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 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. Syllabus 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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