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Old 12th February 2007, 21:13   #1
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Default An interesting reflection : Slow Down Culture

Got this from a mail forward. Has no connection with Automobiles apart from the fact that the author of this is/was an employee of Volvo. Very interesting reading. Sweden seems my kind of place
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From the land of ABBA and Borg

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 rule.

Globalized processes have caused in us (all over the world) a general sense of searching for immediate results. We have come to possess 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 endless meetings and work with a slowdown scheme. At the end though, this always yields outstanding results.

Said in another words:

Sweden is about the size of San Pablo, a state in Brazil.

Sweden has 2 million inhabitants.

Stockholm, has 500,000 people.

Volvo, Escania, Ericsson, Electrolux, Nokia are some of its renowned companies. Volvo supplies the NASA.

The first time I was in Sweden, one of my colleagues picked me up at the hotel every morning. It was September, cold and snowy. We would arrive early at the company and he would park far away from the entrance (2000 employees drive their cars to work). The first day, I didn't say anything, neither the second nor the 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 in a hurry and need a place closer to the door. Don't you think?"

Nowadays, there's a movement in Europe name 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" or the "quality of being". The French, even though they work 35 hours per week, are more productive than the Americans or British. The Germans have established 28.8 hour workweeks and have seen productivity 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 lower productivity. It means working and doing things with greater quality, productivity, perfection, with attention to detail and less stress. It means reestablishing family values, friends and leisure time. Taking the "now", present and concrete, versus the "global", undefined and anonymous. It means taking essential human values, the simplicity of living.

It stands for a less coercive work environment, happier, lighter and more productive where people 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 spirit.

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 what 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 getting to the end of this message. There are many who would've stopped in the middle so as not to waste time in this "globalized" world.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." - Einstein

Last edited by sharathjeppu : 12th February 2007 at 21:17. Reason: Formatting correction
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Old 12th February 2007, 22:28   #2
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Nokia is a Finnish company......

But nice article !!

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Old 12th February 2007, 23:06   #3
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Nice article. Europe can afford to slow down, having spent a couple of centuries at the top of the pile.

We cannot afford the same. We have to work hard and work long. Quality AND Quantity are both important. Let them take it easy, we'll catch up.
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Old 13th February 2007, 10:24   #4
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Boy, to deal with European institutions is a nightmare for me! They are just to unbelievably slow.......and one thing I have noticed is that the bigger the organisation, the worse it gets. Forget the USA, even Singapore and Canadian offices have given me a far superior level of professional support. A friend of mine used to work with a german biggie in strategy. He quit because by the time his strategies were implemented, it was too late and the market had moved on.
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Old 13th February 2007, 13:54   #5
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LOL ! cant afford to go that slow. if i go slow, then someone else will take my place in the front.
nice write up though.
cheers. gotto hurry now
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Old 13th February 2007, 16:40   #6
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I guess every country has its own way of doing business.
Americans are cut and dry. They will tell you on your face if they will do business with you or not. This is not probably how the other cultures do business and each is unique.

In India I think the business culture (especially in the software space) has molded itself to the American way of doing business. My thinking is that there's no right or wrong. They are just different.

Here's something that I stumbled upon while googling on this topic.
Etiquette Guides to Doing Business Abroad
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Old 13th February 2007, 17:16   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sharathjeppu View Post
The first time I was in Sweden, one of my colleagues picked me up at the hotel every morning. It was September, cold and snowy. We would arrive early at the company and he would park far away from the entrance (2000 employees drive their cars to work). The first day, I didn't say anything, neither the second nor the 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 in a hurry and need a place closer to the door. Don't you think?"
Can you imagine this happening in India anytime in the near future?
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Old 13th February 2007, 17:35   #8
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Average holiday entitlement in America - 2 weeks/year
Average holiday entitlement in Europe - 4 weeks/year
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Old 13th February 2007, 18:13   #9
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Interesting article. I've been practicing it for years. There are some things you just can't / don't want to rush.

I also believe that life's a river. If you're in, it'll take you where it wants to take you. You can thrash about all you want, but it won't make much of a difference.
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Old 13th February 2007, 18:20   #10
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We Indians had actually led the same slow lifestyle for decades before our economy became the world's favorite
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Old 13th February 2007, 19:03   #11
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Quote:
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We Indians had actually led the same slow lifestyle for decades before our economy became the world's favorite
They still do that outside of metros.
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