Citizen development unlocks transformation

Ron Immink
2 min readDec 16, 2020

Transformation is the new black. It is very hard to do. There’s a lot of things written about transformation. Most of the literature about transformation is a bit simplistic. If you do this, they do this, this, this, and this and you’re sorted. That’s just not ever going to be the case. Organisations are complex systems, where a one size fits all is never going to work.


It is also very slow. Transformation is not something that you can do overnight. It’s something that takes three, four years to do it properly. Because there are always cultural and behavioural elements attached to transformation.


The speed of transformation is becoming an issue. It is too slow. You do not have three years. Jack Welch, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric, said: “When the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”

Blank slate

The good news is that COVID has given the CEOs and the management team a blank slate. You finally have the permission to fundamentally do things differently. You can re-assess everything and change whatever you want. You finally have the legitimacy to change. Your organisational structure, the purpose, the values and guiding principles, your stance on sustainability and diversity, the way you make decisions, the definition of success and the definition of your legacy.

It is not you

Remember, people were not clapping for management. People were clapping for front line staff. The nurses, the rubbish collectors, the people stacking shelves in the supermarket. This is your change and your opportunity to regain trust and contribute to make this world a better place.

Citizen development

And there are now the tools to do that at speed. It is called citizen development. Instant tech enablement of your staff. Abstraction allows people to play with coding, data, AI and soon other technologies as if it was LEGO. Instant automation, continues improvement and innovation.


Digital twinning, experimentation at scale, diffusion of decision making, engagement, up-skilling and enablement of your staff were always very time consuming and expensive. Citizen development for the first time makes all this possible. Combining the existing experience, expertise and knowledge base with learning by doing at every level in the company. Start with a pilot and let it spread. It is the vaccine that your company needs.


All the things that are really difficult with transformation become a lot easier and a lot quicker with citizen development. Combine that with storytelling. Be very clear on the direction you want to go. Hardwire the guiding principle, accountability, structure, technology, governance and IT.

And then let go.



Ron Immink

Father of two, strategy and innovation specialist, entreprenerd, author, speaker, business book geek, perception pionieer. See