• Loading...
  • Welcome to my personal website. My passion is making valuable connections between people and ideas. I’m retained by several organizations to do exactly that and enjoy taking on special projects.

    I’m based in the UK at the moment and hope you will be in touch if you think that I can help you in some way or if you think that we could work together. Please have a read about the sort of things I’m up to.

    Bonsai Britain?

    Thursday 24th February 2011, 12:52pm

     bonsai tree

    Muhammad Yunus is the founder of the Grameen Bank.  The microfinance organisation has over 8 million borrowers, 97% of whom are women.

    He won the Nobel Peace prize in 2006, and in his acceptance speech, he said something which caught my imagination;

    “To me poor people are like bonsai trees. When you plant the best seed of the tallest tree in a flower-pot, you get a replica of the tallest tree, only inches tall. There is nothing wrong with the seed you planted, only the soil-base that is too inadequate. Poor people are bonsai people. There is nothing wrong in their seeds. Simply, society never gave them the base to grow on. All it needs to get the poor people out of poverty for us to create an enabling environment for them. Once the poor can unleash their energy and creativity, poverty will disappear very quickly.”

    I was reminded of his words this week, thinking not about people but about companies.

    Put bluntly, how do we avoid becoming Bonsai Britain? 

    Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the idea that small is beautiful.  But what about the companies which have massive ambitions for growth, yet struggle.  Have they potted themselves in the wrong place?  Can the richness of the soil be increased?  How do you go from dead wood to Redwood?

    There is a literal, geographical answer to this, which I’m sure will be discussed during next month’s WebMission to San Francisco. 

    Maybe the antidote to Bonsai Britain is a bit more sophisticated.

    How would you increase the richness of the soil base?  Three ideas:

    Whatever the other factors, Grameen is an inspiration, because it reminds us that amazing things can be started from small beginnings.  On that theme, I have some exciting Tenner news which I can share next week…

    Until then, what do you think about Bonsai Britain? Silly, or a cause for concern?  And what would you do to change things? 

    2 Responses to “Bonsai Britain?”

    1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Oli Barrett, Brickyard Partners. Brickyard Partners said: Bonsai Britain http://ow.ly/42DC6 Business potential based on the "soil" your business is planted in. Great post by @OliBarrett [...]

    2. Malcolm says:

      Riveting read Oli B…

      a couple of cents…

      Bonsai Britain is a cause for concern…as is Bosnai planet.

      How do we get the kids (in Britain and beyond) to understand the infinitely expansive richness of the soil in between their own 2 ears?

      The mind is the last great unexplored continent on earth.

      It is massively influenced by TV, video games, parents, teachers and the books we read (or don’t read). And the first 10 years of our lives have a massive impact. So to prevent Bonsai planet let’s figure out how to turn Bonsai thinking into Big Tree thinking when we’re tilling the soil in the minds of the young’uns.

    Leave a Reply