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University of Virginia

Hypothesis-Driven Development

University of Virginia via Coursera


To deliver agile outcomes, you have to do more than implement agile processes- you have to create focus around what matters to your user and constantly test your ideas. This is easier said than done, but most of today’s high-functioning innovators have a strong culture of experimentation. In this course, you’ll learn how to identify the right questions at the right time, and pair them with the right methods to do just enough testing to make sure you minimize waste and maximize the outcomes you create with your user. This course is supported by the Batten Institute at UVA’s Darden School of Business. The Batten Institute’s mission is to improve the world through entrepreneurship and innovation:


  • How Do We Know if We're Building for a User that Doesn't Exist?
    • How do you go from backlog grooming to blockbuster results with agile? Hypothesis-driven decisions. Specifically, you need to shift your teammates focus from their natural tendency to focus on their own output to focusing out user outcomes. Easier said than done, but getting everyone excited about results of an experiment is one of the most reliable ways to get there. This week, we’ll focus on how you get started in a practical way.
  • How Do We Reduce Waste & Increase Wins by Testing Our Propositions Before We Build Them?
    • Nothing will help a team deliver better outcomes like making sure they’re building something the user values. This might sound simple or obvious, but I think after this week it’s likely you’ll find opportunities to help improve your team’s focus by testing ideas more definitively before you invest in developing software. In this module, you’ll learn how to make concept testing an integral part of your product pipeline. We’ll continue to apply methods from Lean Startup, looking at how they pair with agile. We’ll look at how high-functioning teams design and run situation-appropriate experiments to test ideas, and how that works before the fact (when you’re testing an idea) and after the fact (when you’re testing the value of software you’ve released).
  • How Do We Consistently Deliver Great Usability?
    • The best products are tested for usability early and often, avoiding the destructive stress and uncertainty of a "big unveil." In this module, you’ll learn how to diagnose, design and execute phase-appropriate user testing. The tools you’ll learn to use here (a test plan template, prototyping tool, and test session infrastructure) are accessible/teachable to anyone on your team. And that’s a very good thing -- often products are released with poor usability because there "wasn’t enough time" to test it. With these techniques, you’ll be able to test early and often, reinforcing your culture of experimentation.
  • How Do We Invest to Move Fast?
    • You’ve learned how to test ideas and usability to reduce the amount of software your team needs to build and to focus its execution. Now you’re going to learn how high-functioning teams approach testing of the software itself. The practice of continuous delivery and the closely related Devops movement are changing the way we build and release software. It wasn’t that long ago where 2-3 releases a year was considered standard. Now, Amazon, for example, releases code every 11.6 seconds. This week, we’ll look at the delivery pipeline and step through what successful practitioners do at each stage and how you can diagnose and apply the practices that will improve your implementation of agile.

Taught by

Alex Cowan


4.7 rating at Coursera based on 950 ratings

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