Agile Innovation and Problem Solving Skills

Agile problem solvers use critical thinking to develop products and solutions. Learn to target the right problem to solve, understand the business model, and innovate.

Course 3 of 5: Professional Certificate in Agile Project Management 4 weeks total 2 – 3 hours each week recommended
   
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About this course

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).

What you’ll learn

  • How Agile manages solution risk and return more effectively
  • Accurate, effective requirements gathering that avoids delusionary “perspective taking”
  • Paradox of structure, aka “how constraints drive creativity and luck!”
  • Test-driven development for faster, better solutions in complex systems
  • How to target scope to meet Performance Objectives via the Theory of Constraints

Syllabus

  • 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.

Meet Your Instructors

John Johnson

John Johnson

Adjunct Professor, Clarke School of Engineering, College Park; Chief Technology Officer, Softek Enterprises LLC at
Mr. Johnson, serves as the Chief Technology Officer for Softek Enterprises LLC, a minority-owned small business providing technology solutions to government clients since 2007. Softek specializes in evolving business systems using Agile, DevOps, and Cloud technologies to deliver working solutions faster for the government’s most critical IT challenges. He has 10 years of project management, systems engineering, and advanced analytics experience. Prior to joining Softek, Mr. Johnson co-founded Second Nature Software LLC, a data science products company focused on Life Science Research. He helped design and promote their product “Rocketfish,” a data management tool that simplifies preparing data for analysis while automating data tracking and organization. Rocketfish is currently in an organization-wide trial at NCI and NIAID, as well as major universities in the DC Metro Area. Previously, Mr. Johnson was a Senior Agile Project Manager with IBM, where he led multiple development teams building applications for the National Archives Records Administration (NARA). These applications were built on Amazon’s Gov Cloud (AWS) with cutting-edge cloud technologies to process, store, and search the hundreds of petabytes of government records expected at NARA by 2020. This project won “Project of the Year” across all of IBM globally for its success in project management innovation. He also worked as a Management Consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton, where he led projects for the Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy from optimizing site investments and posture for Reserve forces, to developing award-winning project analysis and portfolio management software to optimize billions in shore energy investments. Mr. Johnson holds a Masters in Systems Engineering and a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Maryland.
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Experience Level

Advanced

Learning Partner

University System of Maryland

Program Type

Professional Certificate

Subject

Business & Management Philosophy & Ethics
Advanced Business Harvard X-Series