A Citizen Developer Story: The Path To CD-P & CDBA Credentials

A personal story that explores the insightful odyssey of a dual-certified professional in citizen development, unveiling the transformative power of CD-P and CDBA in reshaping the tech and business landscapes.

Have you ever found yourself at the crossroads of innovation and practicality, wondering how to blend the two into something truly transformative? Welcome to the world of citizen development—a realm where this fusion not only exists but thrives!

If you’re intrigued by the concept of citizen development (CD) yet still navigating this broad and emerging field, consider this post your compass.

Today, I invite you to embark on my voyage into the heart of citizen development. From accidental discoveries to strategic mastery, this journey is less about the destination and more about the rich tapestry of experiences along the way. Plus, I’ll touch on unraveling the essence of the Citizen Developer Practitioner (CD-P) and Citizen Developer Business Architect (CDBA) paths.

What is a Citizen Developer?

Citizen developers are the bridge builders in the tech world, merging creative solutions with business needs. This dynamic field is in constant flux, sculpted by the pioneers who dare to redefine its boundaries. For example, if you’ve noticed the delicate balance between authentic innovation and automation for its own sake, you’re already in tune with the essence of citizen development.

In other words, citizen developers operate where innovation and practicality intersect. Remember, there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for anything. Plus, many solutions already exist for almost ANYTHING/EVERYTHING we need to optimize and/or develop. Of course, all things project-dependent have outcomes and applicability that can shift over time, and each success factor can vary across industries. We’re also not reinventing any wheels here.

My Unique Insight into Citizen Development

What makes me more knowledgeable about citizen development compared to others, you ask? I’m certified in both PMI’s Citizen Developer Practitioner (CD-P) and Citizen Developer Business Architect (CDBA), but that’s not all!

Of course, the certifications helped me better understand the overall citizen developer notions of who, what, where, when, why, and how. Moreover, I’ve intentionally (and unexpectedly) navigated the intricate landscape hands-on. Nonetheless, these certifications and real-world practice have enriched my understanding and proficiency in CD.

The Genesis of My Journey

My path to becoming a citizen developer was not a direct one. It was a gradual process, a subplot in my broader narrative that brought meaning and direction to my professional life.

First, I never set out to be a “citizen developer.” Nor did I plan to go into citizen development. It’s a tiny part of a much larger journey that helped to clarify and call me closer to my life’s purpose.

To explain further, we need to rewind a bit. The year is 2015, and after about a decade (also, here’s a link to my About page and portfolio) in various roles within higher education, I felt a growing sense of stagnation between higher education and my side gigs as a freelancer.

I. Was. Stuck.

Navigating CD from Stagnation to Innovation:

Laying the Foundations

So, to rewind further, I started to freelance in 2008. I focused primarily on sales (program development — thanks to previous sales and fundraising roles) and event planning (product expos, weddings, and more — I grew up in a family business).

That, combined with my “day job” in higher ed. and a feeling of stagnation, made me realize the NEED for a significant “life assessment.”

I needed to bridge the gap between both domains.

So, I started Digging.

And like any good millennial, I hit the social media message boards running.

I asked questions, gave feedback, answered questions, and simply… networked… A LOT. As a starter, I knew I was good at quickly learning new platforms (my first degree was in CAD).

The Quest for Knowledge and Skills

My curiosity led me to the vibrant world of social media forums, where networking, learning, and sharing became my tools for growth. Courses in digital strategy, social media marketing tools, and the like soon followed, marking my foray into digital marketing.

Transition to Entrepreneurship

In 2016, I left academia and co-founded UGH! Media in 2017.

UGH! Media allowed me to combine my experience in higher education and freelance expertise to support small businesses with unique digital transformation challenges. This venture was my gateway into web development (and web strategy) and, eventually, into the world of low-code and no-code platforms.

Then I Earned a Second Degree

During the UGH! Media years, I learned SO much! I helped build a digital solutions business and combined my experience, allowing me to finish my Bachelor’s degree (in Applied Management). Between everything, they all directed me to learn about and (unknowingly) use low-code and no-code platforms!

It’s also when I built my portfolio, which I eventually combined with THIS website and blog! After graduating, I left UGH! Media and branched out on my own. After I got some clients, this all morphed into different services as a consulting firm!

My Citizen Developer Eureka Moment

It was at PMI’s Project Management Expo in 2023 that I had my eureka moment. Sitting in a session about the PMI Citizen Developer™ Business Architect (CDBA), I realized that my work resonated deeply with the principles of citizen development, a field I had been contributing to unknowingly.

A few minutes into the presentation, I realized I had been doing citizen development (CD) work for years! Now, I just had a name for it! The term was coined in 2009 by Gartner.

Fast forward a bit, and Thanks to smartphones, SaaS, and the cloud becoming more popular (and functional), our tools and tech evolved even more throughout the 2010s. Then, as we ALL know, the COVID-19 pandemic catapulted our digital existence to new heights. Then, in late 2020, it was announced that PMI launched the first of its citizen development products. It was the first platform-agnostic resource to help accelerate the adoption of CD (in any industry), turning it into more than just a persona. For example, these job posts typically show up as no-code/low-code developerstechnical architecture managerssenior project managersdigital solutions managers, or program director roles.

Citizen Developer Definition(s): Deciphering CD-P and CDBA Credentials

Here’s how each citizen development credential has helped me:

  • Citizen Developer Practitioner (CD-P): This certification was my first formal introduction to the world of citizen development. Overall, it equipped me with the skills to translate business needs into technical solutions using low-code/no-code platforms.
  • Citizen Developer Business Architect (CDBA): Advancing to the CDBA certification marked my transition from practitioner to strategist. With it, my focus shifted to aligning citizen development initiatives with overarching business strategies.

Reflecting on the Dual Perspectives

Despite their differences, CD-P and CDBA are complementary. The CD-P empowers you to create and implement, while the CDBA enables you to envision and strategize. Together, they foster a holistic approach to citizen development as it begins transitioning from a business persona into more defined roles.

Concluding Thoughts

That dual citizen developer certification helped me develop a panoramic perspective of citizen development. They emphasized the importance of its impact on digital transformation and balanced hands-on execution with strategic foresight while staying adaptable in an ever-evolving digital world. All of that combined is no easy feat! So, remember that citizen development is complex, takes time, and makes us face unique challenges head-on.

The Takeaway

My journey through CD-P and CDBA transcends a mere educational pursuit; it represents a path of growth, innovation, and boundless possibilities. Whether you’re just embarking on this journey or are already navigating its twists and turns, embracing the multifaceted nature of citizen development is crucial for unlocking its vast potential.

What’s Next

As this chapter of our journey concludes, I hope it has illuminated the dynamic realm of citizen development and the transformative roles of a Citizen Developer Practitioner (CD-P) and a Citizen Developer Business Architect (CDBA). Remember, though, our exploration doesn’t stop here. Citizen development continuously evolves and, with it, brings opportunities to discover, innovate, and excel.

Now, I’d Love to Hear from You:

  • Are you navigating your journey in citizen development? I invite you to share your experiences, achievements, or the obstacles you’ve faced along the way.
  • Considering a foray into the world of CD-P or CDBA? Let’s engage in a dialogue about how these roles can revolutionize your career path or business model.
  • Do you have questions or seek deeper insights into any aspect of citizen development? Don’t hesitate to reach out!

Share Your Thoughts!

Your insights, inquiries, and narratives are invaluable. Please share them in the comments below. Together, let’s foster a vibrant community of innovators, collectively pushing the boundaries of what’s achievable in the intersection of technology and business.

If this post resonated with you, please consider sharing it within your network or with anyone poised to benefit from this exploration into citizen development. Your support is instrumental in expanding our community of visionary professionals.

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