teaches evidence-based approaches to agile project management, and shows an understanding of what drives teams to understand the client context, perform, and deliver with a high success rate. I'm a project manager with an Australian university, and I'm already applying many of the principles and practices to improve our performance in education projects. Well done!
  • Venkatesh Ganpatrao Hegde

    Venkatesh Ganpatrao Hegde completed this course.

    The course has been very useful in setting the tone and mind set for innovative and out of the box thinking required to be a successful leader. A must for every person who aspires to be an effective leader
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This course goes into a lot of theories and studies performed, so it's important to stay focused and keep up with the topic being discussed. I really enjoyed learning about the history that led to Agile.
  • Sulayman Humberto Miguel

    Sulayman Humberto Miguel completed this course.

    It`s really amazing I learn a lot, is very easy to learn this way. I recomend i,m very thankful is simple
  • Profile image for Warren Laine-naida
    Warren Laine-naida

    Warren Laine-naida completed this course.

    I have taken all five Agile courses in the Project Management set. John is an amazing presenter, and the material is fantastic. Much, much better than other online courses I have taken. 6/5 stars!
  • Nimal Amaranayake

    Nimal Amaranayake completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

    Great opportunity for self learners to improve their knowledge. The course structure and materials are well organised. The reference links and books given are very much useful as well.
  • Martha R. Vargas C.

    Martha R. Vargas C. completed this course.

    A very interesting course. Complete and Concrete. I have learned a lot and obtained useful and practical information, specially concepts and possibilites. Thanks a lot.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Great class tackling constraints on a project and various ways to break the bottlenecks down, good intro to a few known methods as well. Worth the class, well presented.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Simples, pratico e muito instrutivo. Recomendo não pensava que aprender fosse tão facil.
    Achei que fosse mais um curso mais foi surpreendido pela Positiva.
  • AA

    AA completed this course, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    This course is rich in knowledge. I have learned many things here. Things like constraints, innovation, vanishing cloud, theory of luck and many others.
  • Anonymous
    Thank you, This is really good! I have learned a lot with the help of the videos and summary! I hope to receive my certificate :)
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Great course! too many tools to put in practice! Also, the explanation is very clear and helps to understand everything.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    E' un corso molto interessante e ottimi sono i video e le traduzioni. Aiuta molto ad entrare nel mondo Agile
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I found the content to be more of a fly-by than something you could actually put to use. Many tools and techniques were mentioned in passing e.g. TRIZ, then the course moved on to the next thing. I would have liked to have a couple of through-going...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    The Agile Innovation and Problem Solving Skills Course was a very organized and informative class. It is self-paced, so if you need to go over any material again, you can. There is always a pre-reading section, followed by a video lecture and then a summary...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This course taught me about project management principles and key planning techniques to help me succeed in aligning objectives, managing accurate requirements and dealing with uncertainty during an Agile project.

    The course focused on managing solution risk and returns more effectively and maximizing the value of requirements gathering during Agile projects.

    The course was particularly valuable in clarifying issues I had previously noted on Performance Objectives and The Theory of Constraints. It also focused on Test-Driven development for faster, better solutions in complex systems.

    I enjoyed hearing about real-world projects like Naval Energy and NASA.

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Course taken as part of Agile Project Management Certificate from UMD. This course was more theoretical in nature. However, like the other courses, it contained a healthy mix of theory and practical real life examples. In particular, enjoyed the week on Startup, Product, and Process Innovation. The week on User Story development was useful from an Agile perspective. The concepts related to batching and scaling were also helpful. This course was primarily focused on scope management from an Agile perspective. Recommended especially for people who are interested in exploring the scope part of Agile.

    Muhammad S.

  • Géraldine Buxant

    Géraldine Buxant completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.

    I actually binge-read this class.
    I really like how the course is structured: short intro, video section, summary of the video, and then a small quiz.
    I was already familiar with some of the content so it allowed me to go fast too.
    Some of the videos (examples such as the Navy one) don't bring much learning compared to the rest of the course but I guess it's useful for somebody lacking working experience.
    I believe some of the content will in fact be useful for my job at some point.
    Clearly this course wasn't time wasted.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Well structured content covering a lot of topics. The course gave me some insight on ideas and principles I haven't been familiar with like TRIZ, TOC or Perspective Getting. Therefore the course encouraged me to learn more on the theoretical background of agile methods (references to books and online documentation is always given at the end of each module). In addition it gave me some more confidence that agile project managment really works and is more than just a "fashion".
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    The Agile Innovation and Problem Solving Skills fitted in well with the other modules. I loved the overlap as it gave me an opportunity to recap previous work. The complete nature of the work was amazing as it really gives you a whole system of problem solving, Agile is now so much clearer and the fit with TOC has improved so much of how we do projects. In short John has been amazing. I am so used to him that I do not know how I will cope with another lecturer.

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