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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 226 Class Central 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
    This is the 3rd Agile course I took from the University System of Maryland. Like the other two courses, I enjoyed this one too to a great deal. The videos were short and informative; not boring at all. Key concepts were explained properly and the examples that were used were very relevant. The videos are followed by summary points, which is actually a detailed not on the lecture/video. This is very helpful in organizing the studies. Overall I had a great learning experience and looking forward to completing all 5 of them!
  • 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 truly gave a deeper understanding on innovation as a whole and on innovation in Agile project management. Very enjoyable videos, entertaining teaching manner, lots of useful references. Tips & tricks not only for project management but for entrepreneurship as well. Many practical tools were reviewed in this course. Very inspiring and genial. I am leaving very inspired.
  • Anonymous
    I love the entire class, the videos are my favorite. I found it easy to navigate through. The tests/questions are easy only if you take your time to read through the class and take notes. I took detailed notes for each session so it made it easy to flip back into my notes to answer the weekly/per session tests.
  • 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
    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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Anonymous
    Well thought-out and referenced course. Lesson intros, videos, and recaps were helpful. Strongly recommend having a background/base knowledge in Agile before taking this course.
  • Anonymous
    Great course in applying agile to problems requiring innovation. The instructor provided great case studies and pertinent examples to aid in the material delivery.
  • Anonymous
    Very usefull course, it can used when you are working with a team, you can improve your skills and your team´s skills, also you can do better, faster and cheaper
  • Chad McCreight
    This was a great course to learn about the Agile approach to problem solving. Highly recommend this class to anyone trying to learn the Agile approach.
  • Anonymous
    Thank you, this course was really helpfull. I learn a lot of new things about agile and techniques for problem solving and how to manage the team in that road.
  • Anonymous
    Love this course, however, someone needs to proofread the lessons regarding spelling / grammar. This would give it a more polished appearance.
  • Anonymous
    This course is one of 5 courses that will help in Agile project management.

    These techniques can assist in many types of projects.
  • Anonymous
    I did not like it at all, the concepts are covered with superficiality and the examples are not consistent with what was explained.
  • Anonymous
    Excellent explanatory of innovation approaches and agile techniques including problem solving skills through 3 key approaches
  • Anonymous
    The course offers interesting ideas, anyway the analysis of a case study would be useful to consolidate the concepts.

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