In September 2019, the CEICID team arrived back in Madrid, looking forward to launching a new stage with a project even more attuned to people’s current needs. With 50 years of experience and a solid background, the move to Madrid was intended to make CEICID geographically more accessible, to be in closer contact with experts from different sectors and to facilitate the ongoing development of management professionals and their social impact. In this process of rethinking and redesigning itself, CEICID had in the previous months been working with the consultancy Emêrgap. As a result of this work, CEICID saw the need to create an innovation and projects platform, PIPA (Platform for Innovation, Projects and Learning), which is currently working on 12 projects.
To get PIPA going, CEICID contracted Cristina Bofarull, born in Mexico City in 1985. She can tell us about the keynotes, progress and relevant issues of the first ten months of this new start.
Cristina Bofarull joined CEICID last year and she is the one who, along with the rest of the Pipa Team, has launched this platform
Why is innovation needed in the work of the administration?
Innovation cannot be waived by anyone who wishes to continue to exist. But innovation doesn’t mean changing everything. True innovation preserves what is essential and tackles what needs changing. Hence, innovation in the work of the administration primarily affects the way of working, and that is what we at PIPA are aiming to do.
So how would you define PIPA?
PIPA is an acronym for Plataforma de Innovación, Proyectos y Aprendizaje – a Platform for Innovation, Projects and Learning. It is an intergenerational learning ecosystem made up of professionals working in the administration and other external professionals. The most important thing about PIPA is not so much the result of the projects but the learning and development of the people who work in them. A project arises from the need to find the solution to a problem. Sometimes the solutions work well from the beginning, other times they need to be adjusted a little, and sometimes they can even be real failures. However, the search is always worth while because we learn many things along the way. The key is agile learning.
At PIPA we have 4 ingredients to try to make the search effective: Purpose, leadership, methodology, and discipline.
What does the purpose consist of?
PIPA’s one purpose is to strengthen the administration’s mission, vision and values on the basis of professional training and development.
And who does all that?
In addition to the work of some CEICID people, it is professional administrators themselves who make this ecosystem grow by their voluntary efforts. Without them it would not be possible. Currently, around 100 people participate in the 12 projects that are being carried out. In the 10 months of PIPA’s life we have already completed two projects and we have a list of very interesting new proposals.
What is your take after these first ten months?
The feedback so far is certainly very positive.
In what sense?
On the one hand, we’re seeing the potential of the learning ecosystem. This is proven by the growth of the people who are working on the projects and how they have broadened their view of their day-to-day work. It is also proven by the way that those ideas are actually put into practice. I could tell you many ways in which I have seen the teams working on these projects grow. Specifically, they began as teams that did not know each other, lived in different cities and worked online, but they have managed to unite magnificently. Ideas that seemed impossible to achieve are beginning to be tested on the ground, such as flexible schedules, healthy diets, even operating through a collaborative work platform that keeps us connected. I am personally very impressed to see how the people who participate in the projects are able to combine their day-to-day work with contributing to the development of the work of the administration.
Cristina Bofarull highlights the power of collaborative work on the PIPA platform
How has this been possible?
Throughout this process we have worked hand in hand with Emêrgap, a consulting firm specializing in strategic transformation. Emêrgap has a specific methodology. With their help we have distilled the 4 main lines of work: presence in society, self-development, professionalism in management and adaptability of services. Once these lines were established, we set to work on projects that applied them in practice. Thanks to Emêrgap’s support we have been able to launch this platform and design our own methodology. A process like the one we are carrying out with PIPA requires professionals who can advise in cases of doubt or uncertainty. For us, going hand in hand with Emêrgap has been essential. Without their accompaniment, it would have been difficult to reach the levels we have.
The hospitality, tourism, and accommodation sector is currently in a process of innovation and digitization. Do you look to these sectors for inspiration in your innovation work?
It is always enriching to look at the sectors closest to our field, all of them related to the concept of Hospitality. Beyond this, I believe that the key is to learn from what the best do, regardless of the sector: continuous improvement of processes, an agile search for solutions, cooperation, starting from the user’s needs, focusing on retention of talents, etc.
And how can people join PIPA?
To join this platform, there aren’t any age or qualification requirements. You simply need to identify with our DNA, which is PURPOSE + AUTHENTICITY + HUMILITY + DISCIPLINE + LEADERSHIP + METHODOLOGY. It’s not a closed platform for a select few, nor is it inaccessible. Anyone who is willing to work and wants to contribute has a place in PIPA – just write to us and we will study where and how you can collaborate.
And what benefits do people get from joining in?
I would say that there are fundamentally three: learning to work with a team in a collaborative and delocalized manner, self-development, and acquiring a broader perspective of the challenges and progress of the work of the administration.
And how does PIPA work?
We have developed a methodology that may seem complex at first, but as soon as you get on board and apply it, you realize that it’s very simple. We work in teams of 5 to 9 people. These teams are led by two people whose job is to set the direction and pace of the work. Every two months the teams meet in the Innovation, Projects and Learning Committee, to set out the progress of each project.
When do you think you will be able to see the results of this work? What will it show?
I think the results of this work are already apparent. As I said earlier, the purpose of PIPA is not just designing and implementing projects, but using the learning and innovation that is generated in the process to create an ecosystem of development and learning. This for me is the first and best result. The people who are working on the projects have changed the way they perceive their work and are excited to develop ideas that help shape the work of the administration in the environment in which we live.
Of course, in addition to this, soon many of the projects that started this academic year will begin to be applied in practice, depending on the depth and complexity of each one. Then we’ll be able to see the results for ourselves.
You said that you are working on 12 projects. What are the first 12 «problems» that you selected to find solutions to, and why?
The 12 projects that are being worked on right now, and which will not be the only ones on the platform, respond to very varied needs – in terms both of the impact of the solutions, and the precise theme being tackled. As I mentioned before, we have 4 main lines of work: adaptability in services, professionalism in management, presence in society and self-development. The projects include more technical topics, such as improving eating habits to make them healthier, or working more ergonomically. I mentioned before that we have been using a collaborative platform – Workplace – in which administration professionals in Spain and other countries have already connected. There are other projects working on organizational structure issues: flexible hours adapted to individual needs; organizing work in small residences to achieve synergies and reduce total costs; digital tools to facilitate collaborative work, etc.
Finally, there is another line of work to do with human relationships: user-orientation, teamwork in small organizations, intergenerational relationships, etc. As you can imagine, each project is a world of its own and has its own rhythm. Some are already complete, and others are beginning to carry out their pilot tests.
To finish off, what would you say to people who do not yet know PIPA?
Paraphrasing an idea that is not mine, I would say that PIPA helps me to see the administration as a whole, and in perspective. I do not work to improve things as I see them; I put myself at the service of any challenge faced by the administration in its entirety.