Lots of references lately to "micro" things (I was going to write this whole post in tiny font but it was TOO SMALL:
In reference to micro-credit (for which work Dr. Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize) and other small but powerful actions, Gabriel Shirley and participants in one of his sessions at the recent Storyfield conference talked about needing a "metaphor for how small changes that individuals make have a larger collective impact (beyond the one about a butterfly, since that metaphor doesn't appeal to masculine and/or other cultures)"
In the Seattle Times today there was a feature about doctors who are opting for what are called "micropractices" -- solo (or very small group) practices with really low overhead combined with high-tech scheduling, billing and record management tools, that allow practitioners to make a good living while still allowing 30 to 60 minutes per patient visit. One therapist says, "It's an updating of a successful old model of a doctor working out of a limited space, giving people the time they need, answering phone calls personally and offering quick appointments to those who call. The way a contemporary micropractice differs is that it uses 21st century technology to eliminate all or most staff, and to cut through the paperwork that caused most doctors to leave solo practice. As a result the overhead is low. This allows you to spend more time with people and less time on administration" and it is a trend that seems to be catching on.
Speaking of trends: a couple of days ago the newest issue of ChangeThis included the manifesto Just 1%: The Power of Microtrends which talks about how "we can no longer understand the world in terms of a few megaforces sweeping us all along. Rather, society is being pushed and pulled by "microtrends" -- small, under-the-radar forces that can involve as little as 1% of the population. In fact by the time a trend hits 1 percent, it is ready to spawn a hit movie, create a political movement, even start a war."
During the last part of August some lanes of the main freeway that goes through Seattle were closed for repair, and terrible traffic jams were predicted by most people, but not by mathematician Oliver Downs of Inrix. Using a process called quantum tunneling (whatever that is -- but it sounds likes something both tiny and vast), they blend huge amounts of traffic data with an analysis of drivers' behavior in the past. Because of the "fifty thousand little things," -- the many and various choices made by people all over the region -- the gridlock that was predicted didn't happen. (My experience, making my own somewhat contrary little choice to drive on that stretch of road, was that the traffic was indeed very light)
I am intrigued by the desire of Gabriel & his colleagues to find an evocative image to describe the obvious power of accumulated small actions and decisions to create powerful and sometimes unexpected effects. What do you think?
above: tiny snail on a tiny blueberry that I plucked from the not-so-tiny, but underwatered, blueberry bush in my front yard.