Top 5 Citizen Developer skills

Pierre-Edouard G.
9 min readFeb 17, 2022


Citizen Developers are the new business technologists and usually have a rare skill set in the current professional world. In addition, to have a good understanding of business processes, they usually quickly identify inefficient business processes, and bottlenecks and find creative solutions to overcome their challenges.

If you consider becoming a Citizen Developer, or already are one but willing to upskill, here are the top 5 skills that you should develop:

1 — Analytical Thinking

Analytical thinking is the capacity to solve complex problems by assessing the information obtained. Analytical minds can see patterns in datasets, which frequently leads to creative solutions. They have the ability to transform noisy data and information into action. As critical thinkers, they assist teams in making educated decisions based on acquired facts and specified goals. Analytical thinkers can also assist their teams in embracing new ideas and developing a development mentality.

A citizen developer must be able to identify and define problems, extract key information from data and develop workable solutions for the problems identified in order to test and verify the cause of the problem and develop solutions to resolve the problems identified. They also help their team embrace new ideas and develop a growth mindset.

How to develop this skill?

  • Read more

An important part of being analytical involves being alert and remaining stimulated. Reading on a more frequent basis will help keep your mind running, force your brain to think in new ways, and encourage you to view ideas differently. You can read personal development books related to innovation, creative thinking, problem-solving skills that can support analytical thinking a lot. Good fiction is also good as it encourages you to view ideas differently as they relate to the various characters.

  • Build your mathematical skills

To reach an answer in mathematics, you must solve an equation step by step. Sharpening your mathematical skills is an excellent approach to developing your analytical skills because all forms of mathematics are highly rational. Practice several types of arithmetic puzzles to improve your logic and problem-solving skills. Solving these equations is frequently a case of trial and error. Enroll in a college-level or online math course. There are a lot of applications for that purpose with increasing difficulty to help grow your mathematical skills gradually.

  • Play brain games

Brain games challenge you to think deeply and logically. Because they are seen as entertainment, brain games are often a preferred method used to sharpen your analytical skills. Playing Sudoku, solving crossword puzzles, or playing board games are great examples. Again, there are a lot of mobile applications for that purpose!

  • Learn something new

As simple as it may appear, broadening your knowledge can help you improve your analytical abilities. When it comes to problem-solving and assessing challenges, the more you understand, the more options and information you’ll have. Many people become passive learners after finishing their required education. Learn something new every day to improve your cognitive talents. Learn about something that interests you or that you are passionate about to keep yourself motivated. Choose an online course on a subject you don’t know much about. This will allow you to broaden your understanding in areas where you previously had little information.

Also, don’t just find the solution but know how exactly certain things work. Examining how things function can give you a greater grasp of the process, which will help you develop your analytical skills.

  • Be more observant

Being observant and paying attention to detail are excellent ways to strengthen your analytical skills since they allow you to analyze how things work and interact. Developing your analytical skills will need you to use your senses and actively engage with the world around you. Take a walk and observe the birds see how they interact. Consider the outside world’s relationships and patterns. It will assist you to bring this set of talents into the workplace if you are more alert to the minor nuances in life.

  • Think About Your Decisions

Making critical decisions at work is a typical occurrence. As a result, consider your options carefully and rationally. What are the advantages and disadvantages of your decision? If an expert opinion is available, seek it out, or conduct extensive research. Is this the most effective answer to this problem? Take a step back and think about it some more before making your decision. Practicing this will develop your analytical skills a lot.

  • Ask Questions

Did you know that we become smarter as a result of our curiosity? “The more curious we are about a subject, the more it engages our cognitive functions, such as attention and memory.” says neuroscientist Aracelli Carmago. As a result, asking more questions can benefit in the development of problem-solving abilities, as well as retention and recall of a subject. So, if you have a genuine question, don’t be afraid to ask it.

(Sources: Indeed and Talentbridge)

2 — Creative thinking

Creative thinking, which draws on your imagination and allows you to come up with original ideas or concepts, is one of the most important aspects of your creative abilities.

Creativity and creative thinking necessitate a willingness to try new things and an open mind. Trying new ideas, taking risks, and venturing into uncharted territory all help to improve your creative abilities.

Creative thinking also means that if you’re developing an app with IT oversight, you’re more likely to see their feedback as a learning opportunity than as criticism.

To help practice your creative thinking skill, here are five great tips from Dr. Rafis Abazov.

  • Create your own “Three Ifs”

Many good innovators take an existing object and ask clever questions to twist the very concept of it and make it new. Steve Jobs didn’t start with the idea of a smartphone. He just took an existing cell phone and asked a very simple question: how can we improve it to make it better — or the best?

Dr. Rafis Abazov suggests his students build creative thinking around three “ifs”:

1 — What would happen if I change it (the object/ system/ social relationship, etc)?

2 — What would I change or improve about this object if I wanted to use it in 10 years?

3 — What would I do if I had a one-million-dollar investment to improve it?

These questions can become powerful tools that can help you to think differently. It is important to exercise these skills by repeatedly using the “three ifs” formula (or designing your own set of questions) about all sorts of things. And many new ideas will pop up.

  • Practice dreaming

“The greatest paradox is that creative thinking is not necessarily the product of IQ or enlightenment via the proverbial apple falling on your head. It is a matter of regularly training your imagination, practicing your powers of observation and dreaming, big or small. It sounds so simple, and yet in this era of information overload and highly charged urban life, this important element is often missing from our everyday lives.

All too often we stay focused on the main task at hand, devoting our mental powers to routine actions (including Twitter and SMS — well, I am sometimes guilty of this too), so that at the end of the day the most creative idea we can come up with is just to finally take a break in front of the TV or computer screen. Sound familiar?

Whatever you’re doing — whether it’s work or leisure — practice spending time applying the “three ifs” formula to anything you see or imagine. This will help you get into the habit of making space in your mind for dreaming — essential for creative thinking and innovation.”

  • Make time for cohesive creative thinking

Every textbook on creativity affirms the importance of setting aside clearly defined time for creative thinking and innovation. For example, Google asks its teams to allocate at least 20% of their time to creative thinking or new projects. But often, even if we show up ready to innovate, still something doesn’t work and fresh ideas fail to pop up like popcorn. There are two reasons for this stalemate. The first is that we don’t practice dreaming, and the second is we don’t practice focusing on cohesive ideas.

Therefore, the next rule of creative thinking is very simple: allocate time — it might be an hour per day or per week — in which to exercise creative thinking about something specific.

  • Learn to pitch your ideas

There is no doubt that Steve Jobs of Apple was excellent at exploring and explaining innovations based on existing products. He didn’t invent those products, but he improved them, and he was excellent at explaining why his version was superior to others.

“If you can’t express your idea in three sentences, you don’t have an idea!” says an old adage. One of the most important innovation skills is the ability to present a very brief and clear description of a new idea (two to three sentences — similar to shouting through the closing door of an elevator) and to make a brief presentation (two to three minutes — known as an “elevator pitch”).

Like any other skill, the ability to articulate in this way can only come through much practice.

  • Bounce ideas off others

Even a great innovator requires the company of others to discuss — or “bounce” — new creative ideas and innovations. What do the major innovative ideas of our time, from Microsoft (when it was young) to Google, have in common? They were all created by teams of people who worked together to come up with the idea, plan their innovative projects, present them to investors and the general public, and, most importantly, brainstorm those innovations within the team.

As a result, the ability to be a valuable team player capable of bouncing ideas to the next level is a final important asset to add to your innovation skillset. For some young people, this comes naturally, whereas, for others, it is more difficult.

But it is never too late to train yourself in this mode of interacting.

I also highly recommend Dr. Rafis Abazov’s post on the IDEAL methodology for Problem-Solving.

3 — Active learning

Digital transformation is everywhere from products and services to new technologies, new business models, and new ways of work. Consequently, Citizen development is a lifelong learning journey. As you get more experienced and proficient in using different low-code and no-code (LCNC) platforms like for Process automation vs. Business app builders, you may choose to specialize (in process automation for example, and master different platforms and technologies to support it) or to grow skills based on a stack of specific platforms (for example Platform A for automation, Platform B for apps, Platform C for Data structure…).

One career path might be to become a citizen development architect, responsible for large citizen development initiatives, with broad knowledge and experience to architect complex solutions. Another career path might be to become a citizen development strategist, someone who is thinking of digital strategies and digital transformation to your business and your organization as a whole.

Being motivated to upskill is crucial in the ever-changing digital transformation scenery. The concept of a citizen developer is relatively new, so the only way to become one is through self-education. MOOC and e-Learning platforms allow students to master the no-code skills essential to building a career in digital transformation.

4 — Collaboration

One of the skills required of citizen developers is the ability to ensure seamless collaboration between the business and IT teams when developing new functionalities capable of meeting the specific needs of a company.

The concept of collaboration is simple enough, but working with others may be difficult. Each member of a team has their own set of skills and limitations, communication preferences, and personal objectives. Collaboration is also influenced by company culture. Some businesses encourage cooperation and provide training on how to collaborate, while others expect it will happen organically.

Using collaboration skills within a team may include:

  • Placing group goals above personal satisfaction and/or recognition, especially if you’re the leader
  • Reaching a consensus about goals and methods for completing projects or tasks especially in the context of LCNC
  • Offering recognition of the contributions of other team members, giving credit where it is due, and providing kudos or feedback as much as you can
  • Identifying constraints and risks and addressing problems cooperatively as they occur
  • Apologizing for missteps and forgiving others for mistakes; holding a grudge or sabotaging the efforts of other team members destroys collaboration
  • Keeping communication open and never withholding information necessary to carry out tasks

(Source: The Balance Careers)

5 — Technology use and Computer Science Basics

Deep knowledge of an organization’s business processes is only half of the problem. To be able to create efficient business apps and/or automate workflows, a citizen developer must possess an understanding of computer science basics, including how a database works, how to structure data to work with an App, the concept of relationships, the basics of UI design. Understanding of how HTML and CSS works together and Javascript is a huge plus.

There are plenty of good resources to understand the basics of computer science and I recommend to take some, this will accelerate a lot your capacity to build efficient processes and applications.

There are a lot of excellent courses for beginners on LinkedIn (requires LinkedIn Premium), on Youtube, or on e-learning platforms.

Note that those 5 skills are completely aligned with the top 10 skills required for the Future of Work, according to the World Economic Forum (More about it in my post here)




Pierre-Edouard G.

Citizen Developer Strategist, entrepreneur with 15 years of experience in marketing, project delivery, and application architecture.