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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Slow Down Culture

Biasa... dapet dari milis...


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, Ikea 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".

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 globalize world.

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