The Age-old Promise and Conflict of People-Process-Technology

Since the dawn of time, when people discovered how to make tools and use fire (technology), things have never been the same. As a species, how we fed, clothed, sheltered and took care of ourselves (process) changed dramatically. Some would argue that’s when People, Process and Technology really came together. And some would also argue that’s when the promise and the conflict of this triumvirate also reared their head.

You can imagine when the first caveman figured out that if he took a long stick, smoothed it out, and sharpened the end to a point (made a spear), and that if he threw that spear into an animal, it was far more effective than throwing rocks and/or chasing animals down and beating them to death with a club. It gave him and his clan more success in their hunting endeavors, especially with larger animals. The result was more meat on the table for the group. Having this bounty aided the development of new processes to cook and utilize the hides/skins for clothing. That was the “promise.”

With that same technology came “conflict.” Someone in the group was able to convince the others in the clan to use those spears to eliminate their rival clans and/or impose their will over them and even members of their own group when necessary. That’s when process also became power. Much later, power became culture, customs and laws.

As we move through time we continuously see the promise and conflict created by People-Process-Technology:

  • Gunpowder – The process/technology of making gunpowder ushered in the era of fireworks and the promise of a new form of entertainment. The conflict – transforming that technology into the power needed to launch arrows, bullets and bombs for protection or aggression.
  • Democracy – More powerful than technology, this was a new concept or “process” of governing. The “promise,” as laid out by the Founding Fathers of our nation, was built upon a document (the Constitution) that promised life, liberty and freedom for all. The conflict: Many of the Founding Fathers were themselves slaveholders, and their wealth and power depended on human bondage.
  • Nuclear power – The promise is having a sustainable power source that also reduces carbon emissions. The conflict is with the environment in the event of an accident, as in Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi.
  • In vitro fertilization – This is a complex series of procedures used to treat infertility or genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child. The promise is that couples who have had problems conceiving a child significantly increase their chances of becoming parents. The conflict arises when many religious people rebel at the concept of creation of life outside a women’s womb, as well as have angst over same-sex couples embracing this technology to have children.

As this triumvirate of People-Process-Technology continues to change the planet and mankind itself, one thing remains clear… Process and technology really do not matter. What matters is how people decide to use them. Promise or conflict?

Glen D. Hall is Senior Vice President of Sales at MD Buyline.

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