I don’t usually read forwarded email, but I received one today that caught my attention. It was from someone who works at Volvo in Sweden. There, he mentions projects in the company “take 2 years to complete, even if the idea is simple and brilliant. It’s a rule.”
Apparently, the fast-paced global corporate world, focused on immediate results, “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 slowing down scheme. At the end, this always yields better results.”
He relates the following story:
“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. 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.”
Savoring food and life
He goes on to talk about a movement in Europe named Slow Food, which “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.”
I love this idea. It is what is at the heart of the simplicity movement, as well as those who are trying to live frugal lives. It’s not just a matter of reducing clutter or saving money … it’s a matter of slowing down to enjoy life more, of savoring life’s simple pleasures, of rejecting on some level the materialistic culture we are all caught up in and embracing fellow humans instead. It is about changing our values and priorities.
He goes on:
“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!”.