The Agile Development Specialization

agile capstone

What is it?

It’s a four course self-paced online training in running innovation teams (link if you want to go there: agile specialization).

Why would I want it?

Agile’s doing more for corporations now. It’s basically become the ‘how’ of innovation. This specialization focuses not just on the management of projects, but also on the management of valuable outcomes for the user and the corporation- which is the essence of innovation.

What will I be able to do after I finish?

Beyond just understanding agile fundamentals, you’ll have practiced:

  1. Conducting user discovery to make sure you’re building something someone wants
  2. Diagnosing what software to develop and why using a set of agile user stories and prototypes
  3. Planing, selling, and running design sprints that deliver valuable, actionable insights
  4. Supporting your team’s transition from traditional approaches to a modern take on agile
  5. Integrating a test-driven approach to everything you do and facilitating a culture of experimentation

Much but not all of this relates to the Venture Design process for integrating agile with innovation practices.

How does it work?

Basically, you enroll in a self-paced course where you watch videos, read references, take quizzes, and (for the big stuff) complete peer-reviewed assignments.

What are the four courses?

Agile Meets Design Thinking

Agile Meets Design Thinking

You’ll learn how to pair the most actionable parts of design thinking with agile. You’ll learn how to quickly establish an understanding of your user and what matters to them and then package that understanding into agile user stories.

Hypothesis-Driven Development

You’ll learn how to integrate purposeful, evidence-driven testing into your practice of agile across user engagement, product usability, and the functionality of the software itself.

agile analytics

Agile Analytics

You’ll learn how to make analytics and evidence-based decisions a habitual part of your agile cadences.

Managing with Agile

You’ll not only learn the fundamentals of today’s most popular agile methodologies, but you’ll also learn the fundamentals of what jobs software teams need to do, and how they can do them better.

How much does it cost?

You can audit for free- but only in the individual courses you see below. If you want to do the quizzes, peer-reviewed assignments, and get a certificate you can post to LinkedIn, etc., you need to enroll. The price for enrollment changes periodically, but right now they offer it with a monthly subscription that you pay while you’re active in the courses.

How do I get started?

You can enroll in the first link for the whole specialization, or the individual courses (enumerated) that follow:

What exactly is agile?

It’s interesting- most people probably think it’s the rules and methods from scrum, the leading methodology. Actually, the only thing the experts would all probably agree ‘is agile’ is this simple manifesto: As you can see, it’s more about a set of outcomes you’re trying to get than a specific way of doing things. A high functioning agile practitioner is constantly picking and choosing methods/practices and creating a culture of experimentation w/ their team where every sprint they have a retrospective and add/modify/change the way they’re doing things based on what they learned.

What is the particular focus of this course?

I would say two main things distinguish it:

Focus on Value for the Customer

There’s a kind of pathology about software and I don’t think it’s anywhere more prevalent than Silicon Valley: everyone’s focused on building more software faster. By all measures that’s going great: to get an app out the door continues to get geometrically cheaper. The issue is that the success rate of SW is about the same: super low. Reasonable people will question the applicability of these figures to a given situation but it may be that as few as 25% of new features are regularly used (on a successful product), 2/3 of IT projects fail, and 90% of new products fail.

This is really my main focus with the Venture Design process and the use of design sprints: that there is a way to substantially improve those results. It does take a lot of work, though not necessarily a lot of money since a lot of the activity is refactoring things a firm is already doing. How to do that is a lot of what the Coursera course is about.

b) Focus on the Fundamental Jobs of SW Development

Most agile education is about learning one or more of the methodologies. Instead, I focus on how to understanding the fundamental jobs of software development (learning what works, deciding what to build, sequencing what you’re doing to build, etc.) and how to evaluate their success. Then we look at methods/practices from agile that might be applicable and how to decide to test them them and evaluate their success.