The holy trinity of sustainability or the CMD cycle


The holy trinity exists in several religions. In the Hindu religion, in particular, it is represented by Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva. Brahma is known as the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. That is the only reference to religion I’ll make in this post.

Creation is the means to infuse innovation, preservation sustains that innovation, and destruction ensures that new creation can happen again using the resources that are thus liberated.

The creation, preservation or maintenance, and destruction (CMD) functions are easily perceptible in a market economy, where opportunities and threats morph a product or company. A product or company can only survive when its feature or components are in varying stages of creation, preservation and destruction, such that it can compete with similar products or companies.

I’ll generalize the creation, preservation and destruction paradigm to another area, sustainability, a buzzword-du-jour. We as a species have gone on a creation spree that now extends some millenia. We are only just learning to preserve. It is now a given that only when we learn to destroy will we be truly sustainable.

If you are like me, you own a smartphone or two, but every couple of years you want to buy a new one. During that period, the corporation that brought you the smartphone posts applications, services, software updates, and replacement parts. This is the maintenance obligation being fulfilled by the corporation. It is then extremely important that someone fulfill the destroyer role. It can be eBay if you donate or auction the smartphone.

This is a superficial arrangement. Truly fundamental destruction needs to happen at some stage, when the fundamental building blocks of the smartphone are either reused or returned to nature in a benign form. That applied to any product or service will bring our species to the point of true sustainability. Till we get there, we may be locking-up our creativity in stuff that is increasingly difficult to maintain.

Is it time to innovate in destructive technology? Our next war is surely against ourselves!

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