Project Management

Citizen Development Canvas: Paving the way to Hyper-Agility

From the Citizen Development Insights Blog
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Citizen development is a disruptive approach to digital transformation and organizational innovation, where teams are empowered to turn ideas into applications using no-code/low-code technology. This blog provides insights, advice and practical knowledge from thought leaders and practitioners in Citizen Development.

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By Mario Trentim

Hyper-agility seeks to drive an agile culture further, beyond the walls of any one product team or project, embedding it into the organizational DNA. To do that, it is necessary to combine new ways of work and to redefine how we think about application development since all value streams depend heavily on software in every industry.

In this article, I will describe the PMI Citizen Development Canvas, a definitive map for organizations looking to adopt and scale citizen development. The PMI CD Canvas was developed to:

  1. Bring clarity and guidance to the methods by which citizen development occur.
  2. Define the structures and competencies required to make it happen effectively.
  3. Establish the approach needed to introduce, scale, and manage citizen development within an enterprise.

Clarity and Guidance

Digital transformation and citizen development have been around for a decade or so now. Despite of technology advancements, the full potential of citizen development has yet to be realized. The challenge is that the organizations are not structured in ways needed to adopt and scale citizen development.

To embrace low-code and no-code is a fundamental shift to a mindset focused on empowering users. However, to empower users we need a new software development life cycle that is flexible and based on agile principles. We also need a framework to help citizen developers safely and securely build better applications.

Figure 1 – PMI Citizen Development Canvas (

The PMI CD Canvas has five key areas: Project Delivery, Capability Development, Operating Model, Organizational Alignment, and Maturity Model.

Ideation 2.0 provides orientation to start new initiatives by exploring ideas and generating mockups and enabling rapid application development. The citizen developer will be guided to channel value from real-time feedback and engagement with stakeholders.

As a quick and simple example, imagine you wanted to build a website a decade (or more) ago. You would sit with a project manager or business analyst to define requirements and scope that would be translated into a schedule to ultimately deliver your website some time later to be tested. By the end of the project, making changes would be a huge effort.

Now, imagine doing the same now. You would sit with a product owner to develop and prioritize features and stories. An agile team works on the prioritized features and stories in sprints, and you would have a chance to review the results on regular intervals, which is way better than the waterfall approach. What if you could get results even faster? That´s Ideation 2.0, and hyper-agility.

Structures and Competencies

“I understand citizen development works, how can I scale it?” is a question I hear more and more frequently. People are adopting Design Thinking, hackathons, and all types of inception and prototyping experiences. It works fine. But it is confined to a few areas in the organization. Why? Because there is no governance, and the capabilities are not in place.

To succeed in adopting and scaling citizen development, your organization needs to:

  1. Redefine rules of engagement with IT departments and TI personnel.

(Check out my previous articles about “The Doing and the Management of Doing”, “Shadow IT is not the Solution to Agility”, and “Digital Transformation Offices”)

  1. Reskill and upskill your workforce to equip them with the new competencies for the future of work, including digital literacy and citizen development proficiency.

(Check out my previous articles about “Citizen Development Skills for Life”, “Five Tips to QuickStart your Citizen Development Career” and “Why Go for a Citizen Developer Certification”)

  1. Develop new capabilities, as described in the PMI CD Canvas: Business Analysis & Design, Enterprise Risk Requirements, Application Development.

I will explain these foundational elements below.

A New Approach to Enable Hyper-Agility

It is possible that a citizen development application may cause more harm than good, causing extra work or confusion instead of solving a problem. That´s why citizen development practitioners need tools to design and develop their applications within the context of the business and the entire organization.

Business Analysis & Design, a core element to the PMI CD Canvas, provides a process architecture model focused on the wider implications of change across a suite of processes and applications to evaluate value creation.

The PMI CD Canvas takes into consideration functional and nonfunctional requirements, including underlying technologies, architectural landscape, and potential future usage. These, and other aspects, are carefully taken care of during the Hyper-Agile SDLC (software development life cycle), according to application development guidelines around designing and building data models, user-friendly interfaces, governance, and security.

In future articles, I will explore the Citizen Development Operating Model, Organizational Alignment, and Maturity Model. As you know, few organizations have taken citizen development to its maximum potential. So, I would like to conclude this piece with two questions:

  1. How successful is your organization in embracing Citizen Development?
  2. What could you do to help your organization and to advance in your profession?


Please leave your thoughts and share your experiences related to hyper-agility and citizen development.

Posted by Mario Trentim on: May 20, 2021 12:00 PM | Permalink

Comments (3)

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Luis Branco CEO| Business Insight, Consultores de Gestão, Ldª Carcavelos, Lisboa, Portugal
Dear Mario
Very interesting the theme that brought to our reflection and debate
Thanks for sharing and for your opinions
I will be watching your next articles on "Citizen Development Operating Model", "Organizational Alignment", and "Maturity Model".

Kwiyuh Michael Wepngong Financial Management Specialist | US Peace Corps / Cameroon Yaounde, Centre, Cameroon
Thanks Mario for sharing this useful article

Binay Samanta Director| Project & Environment Consultants Dhanbad, India
Citizens are in most cases stakeholders and need due considerations.

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