Disrupt Convention When Technology Disrupts

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Earlier during the day, I was in a conference related to Information Technologies. Speaker after speaker went on to belabour the need for adopting new tools and techniques, getting prepared for disruption in people’s behaviour with the advent of new technologies. Above all, they were outlining the impact of those ‘disruptive’ technologies and narrating a story each, some call it ‘use case’, idealising such scenario with a high-intensity plot.

They were not out of context. They were not speaking something irrelevant. Even they were not envisioning something that may not happen tomorrow. They were right.

Disruption happens for all of us. It happens at all stages of life. Technologies we acquire and the techniques we master come handy at the time of disruption. No technology or tool will be of any use for us if we are not aware of its relevance, if we do not break free of convention for solving problems.

This situation reminds me of an old story.

Once upon a time, a mighty king was marching with his guards and slaves through a deep jungle. He lost his entire team when a group of robbers attacked his convoy, but he could escape unhurt. After wandering for quite a while in the wild, he felt tired and hungry. Then he could see a small hut nearby.

He moved straight inside.

A Rishi, looking like a frail figure, had sat in deep meditation unaware of the new guest. The king shouted to draw Rishi’s attention. After all, he was the king of the land; and his simple presence could compel many men and women to fall over one another for serving him.

Rishi opened his eyes, and seeing the king in front, requested him to be seated and to accept a brief hospitality. Then he went to get some fresh water from a fountain nearby and to fetch a bunch of sweet fruits for the guest.

In a short while, he returned with water and fruits to see something that is both intriguing and shocking.

A cobra had entered the hut, and the king had climbed the raised platform meant for meditation. Rishi advised the king to remain calm, and waited for a while.

In a few minutes, the snake lost aggression and slithered away into the bush outside.

The king was angry and demanded why Rishi did not kill the snake. The reptile had the audacity to confront the king of the land!

Rishi replied, “Oh King! I see this snake everyday, and it never attacked me nor disrupted my lifestyle. Today it did differently. But then I dealt with the situation without any action from my side – without disrupting its lifestyle.”

Continuing with his explanation, Rishi said, “Of course, I should not expect the same reaction from you. But you had your sword with you. You had the tool. You knew the tricks of weaponry. In fact, you are a great warrior as I have heard from people who pass by my hut. But you did not use the tool or the techniques you possessed, and rather relied on your convention of waiting for people to do things for you.”

Did the king understand his folly? I don’t know. What happened next? I am not sure. But I know that disruption can occur anytime, and you know it too. And we must be aware of using the tools and techniques that we have at our disposal at the moment to deal with it. We need to think differently and do differently, breaking away from the established convention, while dealing with disruptions – certainly not referring to the activities inside Indian Parliament.

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