Getting Started: Agile Meets Design Thinking

About this course: Despite everyone's good intentions, hard work and solid ideas, too many projects end up creating unneeded, unusable, and unsellable products. But it doesn't have to be this way. Agile and design thinking offer a different--and effective--approach to product development, one that results in valuable solutions to meaningful problems. In this course, you’ll learn how to determine what's valuable to a user early in the process--to frontload value--by focusing your team on testable narratives about the user and creating a strong shared perspective. We’ll show you how to: - Explain key concepts and practices from the agile product development methodology - Create a strong shared perspective and drive to value using personas and problem scenarios - Diagnose what software to develop and why using a set of agile user stories and prototypes - Facilitate narrative collaboration with user stories and prototypes - Allow for early testing and validation by analyzing and deciding on story backlogs As a Project Management Institute (PMI®) Registered Education Provider, the University of Virginia Darden School of Business has been approved by PMI to issue professional development units (PDUs) for this course, which focuses on core competencies recognized by PMI. (Provider #2122)

Created by:   University of Virginia

  • Alex Cowan
    Taught by:    Alex Cowan, Faculty & Batten Fellow
    Darden School of Business
Basic Info
Course 1 of 5 in the Agile Development Specialization.
Commitment5 weeks of study, 2 - 5 hours/week
How To PassPass all graded assignments to complete the course.
User Ratings
Average User Rating 4.6See what learners said
Problems Agile Solves
The practices that deliver excellent product are well understood, but rarely seen. In this module, we’ll identify what’s hard about creating excellent products and how agile can help. We'll begin with a discussion of the Agile Manifesto, introduce key agile terminology, and explore how agile arose from previous development practices. Then we'll look at what makes implementing agile so challenging and make a case for why it's worth it and how to do it. By the end of this module, you'll have a solid understanding of agile processes and be prepared to use the Venture Design Template to work through project development and drive toward valuable outcomes.

17 videos4 readings
  1. Video: Welcome to the Agile Specialization
  2. Video: Welcome to the Agile Specialization (Spanish)
  3. Video: Welcome to the Agile Specialization (Chinese)
  4. Reading: Course Overview & Requirements
  5. Reading: Get to Know Your Classmates in Discussion Forums
  6. Video: What Is Agile?
  7. Video: Agile for Managers
  8. Video: Agile for Specialists
  9. Video: Agile 101
  10. Video: Today's Best Practices
  11. Video: Scale Friendly vs. Innovation Friendly
  12. Video: What Makes Agile Hard
  13. Video: The Blue Button Moment
  14. Video: Culture of Experimentation
  15. Video: The Manifesto in Practice
  16. Video: The Venture Design Framework
  17. Video: Greg Cohen on Getting Started with Agile
  18. Video: Bill Wake on Getting Started with Agile
  19. Video: How to Learn
  20. Reading: The Venture Design Template
  21. Reading: Week 1 Slides
Graded: Week 1 Quiz
Agile Design with Personas, Problem Scenarios, and Alternatives
The best way to avoid building something nobody wants is to start with somebody in mind. That "somebody" is a persona. Personas and problem scenarios tie development to the end user and help you drive toward a valuable solution. In this module, you’ll learn to develop personas, problem scenarios, and alternatives using best practices from design thinking.

11 videos1 reading
  1. Video: Design Thinking for Agile User Stories
  2. Video: Meet the Companies: HVAC in a Hurry and Enable Quiz
  3. Video: Creating and Using Personas
  4. Video: Focusing Your Persona: Think, See, Feel, Do
  5. Video: Demo: Using the Venture Design Template
  6. Video: Demo: Drafting Personas
  7. Video: Demo: Drafting Think, See, Feel, Do
  8. Video: Designing User Stories: Problem Scenarios
  9. Video: Needfinding with Problem Scenarios
  10. Video: Skit: Meet the HVAC in a Hurry Team
  11. Video: Skit: Dani's Meeting with the CEO
  12. Discussion Prompt: Practice for the Assignment: Write a Persona
  13. Reading: Week 2 Slides
Graded: Week 2 Quiz
Writing Great Agile User Stories
Creating software that meets users' need begins with understanding that user--and user stories are a tool that helps teams understand the end-user perspective.The agile user story is the focal point for just about everything that follows. This is where we diagnose what we think we should do for the user and why, and how we’ll know if we did something relevant (or created waste). In this module, you'll learn how to conduct effective, efficient discovery, from creating an interview guide to interviewing users. You'll finish with creating Google AdWords-ready copy and drafting your personas, problem scenarios and alternatives.

7 videos3 readings
  1. Video: User Research for Busy People
  2. Video: Researching Personas
  3. Video: Demo: Creating an Interview Guide: Personas
  4. Video: Demo: Creating an Interview Guide: Problem Scenarios
  5. Video: Skit: Interviewing Trent the Technician
  6. Video: Demo: Designing Google AdWords
  7. Video: Enhancing Your Problem Hypothesis
  8. Reading: Week 3 Slides
  9. Reading: Personas for Needfinding, Design, and Growth
  10. Reading: The Customer Discovery Handbook: Persona and Problem Hypothesis
Graded: Personas, Problem Scenarios & Propositions
Enhancing Your User Story
Now that you've "discovered" your user, you'll write your user story--and you'll make it great by layering in details. In this module, you'll learn to create detailed, specific user stories to anchor your project. 

18 videos2 readings
  1. Video: Preparing for Great User Stories
  2. Video: Writing Great User Stories
  3. Video: Adding Test Cases to User Stories
  4. Video: Skit: From Problem Scenarios to Epic User Stories
  5. Video: Demo: Drafting Epic User Stories
  6. Video: Demo: Drafting Child Stories
  7. Discussion Prompt: Practice for the Assignment: User Stories
  8. Video: Better Narrative, Better Story
  9. Video: Investable Stories
  10. Video: Coaching for Better User Stories
  11. Video: A Prototype Is Worth a Thousand Meetings
  12. Video: Designing a Meeting with User Stories
  13. Video: Using "Day in the Life" to Drive Empathy
  14. Video: Demo: Storyboarding an Epic
  15. Video: Skit: Drafting Epics from Problem Scenarios
  16. Video: Skit: Storyboarding an Epic
  17. Video: Skit: Child Stories and Test Cases
  18. Video: Demo: Drafting Problem Scenarios, Alternatives, and Value Propositions
  19. Video: Bill Wake on INVEST
  20. Reading: Your Best Agile User Story
  21. Reading: Week 4 Slides
  22. Discussion Prompt: Please help us improve the course!
Graded: Week 4 Quiz
Graded: User Stories
Finish User Stories Assignment and Optional Content with an IT Focus: Strategy-Driven Process Design
First, use this week to finish up your User Story Assignment and complete peer reviews.Then, if you're interested in IT, let's talk process. What? Process? While you’ve learned that the agile manifesto explicitly reacted to primary/excessive use of tools and processes, agile is not categorically the enemy of process. After all, most of what we do follows some kind of process/habit. In this module, you’ll learn how to use thoughtful, adaptive processes as a tool both for your internal processes as well as for prototyping for work in enterprise software.

15 videos3 readings
  1. Video: The Problem with IT Projects
  2. Video: The 20-Minute Strategy Brief
  3. Video: IT Strategy Brief: Value Definition
  4. Video: IT Strategy Brief: The Customer Journey
  5. Video: IT Strategy Brief: Key Activities
  6. Video: Demo: Business Model Canvas Template
  7. Video: Demo: Using Google Docs for Your Business Model Canvas
  8. Video: Drafting a Process Inventory from Key Activities
  9. Video: Prototyping with Process
  10. Video: An Example of Prototyping with Process
  11. Video: Demo: Sketching a Process Design
  12. Video: Validation Criteria: 0, 30, 90 Days
  13. Video: Skit: Process Design
  14. Video: Skit: Validation Criteria
  15. Video: Course Summary
  16. Reading: The 20-Minute Business Plan: Business Model Canvas Made Easy
  17. Reading: The Enterprise Software Playbook - 6 Steps to Better Deployments
  18. Reading: Week 5 Slides
How It Works
Each course is like an interactive textbook, featuring pre-recorded videos, quizzes and projects.
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University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is distinctive among institutions of higher education. Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, and located on a World Heritage site in Charlottesville, the University sustains the ideal of developing, through education, leaders who are well-prepared to help shape the future of the nation. The University is public, while nourished by the strong support of its alumni. It is also selective; the students who come here have been chosen because they show the exceptional promise Jefferson envisioned.

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