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Jack Ma: I fired 95% of the MBAs

Jack Ma: I fired 95% of the MBAs

By Ruban SaundersPublished 6 months ago 5 min read

In September 1999, was established, and Ma was determined to make it a guide for small and medium enterprises to open the door to wealth. In October, when Alibaba received $5 million in venture funding led by Goldman Sachs, one of the things Mr. Ma immediately set out to do was bring in a lot of outside talent from Hong Kong and the United States.

Ma declared that "entrepreneurs can only hold the position of company commander and below, and all the positions above the head level are held by MBA". At the time, all of Alibaba's 12-person executive team, except Mr. Ma himself, were from overseas.

Over the next few years, Alibaba hired more Mbas, including those from schools like Harvard and Stanford, as well as those from domestic universities. But 95 percent of those Mbas were later fired by Ma. Ma later recalled: I debated with Professor Zhang Weiying of Peking University. First of all, I admitted that my level was relatively poor. 95% of MBA students were expelled by me. How can I fire 95% of them? There must be a mistake. Because when these MBAs come in and talk to you about an annual salary of at least 100,000 yuan, they are all strategic. Every time you hear those experts talk to Mbas, you get excited, and then you don't know where to start.

'What do you learn first when you go to business school? As an entrepreneur, the success of small entrepreneurs depends on savvy, the success of entrepreneurs on management, and the success of big entrepreneurs in life. Therefore, business education to cultivate MBA, first and foremost to teach people. Mr. Ma said of the MBAs: "The basic etiquette, professionalism, and professionalism are terrible." As soon as these people enter Alibaba, they seem to be in charge of people. As soon as they come in, they will overthrow all the things of the entrepreneurs in front of them.

Ma never denies the management level of those professional managers, their level is like an airplane engine, but the question is, is such a high-performance engine suitable for a tractor? Ma thus summed up a theory about the use of talent: only the people who fit the needs of the enterprise are the real talent. He makes an analogy to getting out of the MBA: It's like putting an airplane engine on a tractor and it doesn't fly. We did make that mistake early on. Those professional managers are good at management, but they are not suitable. The company wasn't big enough for someone like that.

For a long time, in the eyes of many people, only a high degree, a high title of talent can be considered a talent, otherwise, even if there is an ability, no paper diploma or title, can not be called a talent. However, there is a famous saying in the West: "Garbage is misplaced wealth." Is not a talent, the key is to see it in what position, let him do things, as long as he can do well in this position, make achievements, he is a talent; If not, no matter how many crowns he holds, he is not a talent. So, in a sense, "applicable" is talent. Ma Yun hung an inscription on the wall of the office: "Make good use of talents as the main principle of the big leader, this Liu Bang Liu Bei is the reason why the great cause also. May Brother Ma always encourage it." This calligraphy was given to Jack Ma by Jin Yong in 2000. Ma said: "I hang in front of the desk, this is for me to see, hang in the back is for others to see. Seeing this every day is also a reminder to myself."

To build an excellent enterprise is not to defeat all rivals, but to form its unique competitive advantages, to establish its team, mechanism, and culture. I might do it for another five years, or 10 years, but eventually, I have to leave. Before I leave, I will set up Alibaba, Taobao's unique competitive advantages, and the enterprise growth mechanism. When the time comes, it will not matter whether there is Jack Ma or not. To make sure that the organization grows smoothly and fast, we need to make sure that no matter how fast Alibaba grows, there are people available when we need them.

How can the team form its competitive mechanism? Ma thinks the most important thing is to rely on learning.

"The other day, I organized some senior people in my company to watch 'History in the Sky'. This is a good drama about a farmer who grows up to be a general. The main character, Jiang Daya, is almost a bandit at the beginning, but through continuous study and practice, he not only learns guerrilla warfare, large-scale operations, and mechanized operations, but also integrates his innovation, and eventually becomes a victorious general. Like many small and medium-sized enterprises, Alibaba expects its employees to be like Jiang Daya, constantly reinventing, learning, and innovating so that the company can continue to grow."

In terms of talent selection, Alibaba adopts a combination of external recruitment and internal training, among which internal training is the focus. In the e-commerce industry, Alibaba has been at the forefront. It is difficult to meet the large and high-quality demand for talents of the business that is growing exponentially every year by simply relying on the mass absorption of mature talents from other companies. Alibaba's unique cultural atmosphere and values are difficult for foreigners to fully understand in a short period. If you can't agree on values, it's hard to forge a consensus on the long-term business. Therefore, Alibaba mainly focuses on internal training, including "cultivating people" and "selecting people".

In terms of training, according to the level and function of employees, Alibaba subdivides learning into Ali Party School, Ali Night School, Ali Classroom, Ali night talk, and Organization Department. In addition, given the huge sales force, Alibaba also set up a special sales training department; The "Send Classes to the Countryside" program ensures that training and learning resources reach the places where front-line employees live. For talents in key positions, Alibaba also has a "succession plan" to develop competency models for different positions and cultivate reserve forces.

In Alibaba, due to the rapid development of business and the urgency of hiring, some young managers are full of passion but lack management experience. They cannot effectively coach their subordinates and lead the team to create overall performance, which results in their inability to get full development. Therefore, although 360-degree feedback is popular in the market at present, Alibaba more often adopts various forms such as employee discussion, "small word newspaper", management forums, surveys, and interviews to meet the needs of managers to understand the feelings of subordinates, continuously improve management methods and adjust management concepts.

Jack Ma firmly believes that only the enterprise that continuously adds value to individuals is a good platform for employees to exert their value.


About the Creator

Ruban Saunders

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