Wednesday, January 31, 2007

An interesting reflection: Slow Down Culture

Just happened to read this email yesterday. Really made sense to me ... read on

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.

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 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, 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? Imagine my face.

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", "life quality" or the "quality of being". French people, even though they work 35 hours per week, are more productive than Americans or British. Germans have established 28.8 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, productivity, perfection, with attention to detail and less stress. It means reestablishing family values, friends, free and leisure time. Taking the "now", present and concrete, versus the "global", undefined and anonymous. 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 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 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".

4 Comments:

Blogger HP said...

Interesting Post Sumit!!

btw, I believe in No Work instead of Fast/Slow Work :-)

And the Car parking incident was pretty good!!

Cheers,
HP

January 31, 2007 10:13 PM  
Blogger Kurt said...

#timus

Cool post dude...
I hope we had a Slow Work culture here in the IT industry... :)

and i'll second HP on the car parking incident...
How can one be so unselfish???

njoi,
Kurt

http://itsmekurt.wordpress.com/

February 07, 2007 9:03 PM  
Blogger Praveer said...

wont agree in totality with your thoughts.

if speed is to be compromised for perfection, it might be understood - though not always. unfortunately, many times the 'go slow' is just a cover for inefficiency and lazyness. Maybe some studies have shown effectiveness of the technique in particular cases, but on a macro level, it seems to be the economies with their "do it now" attitude that are making the most progress.

PS: nokia is from finland.

February 18, 2007 1:46 PM  
Anonymous mattu said...

@sumit
me is a little but nontheless a good post..but frankly...given the impatient character i am ... i wonder if i could be slow at work...my brain wud ache to work cautiously faster and hence b a little more efficient each time...i'd like to hurry up, complete all ma work and go meet ma family dude...

February 26, 2007 3:40 AM  

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