Covid has shown us the value of microsystems in transforming macrosystems. Wasafiri’s Senior Manager in our Food Systems & Inclusive Growth Portfolio Eunice Khaguli shares her thoughts on how this can be leveraged.
| Microsystem – a system of groups and institutions with the most immediate and direct impact on an individual’s development.
The disruption of COVID-19 has revived traditional micro-systems that were long dismissed or cannibalized by commercial initiatives.
In an effort to relearn and adapt to present realities, I find myself reexamining local structures and actors’ potential to revive economies and respond to the ongoing pandemic. The past nine months have been both disruptive and awakening. In every sector and geo, we have witnessed the emergence of new pathways and networks: microsystems that are embedded in ‘collapsed’ or strained macro-systems are revealing themselves. Ironically and thankfully, many of these micro systems are thriving. They are making the most of a bad situation, using any and every available pathway; virtual and physical, local and global, to adapt and evolve. These micro-systems are not to be ignored. Instead they present new opportunities for learning about how systems adapt in real time, and how such micro-systems can be harnessed.
Microsystems have grown and thrived in complex, rapidly-shifting environments.
These are environments where accessibility remains a challenge, policy is nonexistent, and traditional businesses struggle. For example, technological microsystems are rapidly evolving to meet ever increasing demands for enabling new forms of educational delivery, remote working, public health awareness and virus tracking.
For the private sector, the drive to recover or revive enterprise through tax relief and bailout funding is being complimented by investment in new forms of business support organizations. There is a renewed focus on strengthening the microsystems of intermediaries be they lenders, trainers, union or market connectors. Internally, many multinationals are adapting management structures to better respond to the pandemic. Increasingly, they are finding new leaders in unexpected places, well down the organisation chart: first responders in regional offices and local outlets.
In healthcare, there is a renewed focus in the design of small functional clinical units; the essential building blocks of health systems. The urgency and separation effected by the pandemic is transforming these frontline health care microsystems. As a result, primary and specialist health care providers are working side by side on the frontline, at an accelerated pace, to provide high-quality, safe, and affordable care. As the pandemic continues to spread, and formal medical systems groan, or even collapse under the pressure, such micro-systems have further evolved to include mobile and remote frontline medical care for patients who can’t access hospitals. Such examples highlight the potential to better leverage macro-systems for both emergency and general medical care.
Microsystems offer new ways to shift macrosystems
Indeed, just as societal transformation starts with shifts in the way individuals and groups interact and behave, this blog suggests that anyone seeking to harness the disruptive impact of Covid for systems change, should look first to the potential of micro-systems. These may well offer powerful pathways for transforming the macro-systems they are part of, and pose new entry points for mitigating the worst of the pandemic.
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 Clinical Microsystems , Success Characteristics Of Highperforming Microsystems, Eugene C. Nelson, Paul B. Batalden, Thomas P. Huber, Julie K. Johnson, Marjorie M. Godfrey, Linda A. Headrick, John H. Wasson Last Updated on Fri, 29 May 2020