Thursday, November 08, 2007

Slow Down Culture


An interesting reflection: Slow Down Culture

It's been 18 years since I joined Volvo, a Swedish
company. Working for
them has proven to be an interesting experience. Any
project here takes 2
years to be finalized, even if the idea is simple
and brilliant. It's a

Globalize processes have caused in us (all over the
world) a general sense
of searching for immediate results. Therefore, we
have come to posses a
need to see immediate results. This contrasts
greatly with the slow
movements of the Swedish. They, on the other hand,
debate, debate, debate,
hold x quantity of meetings and work with a
slowdown scheme. At the end,
this always yields better results.

Said in another words:
1. Sweden is about the size of
San Pablo, a state in Brazil.
2. Sweden has 2 million
3. Stockholm, has 500,000 people.
4. Volvo, Escania, Ericsson,
Electrolux, Nokia are some
of its renowned companies (Volvo supplies the

The first time I was in Sweden, one of my
colleagues picked me up at the
hotel every morning. It was September, bit cold and
snowy. We would arrive
early at the company and he would park far away
from the entrance (2000
employees drive their car to work). The first day, I
didn't say anything,
either the second or third. One morning I asked,
"Do you have a fixed
parking space? I've noticed we park far from the
entrance even when there
are no other cars in the lot." To which he replied,
"Since we're here early
we'll have time to walk, and whoever gets in late
will be late and need a
place closer to the door. Don't you think so? Imagine
my face.

Nowadays, there's a movement in Europe named
Slow Food. This movement
establishes that people should eat and drink
slowly, with enough time to
taste their food, spend time with the family,
friends, without rushing.
Slow Food is against its counterpart: the spirit of
Fast Food and what it
stands for as a lifestyle. Slow Food is the basis
for a bigger movement
called Slow Europe, as mentioned by Business Week.
Basically, the movement
questions the sense of "hurry" and craziness"
generated by globalization,
fueled by the desire of "having in quantity" (life
status) versus "having
with quality", "life quality" or the quality of

French people, even though they work only 35
hours per week, are more
productive than Americans or British. Germans
have established 29 hour
workweeks and have seen their productivity been driven
up by 20%. This slow
attitude has brought forth the US's attention,
pupils of the fast and the
"do it now!". This no-rush attitude doesn't represent
doing less or having
a lower productivity. It means working and
doing things with greater
quality, perfection, with more attention to
detail and less stress. It
means reducing rejects and wastage. It means
reestablishing family values,
friends, free and leisure time. Taking the "now",
present and concrete,
versus the "global", undefined and anonymous
future. It means taking
humans' essential values, the simplicity of living.
It stands for a less
coercive work environment, more happy, lighter and
more productive where
humans enjoy doing what they know best how to do.

It's time to stop and think on how companies
need to develop serious
quality with no-rush that will increase
productivity and the quality of
products and services, without losing the essence of

In the movie, Scent of a Woman, there's a scene where
Al Pacino asks a girl
to dance and she replies, "I can't, my boyfriend
will be here any minute
now". To which Al responds, "A life is lived in
an instant". Then they
dance to a tango.

Many of us live our lives running behind time, but we
only reach it when we
die of a heart attack or in a car accident rushing
to be on time. Others
are so anxious of living the future that they forget
to live the present,
which is the only time that truly exists. We all have
equal time throughout
the world. No one has more or less. The difference
lies in how each one of
us does with our time. We need to live each moment.

As John Lennon said, "Life is what happens to you
while you're busy making
other plans".

Congratulations for reading till the end of this
message. There are many
who will have stopped in the middle so as not
to waste time in this
globalized world.

1 comment:

sphere41 said...

Very Good thought!

One of the reasons I think that we all are in hurry in what ever we do is, we don't have an aim and object. Even if we have those, we don't have the proper directions or roads to those. When either one of the two is missing, we tend to be in fast forward mode! When we have knowledge of both, we are pushed into a competetion who would reach first, thinking as if there is only one position available. Since each person is different in this world, each one has to give themselves some time in analyzing why am I like this? What can I change in myself to make myself happy and my family happy and all others happy who deal with me! I am sure when eveyone does this and optimize themselves for their own betterment, the world will be a better place soon!