Slow Down Culture

An interesting reflection: Slow Down Culture and sometimes just smell the coffee and do not just gulp it.
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 other words:

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

2. Sweden has 2 million inhabitants.

3. Stockholm , has 500,000 people.

4. 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 totaste 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

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