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Despite everyone's good intentions, hard work and solid ideas, too many teams end up creating products that no one wants, no one can use, and no one buys. 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.

As a Project Management Institute (PMI®) Registered Education Provider, the University of Virginia Darden School of Business has been approved by PMI to issue 25 professional development units (PDUs) for this course, which focuses on core competencies recognized by PMI. (Provider #2122)

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: www.batteninstitute.org.


Problems Agile Solves
-The agile practices that deliver excellent product are well understood, but they take focus, energy, and confidence to apply. This week, 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- what motivated it and how it defines agile. Then we’ll get into the practical part- the problems agile solves, how to focus your time and energy, and how you’ll know if your practice of agile is working.

Focusing Your Agile with Personas, Problem Scenarios, and Alternatives
-The best way to avoid building something nobody wants is to start with somebody in mind. In the design world, we talk about that "somebody" through a ‘persona’. Personas and problem scenarios (aka 'jobs-to-be-done') focus development on driving toward a valuable outcome for your user vs. just generating output. In this module, you’ll learn to focus your work by developing personas, problem scenarios, and alternatives using best practices from design thinking.

Getting to Great Agile User Stories
-Now we’re going to transition from drafting personas and hypothesizing user needs to testing those assumptions and translating what you’ve learned into agile user stories. We’ll step through how you create an interview guide to ask your users the right questions and then we’ll dive into agile user stories. User stories are a standard feature of agile and serve as a day-to-day focal point for driving to value.

Focusing on Customer Value with User Stories
-The agile user story is your day-to-day focal point for making sure you’re building something valuable for your user. It’s how you discuss that within your team and how you anchor your subsequent testing. In this module, you’ll learn how to facilitate the creation and use of stories within your team.