Cristina Baghiu: „My strongest desire is to be able, through this project, to also help the local community”

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Cristina Baghiu, FORTH innovation facilitator
Cristina Baghiu, FORTH innovation facilitator

Cristina Baghiu is in a process of permanent learning. He strongly believes that the only way we can develop is to always be different. It boasts the roles of wife and mother. He is involved in the development of the start-up ecosystem in Iasi, corporate and entrepreneur, entrepreneur at the beginning of the road, passionate about innovation and instigator of creative and different ideas in the organizations with which he works.

C&B:  Define your activity

“My most recent project, Iasi based innovation & creativity facilitation boutique – Atelierul de Idei, was born out of my passion for alternative education and out of my visceral need to do things differently, to think laterally. Atelierul de Idei facilitates development of innovative ideas, in teams, corporate organisations or start-ups, using an international method, scientifically proven to double the efficiency of the innovation process. I am talking about the FORTH innovation method, in which, in 2018, I obtained an international certification as innovation facilitator. I am proud to say that there are globally only around other 160 colleagues that passed this very rigorous training process. Through Atelierul de Idei I bring clarity to team process, either it is concerning the organisation systemic innovation, guide in process innovation or idea generation workshops.

 The techniques that I am using or I am about to integrate in my workshops are modern tools, all with scientific background, as Agile Management, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® , design thinking, liberating structures, etc. Learning is serious business, and lateral and creative thinking that I intend to stir in my training participants is actually a needed adaptability response to the VUCA environment we live in.

Despite the fact of using gamification tools, as LEGO bricks, these are not team building exercises, but instead are creative thinking facilitation tools, communication and problem solving methods, for teams, organisations and individuals that are facing complex challenges in complex environments. These are used from SCRUM retrospectives, to strategy meetings facilitating, performance review meetings or ideation sessions.”

C&B: What is the story of your career or business?

“I joined the workforce market in the 90s, on a career track classic for the moment. I had the opportunity to work in best in class multinational banking institutions, customer oriented and with innovative services or products, that nurtured my passion for things done well and different. After a very long period in the Romanian banking system, in high responsibility positions facing top customers or regional teams, I decided to change direction in order to have a cross-industry experience, so I managed to grow valued experiences in another very competitive domain, energy. All these teams and industries formed me as a person with a very open vision, able to understand organisational and sector diversity, which helped me in defining efficient approaches for my innovation facilitating project through Atelierul de Idei.

Another certification that will definitely add value is the Management 3.0 facilitator totally unique in Romania’s North East region. It is actually a collection of tangible instruments, techniques and practices, Agile derived, that can be used by any manager or team member in order to collaborate effectively. Management should be the responsibility of every team member, this is the future of organisations, and the same line of thought should be applied at several levels in our society. If everyone takes responsibility for their deeds or decisions and abandons the mere executant role, maybe a lot of things would be different – starting from classrooms to the macro level of our community or society.

My strongest desire is to be able, through this project, to also help the local community, we need so many diverse people, with cross-sector expertise, and courage as change agents. I have already started some collaborations in this purpose, I try to be present to as many as possible events of the local tech start up community in Iasi (they are great and effervescent in their ideas!) and to deliver in this environment workshops for young future entrepreneurs.”

C&B: What was your belief in childhood and what is now?

“At school I was the student always in the front row interacting with the teachers. I have always wanted to learn and to obtain a 360 degrees version of the world. And it seems this need didn’t cure until now. Knowledge, what you possess in your brain, is the only thing that really differentiates you and that nobody can take from you. The rest is volatile.”

C&B: Tell us a positive and a negative experience from your activity

“For me, working with customers for so long, a positive experience happens always when my opinion is asked, when I am looked upon as a consultant by people that I worked for in the past and had great results, even if now we are not in a contractual relationship anymore. This means to do god and quality work, no matter the sector, you get to keep people’s respect and credibility in your expertise, no matter the label under which you are working.

The negative experiences, errors that were made or difficult moments (I lives the 2008 financial crisis in a top responsibility position in the banking sector) should always be valued, seen as an opportunity; you should always ask yourself what else can you learn from that experience, not why is it happening to me. This way you might try to be as prepared for the future as possible, as the future could bring absolutely everything, and stay alert in order not to miss any opportunity.”

C&B: Give some advice for the starters, indecise or having questions about your activity / area

“I do not give advice, ever. Every advice derives from the personal understanding of an own experience, what is valid for me might not be valid for you. I do not believe in success recipes, which is proven by the fact that until now nobody still managed to discover how to change metal to gold, although the search for the Philosopher’s Stone or the Holy Graal never ceased. To people I interact with, I only try to give them feedback, and courage not to fear failure, and learn from it. Unfortunately, in Romania, we leave in a culture and mentality that penalties error, mistake or trial or what ever name you want to call it. Do you know that Eskimos have 50 words in their language for snow? This is because they live in an environment filled with it. If we want to live an innovation-filled environment, we should have 50 words in our vocabulary for innovation. Unfortunately we have too many words for fear of failure or fear of public scorn. To young people that want to start-up their idea I say to listen their inner voice, go forward, look for support in an entrepreneurial ecosystem (there are now fablabs, pre-accelerators, start up communities, etc) and trial until you make it. Nothing important is easily obtained.

To those that feel they need a guide in their innovation expedition, or they have witnessed same results using same methods, I say to have trust to use Atelierul de Idei.”

C&B: In your case, what is stronger – feeling or sense?

“I consider myself a very reason oriented person. Every choice I make is based on objective reasons. I have always had a career and professional plan.I could say that I am in process of implementing design thinking on myself. If I look back, I have applied every step of the process, respectively Empathize – Define – Ideate – Prototype – Test. I have decided what I want to do, I have followed people I admire, I have learned and changed plans, again and again, improved the prototype and always testing it. The only area where I am definitely sentimental is the personal life – here I do not want to change anything, I am extremely happy being in the same team for more than 20 years.”

C&B: Give your own definition for Romanian society, business and careers.

“Our society is much divided, things that look like common sense to some seem totally unacceptable to others. This difficult and highly unpredictable environment clearly affects Romanian business. I could say that who succeeds in Romania in business might succeed everywhere, if the success is real and not based on different non-competitive advantages, the best examples are IT unicorns, that started in Romania and scaled globally, this means sustainability in business. If you set yourself to always depend on your own forces, the same things stands also for Romanian careers – if you are always the original one, you are learning from everyone around you and most important from failure, you should never let any opportunity unexplored, then it is very difficult NOT to succeed.”

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