Slow Down Culture : The Swedish View on Life

(via Sunil) An interesting reflection: Slow Down Culture, It’s been 18 years since I joined Volvo, a Swedish company. Working forthem 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, are some of its renowned companies. Volvo also supplies NASA with critical equipment.

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”.

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.

13 thoughts on “Slow Down Culture : The Swedish View on Life”

  1. Shrikant,

    I think many things here are correct. Swedish are honest, humble and slow people. In my six months of working their (as an Researcher ), I found it. However, I seem to believe that they are not as productive as Americans or for that matter us. They are slow and work less. But again, this is only from my observation of a research lab I was part of and can not be generalized. Americans on the other hand are ambitious and hard working.


  2. I think this is very much true.We all try to live an fast life always planning for the future and not wait a second to enjoy our present or fondly remember our past. However this is not a problem created by a individual this is being created by the society and the world at large and if u won’t walk on the fast lane u r left way behind since the others are walking fast.It is only the collective effort of the entire world to stop this race and work as a team,the rich nations helping the poorer ones . Sharing the fruits with everyone and a person be in any profession in any country be able to live a decent life with decent amenities and as well as not be forced to work that extra hour to get that extra appraisal only to find that still his/her needs are not fulfilled since all the others worked more extra hours and got the extra appraisal. Well the previous sentence will be applicable for the developed nations and those of the developing or back ward nations it is the responsibility of the developed nations to give a helping hand and make them par with them and let the world reside on a flat world rather then have valleys.

  3. Hey, this is a very insightful article.i had to track down where the email forwarded to me came from. Can I share your article in my blog for my friends?

    Thanks in advance!

  4. hey, have you been able to find where this article originated from. i have been trying , but all icould find are the blogs that have reproduced it because they got this in email.
    Does anyone know, who wrote this?


  5. actually slow down culture is good o bad in this fast growing technology. I can’t understand the fact. If anyone know please tell me.

  6. Hi Shrikant,

    Thanks a lot for this post. It speaks of a culture that has clearly understood what is important to them and shaped their lives & work ethics to suit it.

  7. Yes I agree.. we all spend so much time thinking about every small issue.. we should all learn to utilize our time in a better way – make time for family, friends !!

  8. this is why swedishs are not leading the world. Quantity is always winner against the quality . China is example for quantity . Dont get fool by this article , keep working hard

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