We all live in a very connected world. Email, Facebook, Twitter and so on challenge the way we once communicated. The simply things in life, like writing a letter, having a chat, going for a long slow walk and just taking everything in. These are often lost in our daily rush to do things more quickly. The email I received tells about a culture of a company, perhaps even the whole country. We should really give a good hard look at our lives and slow things down and experience life. I found the email telling of what we don’t do. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did reading it. – Ronald
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. Therefore, 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 x quantity of meetings and work with a slowdown scheme. At the end, this always yields better results.
1. Sweden has 2 million inhabitants.
2. Stockholm has 500,000 people.
3. Volvo, Escania, Ericsson, Electrolux, are some of its renowned companies. Volvo even supplies 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 cars to work).
The first day, I didn’t say anything, neither the second or third days. One morning I asked him, “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 nearer lots.” To which he replied, “Since we’re here early we’ll have time to walk, don’t you think that whoever gets in late will need a place closer to the door?”
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, 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, fuelled 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 driven up by 20%..
This slow attitude has come to the notice of USA , the pupils of the fast and “do it now” brigade.
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 re-establishing 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 work place 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.
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 Pacino responds, “A life is lived in an instant”. Then they dance the 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 to live for 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 this email till the end of this message…. there are many who would have stopped in the middle so as not to waste time in this “Globalized” world!