by Jean-Marc Charles

To explain how BlaBlaCar (Comuto SA) is set-up, let’s take the Mascot as an analogy:

Fig 1. BlaBlaVitruve (Comuto SA)

Little reminder: this mascot is used in BlaBlaCar’s marketing campaign.

What interests us here is: what is inside the Mascot? How is it organized? What is its anatomy? If the Mascot is the company in this illustration, then how is the company organized? You may have heard of the many tribes within BlaBlaCar so now let’s take some time to really explain the notion of Tribes and their importance.

Let’s open this Mascot in two parts and see what is inside (Warning, graphic content! Viewer discretion is advised).

inside the mascot
Fig 2. BlaBlaNatomy: section of a BlaBlaMascot

Tribes Details

We can compare the Tribe’s role in BlaBlaCar with the function of an organ in an individual something that is indispensable. The Tribe has its reasons for being and its own function.

Tribes are autonomous and indispensable.

Like organs, the Tribes have no vocation to interact with each other, however they are inextricably linked and their existence is essential for the overall operation, which in this case is the company.

There is no unique entity which exists to rule everything. However all organs communicate with each other and the nervous system transfers important information. For instance, we can compare the pain in the body with a crisis in a Tribe; the information would be transferred to the nervous system who would manage it.

But it’s not the nervous system which dictates the operation of the organ: it does not tell the stomach to digest food. The stomach is autonomous. Likewise the Tribe must be sufficiently autonomous to understand why it exists and what its function is (and how to execute it). It only needs a pulse from the nervous system to fulfill its role.


Organ details

Let’s look at the details of an organ:

Fig 3. BlaBlaNatomy detail: the Tribe

A Tribe is an organ. It must have a reason for being, must know what to do and how to do it. For a Tribe there are three important questions to be asked.

The why is the objective, the what is what you need to do to achieve it, and the how is the way you achieve it.

As an example, let’s take the organ “Heart”:

  • The heart’s Why would be: “Oxygen must be brought from the lungs to other organs”
  • The What would be: “Blood needs to be pumped to circulate oxygen in the body”
  • The How: “Thanks to regular electrical pulses, the heart’s muscle contracts and helps blood circulate. Valves are also in place to prevent blood from flowing back and forth.”

Let’s apply this analogy for a Tribe with the “ID check” project:

  • The Why: “Members in India need to validate their ID before their trip”
  • The What: “They could upload the photo of their ID and the application could validate it”
  • The How: “We will plug a provider’s API which allow us to validate this data, then we will display the status on the website”

It is important to note that these three notions are equally important and are not hierarchically ranked. All of these questions are essential; they must all be understood in order for one coherent whole to be achieved. If there is an imbalance in this trio, the consequences can be catastrophic. What would happen if heart pulses (the How) slowed down while the body was running and requiring oxygen (the Why)?

This paragraph shows the importance of the autonomy of the organs (and thus Tribes) and their essential role for the system operation.

I am not a Tribe

Don’t panic! In this case, we use the notion of “Support Team”. If we keep the analogy with a living system (our Mascot), we can compare this team to those that help keep the organ alive; just as essential and important.

Within a living system there is the nervous system (internal communications team), blood flow (resources and skills), muscles and skeleton (architects), physical appearance (corporate & community communications team), language (GILT), and ears (International Teams), etc.


BlaBlaCar can be compared to a complex living system. Whether it’s Tribes or Support Teams, each of them has an essential place defined by “Why” they exist and their function (the “What” and “How”). It is necessary that our teams master these three aspects, because in a complex organism, there is no centralized entity which is able to control everything. This ultimately gives everyone great autonomy, allowing individuals to flourish.

BlaBlaNatomy skeleton
Fig 4. Full Anatomy

BlaBlaNatomie 3

Thanks to Zita & Verena for the review!

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