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The Yin 陰 and Yang 陽 Energy of Alibaba

By May 16, 2015 No Comments

Strong energy:

Alibaba  is one of the world´s most exciting and vibrant start up and well, yes… the biggest online commerce company in the world (handling hundreds of millions of users, and hosting millions of merchants and businesses) and it was the highest IPO in history of the US.

Jack Ma (马云) , co-founder, executive chairman and bizarre leader of the Chinese E-Commerce giant Alibaba Group, wants to make sure that Alibaba lasts for 100 years (a way for Chinese to show they are serious about creating a corporate-legacy). So it looks like this flourishing of Alibaba will not stop now that they cover the 80% of China’s online shopping market, but they will go global now. (more info here).

To accomplish this global new vision, Jack Ma has a new ally, Daniel Zhang the new CEO of the company with 2 clear objectives: make Alibaba even bigger and transform company culture to a Global Mindset to the upcoming internationalization process of Alibaba. “We need to have global talent. We will have employees from all over the world that look different from each other” were some of the words of Zhang on his welcoming speech.

Alibaba Group got two main tools to face the global market: Tmall Global, which lets international companies sell directly to customers in China and AliExpress a platform for international customers to buy products from China.

“Everyone has a different perspective on Alibaba. In the U.S., we are described as a Chinese company, but in China, the focus is on our foreign business.” We will need to take these Jack Ma’s words very seriously. Alibaba

About the Yin Yang:

In Chinese philosophy, Yin 陰 and Yang 陽  describes how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.

The Yin represents the soft part, the emotions, the female energy and the moon. While the yang represents the hard, the logic, the male energy and the sun. And all these elements are combined in a constant flow looking for an harmonious way.

As you can see, Alibaba’s Yang energy is quite clear and visible. But what’s behind this energy? How does Alibaba’s Yin energy work?

The other side of Alibaba:

Thanks to our partners in China ‘Innovate Organizational Development Center (IOC-OD)’ and ‘Mondragon Team Academy China’ we have been able to visit Alibaba’s HQs in different occasions and get to know the Yin side of such an exciting company.

Let’s start sharing that Alibaba is an extremely Yin – Idealistic and extremely Yang – Realistic company at the same time. While the KPIs are in the minds of all the staff all the time and everyday, at the same time they focus on the long term vision (transforming the civilization of business world and make grassroots entrepreneurs to fight the power back – kind of a thing) and therefore they are more flexible and able to react on their toes to face the tension between reality and future of the internet business.

At Alibaba HQs in the beautiful city of Hangzhou we meet with Beryl and TaoYi the leaders in charge of the Organizational Design and Development of the company (Quite a big challenge!). They started sharing that Alibaba is like a human being with the same type of challenges and feelings. They described that in order to maintain such a vivid Yang energy of the company they needed also a strong Yin system in order to align the body-mind-heart of the company:

Captura de pantalla 2015-05-16 a la(s) 18.32.48

The essence of the company is to create an apparently almighty vision, share it with the world, and later on create a flexible strategy and passionate culture to make it happen. For that they need to create a flexible enough structure of allow sky and land sustain the needs and dreams of customers (1st), employees (2nd) and stakeholders (3rd).

Captura de pantalla 2015-05-16 a la(s) 18.33.14

While the Yang energy of Alibaba is focused on the creation of online marketplaces,  entertainment experiences, international logistics and strong financing structure (being a data-centric company) the Yin energy sustains the entrepreneurial culture, global mindset and creates a mind-body-heart connection between the leading thoughts of the company and the energy of each one of the employees and customers.

We are looking forward to continue exploring China and merging East and West knowledge and philosophy and to follow the DOT vision of creating a global platform, merging east & west on design for social impact through team-(intra)entrepreneurship. We are very excited about he possibility of working together with ‘IOC-OD’ and ‘Mondragon Team Academy China’


PD: Iñigo wants to specially thank Maria, YuJiao and Yvonne (IOC-OD team) to make this possible and the MINNzer team for the great contribution to the Team-Entrepreneurship learning inside Alibaba.

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