Devdutt Pattanaik, acclaimed author, mythologist and leadership coach speaks about the human touch of technology and how organizations can help bring more balance between mind, skills and technology.
How to use technology in today’s world? Are we building great technology but mediocre people? How can great technology make people better? These are some of the pressing questions of how technology is affecting people today.
The Technology Question
Across all sorts of fields, we see technology being used to replace the mind by creating uniformity of action through systems and processes.
This begets the question, are we only creating an illusion of collaboration and conversation?
Look at the story of Prometheus and Epimetheus, who are referred to as Bhrigu and Brihaspati in Hindu philosophy. While one fears the lessons of the past, the other fears the future. Organizations make similar mistakes with technology today. They are either afraid of repeating mistakes or unsure of what to do next.
The Trilogy of Mantra, Tantra and Yantra
Mythology shows us the way to how organizations can bring more balance to the use of technology, through Mantra, Tantra and Yantra. Mantra refers to the mind or in an organizational context, the person who thinks. Tantra refers to the body or the skills that labour brings. And lastly, Yantra is technology.
Every organization needs all three to function well. On its own, technology can’t function. It needs to be checked and aligned to your needs from time to time. Hence mantra or mind must check on tantra and yantra. This balance is needed at work as in life.
The Bow or the Archer?
As the bow and archer need to work in tandem to win a war (one can’t function without the other) so does technology need people. Technology continuously gets redundant as it is changing so rapidly, so it can’t function without people checking it and aligning it back to the need of the hour. Organizations must learn this.
Take the example of Arjun, who had the yantra (bow and arrow) and tantra (warrior skill) and yet froze in battle because his mind was not aligned. Hence, we do need technology, but nothing would work without the minds of the people behind it.
Ultimately, technology is meant to make us better, not invalidate us or breed mediocrity. The human side of technology must come to the forefront. As we move forward, we will have to abandon the technology we know. And adapt others that might be below us, but which we will need to survive.
When hiding in Virata’s court, Arjun the Archer needed to learn to become Arjun the Dancer. That’s the learning of the Shastras – reskill to survive.
Devdutt Pattanaik writes on the relevance of Indian and world mythology in modern times. Trained in medicine, he worked for 15 years in the healthcare and pharma industries before he plunged full time into his passion. With over 50 books, 500 workshops, 1000 columns, and 3000 illustrations, not to mention popular TV shows such as Devlok and Business Sutra, he has invested 25 years in making Indian culture accessible to the next generation, and useful in a global context.View Profile