Charles Handy & The Birth of the Bonsai Business Model

I first coined the term “Bonsai Business Model” in 2006, during an Executive Management class taught by Mr. Charles Handy, eminent social philosopher, former BBC radio show host and co-founder of the London School of Business.

Mr. Handy served as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California, where I attended the Executive Management Program.

During an assigned presentation in Mr. Handy’s class, I introduced my personal business philosophy I had groomed over years as a business owner. My approach to business had much in common with caring for bonsai, and so I coined the term, Bonsai Business Model (BBM).

Mr. Handy took immediately to the notion. That evening after class, during his guest appearance on Marketplace, Kai Ryssdal’s weekday business program featured on National Public Radio (NPR), Mr. Handy introduced the “Bonsai Business Model” as a counter-intuitive approach to business.

Over the next few days, phone calls from NPR listeners started coming into the Drucker School, seeking more information about the Bonsai Business Model.

In response, Mr. Handy encouraged me write more about my counterintuitive and ecological approach to business. This website is the result of Mr. Handy’s encouragement, to whom I remain grateful for nurturing the BBM, and for his heart, which embodies the core principles of the BBM.