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Citizen Development Insights

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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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Cameron McGaughy
Ron Immink
Jody Temple White
Mario Trentim
Jelili Odunayo Kazeem
Jason Mayall
Chandrasekaran Audivaragan
Ryan Whitmore
Kimberly Whitby
Justin Sears
Derya Sousa
Vivek Goel
Raveesh Dewan
Dalibor Ninkovic
Ian Gosling
Tara Leparulo

Past Contributors:

Elizabeth Jordan
Arjun Jamnadass
Rogerio Sandim
Martin Kalliomaki
Richard Earley
Maelisa Woulfe
Octavio Arranz

Recent Posts

5 Top Citizen Development Myths Busted

Empowering Citizen Developers: Overcoming 5 Common Challenges Together

Citizen Development: The Path to Success Starts Small

Can No-Code/Low-Code ERP Replace Traditional ERP Platforms?

No Code, Big Bucks: How Citizen Developers Can Capitalize on the Future of Tech 

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Digital Transformation Office and Citizen Development

By Mario Trentim

Businesses and society as a whole are facing change and disruption at higher rates than ever before. To manage complex organizational transformations, we need more than project management. It is necessary to strategize and innovate, coordinating larger and more complex transformation initiatives. This article will discuss the rise of the Transformation Offices, portfolios, and programs dedicated to promoting and sustaining change in organizations, and whether Citizen Development can help bring even further transformation.

 

Will Transformation Offices replace PMOs?

Before I answer the question, it is vital to emphasize that Project Management Offices (PMOs) are usually responsible for tactical and operational activities related to portfolio, program, and project management.

Although we have Enterprise PMOs (EPMOs), traditional portfolios and projects are extensively focused on continuous improvement. Research and Development PMOs (R&D PMOs) focused on innovation, but they are also not "transformational" in essence.

Finally, research and experience show that transformation and change management involves specific types of portfolios, programs, and projects that lower organizational hierarchy levels cannot handle. Because of that, a Transformation Office might be a combination of strategy, business analysis, innovation, and portfolio project management.

According to McKinsey & Company, the transformation office's role is to coordinate and provide oversight to strategic transformational initiatives, ensuring that all participants have a "single source of truth" and reinforcing the change-management goals.

 

A transformation's success depends on the regular drumbeat of the

Transformation Office, on clear communication,

and an action-oriented tone.

 

In summary, PMOs will not be replaced because we have an increasing number of projects at all organizational levels in different departments or areas. However, there is a high and increasing demand for project management professionals skilled in change management, transformation, and technology.

New trends support the case for a Transformation Office not only because people are the real key to digital transformation but mainly because there is no escape from the future of work and new business models. Finally, despite organizations knowing they have to reinvent and disrupt themselves, 70 percent of corporate transformation efforts fall short of their goals.

My point is that this staggering high failure rate has three major causes:

  1. Confusion between transformational and non-transformation initiatives;
  2. Insufficient or inappropriate change management activities; and,
  3. Lack of competency and skills.

 

What does a Successful Transformation Office look like?

Since the typical workforce lacks the critical mass of technology skills, “even when technologies are in place, too many of companies’ processes remain stuck in the pre-transformation world, to say nothing of the disconnect that remains between IT and systems groups and the rest of the business.” (McKinsey & Company)

Effective Transformation Offices are a combination of a Citizen Development Center of Excellence and a Project Management Office that can help organizations combine technical know-how with soft capabilities.

Project managers, business analysis, and citizen developers are change-makers by nature. When working together in a coordinated fashion, PMs, BAs, and CDs are capable of building relationships and common understanding among business functions and technology, paving the way for a successful transformation.

The PMI Citizen Development canvas (Figure 1) summarizes a framework to guide successful organizational transformations. Starting at the Project Delivery section, hyper-agility provides guidance to lean approaches and prototyping based on innovative techniques of the Ideation 2.0 while all ideas and proposals shall be evaluated according to the Suitability Assessment. A Transformation Office is also responsible for Capability Development which includes Business Analysis and Design, Enterprise Risk Requirements, and Application Development.

Figure 1 – PMI Citizen Development canvas (PMI.org)

 

In order to set up and operate a successful Transformation Office, we need people proficient in business analysis and strategizing, project management and agile approaches, citizen development and technology acumen. Considering the diversity of disciplines involved, the Citizen Development framework is the glue that holds a coherent and unified approach to organizational transformation.

Is it time for a Citizen Development Office?

Well, it looks like the 70 percent failure rate shows that transformations are not being properly managed by traditional PMOs. Instead of creating different names (Strategy / Vision Realization Offices, Transformation Management Offices, Agile Project Management Offices, and more), I advocate that it is time to add a new framework to our existing change-makers toolboxes: PMI Citizen Development, a handbook for creators and change makers.

 

“Besides being respected and credible, the leader of the transformation office should be technically proficient, understand the affected business domains, and have a strong relationship with technical teams.” (McKinsey & Company)

 

In my next articles, I will provide you with step-by-step examples using the tools and techniques described in the Citizen Development canvas (Figure 1). And I will tell you how organizations are embracing citizen development by describing successful (and unsuccessful) case studies.

What are your thoughts on this? If you want to listen to this article and previous articles, check out my podcast here. Please leave your comments and join the conversation below. 

Posted by Mario Trentim on: April 08, 2021 12:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

21st Century Skills and Digital Skills: Citizen Development Skills for Life

By Mario Trentim

As the world changes, new and transformed professions arise. We are now at a point when it is very challenging for the people and organizations to make sense of the current situation because the pandemic turned our world upside-down. Meanwhile, we need awareness that “what brought us here won´t get us there”, to paraphrase Marshall Goldsmith.

 

We must acquire new competencies

and skills urgently.

 

I am a project manager and a PMI volunteer since 2008, which means I was fortunate to take part in the evolution of project management morphing into a life skill. We are now on the verge of a significant change: Citizen Development and Digital Skills.

In this article, I will discuss how digital skills are connected to the 21st-century skills established by UNESCO in the early 2010s. And I will suggest a roadmap for PMI volunteers, professionals, educators, and parents, to prepare our next generations to the future of work.

 

21st Century Skills

Since the emergence of technology changes and globalization, it has been argued that formal education must embrace new forms of learning to build competencies needed to tackle more complex challenges.

Pedagogy changed to foster participation and emphasize project and problem-based learning (LUNA SCOTT, 2015), but it still relied more on synchronous in-person classes. Although e-learning was a possibility for a long time, educators and schools struggled to create a remote-first education.

Research about digital skills, technology literacy, computer programming, and related topics started to surface more robust evidence that we are failing to prepare our kids for the future of work. Laar et al. (2017) provide a systematic literature review to emphasize the importance of digital skills.

Considering digital transformation started back in 2008 with cloud services, educational models and systems are outdated. The job market already noticed that formal education is not sufficient. And that´s the reason why short duration courses, micro-learning, and self-paced study are growing at a fast rate in recent years.

The pandemic in 2020 and 2021 impacted schools and universities severely. Classes were interrupted, educators were disrupted, and students are confused and bored. Was it possible to anticipate change and reinvent education before the COVID crisis?

 

Roadmap to Prepare Future Generations

The answer to the previous questions is Yes and No. Yes, because we were able to see that educational systems and curricula were outdated. No, because there is always strong resistance and attachment to the status quo.

The best time for change was in the past. The second best time is now. And here is the roadmap to prepare future generations, digital native toddlers and young adults, equipping them with new skills and competencies needed:

 

  1. Adopt a Remote-First Mindset

I had the opportunity to help schools and educational nonprofits during the pandemic. One of the biggest mistakes I notice in schools that combine in-person and remote learning is that they focus on in-person because it is easy. As a result, the kids studying from home feel bored and excluded. If schools want to change education, they need much more than a webcam recording room with the professor and some students.

It is necessary to rethink and remodel the curricula, adapting classes to shorter durations, defining asynchronous and synchronous learning, and more. The secret to being successful is to adopt a remote-first mindset: if the remote students are learning and engaged, all the students are learning and engaged.

Focusing on teaching and leading at a distance is a game-changer, but we must have a different breed of educators.

 

  1. Embrace Citizen Development Educators

I´ve mentioned that some professions are at risk, and all the occupations must be reinvented as new technologies digitally transform them. Since coding skills and computer literacy are in high demand for the future of work, educators must cultivate digital skills. Not only learn how to stream classes and use learning management systems but also become citizen developers themselves. I will discuss this further in another article.

Microsoft Power Platform: School Teacher uses Power Apps to Transform Classroom Management and Motivate Students

Mendix: Building the Digital University

 

  1. Combine Edutainment and Technology

I´ve been experimenting with education for two decades now as a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert. One of the most powerful ways to learn something is by doing and explaining what you are doing. That being said, I structure my lectures in three different types: foundations, practitioner, and advanced.

The foundation classes are comprised of self-paced learning, reading, and asynchronous learning. The student gets a common understanding by accessing introductory materials that prepare them for the live class (synchronous).

The practitioner classes are hands-on, using a collaboration space, we devise experiments, simulations. These classes promote critical thinking and collaboration.

Finally, the advanced classes focus on case studies, benchmarking, and sometimes significant challenges or unsolvable problems. These classes are designed to promote innovation and creativity.

You probably think that all I said does not apply to you. But I tested it with low-income and high-income students, toddlers, undergrad, and even MBA students. It works and there are communities of educators discussing how to reinvent education combined with technology.

Currently, you can teach geography, chemistry, history, and more, using Minecraft for Education. And you can develop a variety of other skills with Scratch programing.​

Minecraft for Education

Scratch Programming

 

How You Can Help With CD Education

First, check out references like  Serious Games and Edutainment Applications (Jain, 2011).

Then join a community of educators like MIEE Programs or others, depending on your technology choices. Third, and most importantly, get acquainted with the PMI Citizen Development Framework and join a community of practice.

I hope that soon we have groups of volunteers building the Citizen Development Skills for Life, similar to what we did in the past with PM Skills for Life. Let me know your thoughts below.

Posted by Mario Trentim on: April 01, 2021 12:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Reinventing Project Management with Citizen Development: Will Project Managers Lose Their Job?

By Mario Trentim

So, you are a project manager, and you´ve been hearing a lot about citizen development. You are probably asking yourself, “What´s in it for me?” Maybe you think that this is IT-only and focused on professional developers. Be cautious though, some people had similar thoughts about Agile twenty years ago.

Well, let´s face it: the project management profession is changing. And if you want to boost your employability and maintain yourself as a relevant contributor to your company, keep reading this article before it is too late!

 

80% of Project Management Tasks Will be Eliminated

Back in 2019, Gartner said, “Eighty Percent of Today´s Project Management Tasks will be Eliminated by 2030 as Artificial Intelligence Takes Over”. I remember an extensive discussion at that time, and most project managers were incredulous. They argued that project management is a human activity that a machine cannot perform.

Other human activities are also being disrupted and automated. Take human resources and people management in the era of big data and machine learning, for example. The rise of “digital leadership,” highly effective virtual teams, and online collaboration are undeniable truths.

 

If 80% of PM tasks will be eliminated,

will project managers lose their jobs?

 

The answer is yes and no. You will lose your “old job,” but you can reinvent your profession and disrupt yourself, opening a new landscape of opportunities: citizen development and the future of project management.

Before I give you the long answer, it is essential to emphasize that humanity is transforming fast. Peter Diamandis, the author of the best-seller book “Abundance,” says that we live in a time of more opportunity and abundance than ever before. According to Diamandis:

  • Food had a 13x reduction in cost
  • Energy had a 30x reduction in cost
  • Communications 100,000x reduction in cost
  • Knowledge 1,000,000x reduction in cost

 

Abundance means more projects. Consequently, project managers are in high demand. The Project Economy, according to PMI.org, is one in which people have the skills and capabilities they need to turn ideas into reality. “The future of work is fluid, dynamics and goal-oriented; project leaders will be in high demand.” (Cindy Anderson)

 

We, project managers, will not lose our jobs. Project managers are in high demand and will be in even higher demand because we need people capable of navigating complexities, managing uncertainties, and delivering value to stakeholders through successful completion of projects, delivery of products and services.

 

What Shall I do, as a Project Manager, to Stay Relevant?

Project Management Offices, project managers, and other stakeholders are increasingly reliant on technology to execute their work. Citizen development is critical to democratize digital transformation, impacting business models and the way we work.

Project managers, business analysts, and project team members are change-makers. To stay relevant, increasing our employability, we need to acquire new skills and competencies, revisiting our experience, and connecting the dots to find better ways to deliver value.

 

You don´t have to look for another profession.

You have to reinvent your job by adopting a citizen

development mindset, embedding technology into your

project management processes and activities.

 

A Final Word and Actionable Steps

Back in 2001, Clayton Christensen wrote the book “The Innovator´s Dilemma: When Great Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail”. Technologies are now disrupting professions and career because they change the way we work.

Citizen development is a wake-up call to all professions. Project managers, change-makers, shall lead breakthroughs not only with innovative products and services but mainly with methodologies and frameworks.

The first step is to adopt a growth mindset (Dweck, 2015). The second step is to become aware of the transformations impacting your profession and organizations. Stay tunned on the Citizen Developers community at ProjectManagement.com and revisit The Project Economy website at PMI.org. Finaly, the third step is to start your citizen developer journey.

 

Join the conversation below and let me know your thoughts. Next week, I will provide real-life examples about the “PMO of the Future” and how project managers are applying citizen development to improve project management processes and results.

Posted by Mario Trentim on: March 11, 2021 01:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Why Citizen Developers?

Citizen development is a life skill and mindset. It means a cultural change to embrace technology as an extension of human capabilities. Unfortunately, there is resistance and fear because people see citizen development through the lens of scarcity.

 

Instead of asking, "how can I leverage citizen development to create even more personal and organizational competitive advantage?" people think, "what will I do when my job disappears?".

 

The Digital Transformation Fallacy

Digital transformation is a buzzword since the 2010s. Around 2008, the "cloud" became popular, although, in 2020, most organizations and people still do not use the full potential of cloud-native applications. Why?

The Technology Fallacy book, published in 2020, is based on insights from a multi-year collaborative study between MIT Sloan Management Review and Delloite. The research says that digital maturity is about people and organizational change.

Technology is here for a while: machine learning, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and more. It is not used on a large scale because the majority of people do not understand it. The agile and digital-savvy mindset needed to allow organizations to embrace technology and pivot as required is scarce.

Organizational transformation enables the organization to become more customer-centric, data-driven, and adaptable.

 

Citizen Development is More than Low-Code

Citizen development maturity is your company's process of learning how to respond appropriately to the emerging competitive environment from a broader perspective that includes technology, but it is not limited to that.

Every professional must develop a working knowledge of digital and technology trends to lead their organizations to adapt in the right ways. In other words, citizen development becomes a life skill required at every level.

You don't have to learn how to code and build applications. You have to understand how new technologies make it possible to create different organizational structures, disruptive business models, and innovative work methods and processes.

 

What's Next

To conclude this article, I wanted to emphasize that technology is already available. You are connected to digital assistants on your mobile phone; artificial intelligence helps me write this article with Word Online, and there is much more. These and other technologies won't replace you. But they will make your current job obsolete. To stay relevant, you have to understand the new game of citizen development.

 

Join the conversation about Citizen Development! Please leave your comments below.

 

Posted by Mario Trentim on: December 11, 2020 08:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)
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