Slow Down Culture

31 01 2007

I simply loved this article! Author Unknown, yet kudos to him!
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 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”.

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.



57 responses

11 02 2007

I’ve been forwarding this to countless people 🙂
rings very true in todays business place

13 02 2007

Thanks for sharing. Yes! It is worth sharing with all. Life is short. Thank and love God and others in every circumstances.

14 02 2007

Hey..this is a very valuable article.. thanks for sharing it..
Many of us read it but very few can actually implement .. !

15 02 2007

It made stop for a while and think….

15 02 2007

Good article. Interested may read the book “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” for similar thoughts.

15 02 2007

Simply brilliant and true.

15 02 2007
Kalidass M

Nice Atricle to understand quality persists over quantity.

15 02 2007

Hats off to the author, for having put such a wonderful thought in simple and sweet words !!!

15 02 2007

was gud but doesnt seem practical in a country like india .. which is being exploited by almost every big nation .

15 02 2007
Suresh kumar

Excellent.- From tamil nadu.

Here we are all losing our traditional life style and try to follow western. But they are following our Ancient tradition. Ex: our temples construction etc., it was taken years and years to complete, slow and steady. win the race.

16 02 2007

Very nice. I have been thinking of this for long time back. But I am unable to acheive this. None of the companies in Asia offer reduced working hour style. Mostly here We work more between 40 – 50 hours per week. If some company offers 25 hours working per week, that would be nice and good. I think in future this sort working hours will pop up in the industry.

16 02 2007

Its really gud and true.When we have enough me time for our selves,then n no of good ideas pop up to make our work a master piece

16 02 2007
Vasu Akuthota

Thanks for sharing such a wonderful Article. It all boils down to the concept of Back to Basics.

16 02 2007

Very true. we should try to live every moment to the fullest.

16 02 2007

Lets try to implement the idea in our lives…

16 02 2007

Good one….

16 02 2007

Nice article; but just think a little before putting any comments. Try to analyse this from all angles. Agreed that time is important; and we have to live every moment. Completely agree to that. Indian companies work for 8 hours a day. In this time min 3 hours will be taken by coffee breaks and puffing breaks. So the real working time is reduced to 5 hours now. In that time to check personal mails and to reply for that + orkutting + other social networking kills around another 2 hours. So the total working time is reduced to 3 hours. So total working time a week will come to 21 hrs or less for most indian IT workers (only applicabel to it; no idea about other jobs). So in reality we work for less time than others. Please don’t compare the way we (Indians) work with Germans or Swedish; their approach to things itself is different. If they come to office they really work (most of them). They are much more civilized and professional in their attitude towards work (you can see this in the fist part of this article; car parking). If we try to copy their work timings or few features like that and if we continue in our same attitude, that’s going to be a disaster. We can only be ourselves and try to understand that fact. First we can try to channelize our attitude to a more civilized and logical way (basically senseful), we can think of copying their timings. Till then we can keep learning, not in one angle; but through all angles about others like mentioned in the article.
Jai Hind

NB: This is just my personal opinion based on facts. No debates on this.


17 02 2007

One correction-nokia not from sweden but Finland..!!

17 02 2007

Superb !!!

20 02 2007

its gr8…if v take it in a positive sense…its not that v have to follow it… just an option to improve our living… v might have some better option for our indian attitude too….. have to wait for a rite time for that option to b discovered by the rite person……

just an offense made…

20 02 2007

Too good ….

20 02 2007

good one… gr8… thxs man

20 02 2007

Excellent article…

26 02 2007

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.

23 06 2007

Sweden has a population of ca. 9 million, not 2 million

The city of Stockholm has a population of 780.000, not 500.000

And there exists no state and no region in Brazil named Sao Pablo:

Nokia is a finnish, not a swedish company.

Not sure how you would measure productivity. But if you look at GDP per capita, the US beats France with $44,190 to $35,404.

In Germany working hours in the public and privarte sector are rising from 30-something to 40. This has been a general trend during the last years.
For example just recently at the Deutsche Telekom,1518,489963,00.html

But I get the point about projects taking 2 years to finish:
You don’t have to worry about getting your facts right. In two years surely someone will show up who knows how to use Wikipedia.

24 07 2009

There exists a region in Brazil which you may call either ‘San Pablo’ (spanish) or ‘Sao Paulo’ (portuguese).

25 06 2007

Slowing Down seems like fun and all, but the effects of doing so are hardly clear or proven. Personally, taking 2 years just to approve a project makes me extremely nervous. Seems like a lot of overhead to me. I mean, it may allow bad ideas to peter out and give time to prove bleeding edge technologies, but it also leaves you vulnerable to those who can accurately predict or discern useful trends. In other words, it may provide stability in an established company and industry, but it’d leave you really vulnerable in times of change.

26 06 2007

I hate music on web-pages.

3 07 2007

Good article, but I completely agree with Sudeep’s comment.

3 07 2007
Vishal Paisal

well we all are following the slow culture since i know
In india it is followed from the IT Company to the daily wage worker.
It is part of indian culture.
That’s why we r distinctly ahead since centuries 🙂

3 07 2007

Great! The best thing I have read in a while!

9 07 2007

seconding Vladimir,

I opened a bunch of pages in tabs from, all at once, and i went nuts looking for the one that was playing music so i could close it immediately.

i thought the article was pretty good, but i’m voting you down on reddit for disrespecting readers who already happy with silence or their own choice of music

12 07 2007

Hi Matt,

I could understand the discomfort you had when u are caught unawares by the Music on this webpage. Point taken and I have adjusted the songspot so that it wont play automatically..

Well, it wasn’t disrespect for readers that I enabled music, its just love for that song.. And noone complained ina reasonable fashion until now..

12 07 2007
Prashant Sethi

Effectiveness of the effort put in is the key. We can all end up spending hours at work but how much of that is really effective is what would make the difference. Work smart and not necessarily work hard.

13 07 2007

Though provoking article. While Arend and Sudeep got back to the old habits of facts and figures (Very melancholy) . I’ve been working 2 jobs since a year and a half. I know how many times have i felt like crashing out. The feeling of living the slow down culture is like enjoying all the taste of a grape, a fruit and not just gulping it down. I’m habituated to fast eating, almost at the speed of light. Yesterday i consciously chewed my food for 32 time both sides. There were more than one taste in my food. I’ve lately taken up to become a sommelier , and the patience required to pursue the hobby. May god help me adopt to the Slow down Culture. “Life is lovely enjoy it”

14 07 2007
Shivasubramanian A

French people, even though they work 35 hours per week, are more productive than Americans or British

I remember reading about the recent French elections (the one in which Sarkozy won over Segolene Royal) on the BBC site. One voter had said that he had voted for Sarkozy since Sarkozy had promised “extension” of the 35-hour work week, while Royal hadn’t. If the French are more productive with their current style of working, why would they want to extend it?

3 08 2007

Thanks for the superb article and interesting comments , you guys rock!

3 08 2007

Today i receive and email with this interesting article. Im very surprise because 4 years ago i start a slow down way of living without knowing that exist a movement or anything about it…I just felt that i need to begun to live my life like my heart want it to live… For me this message is very important, because i was feeling so sad because nobody understand my way of living here in my country Chile (Sudamerica), and now i felt more support of the universe…im not crazy or wrong in my feelings…this is correct and a good way of living….the way of my heart wanted to live. Thank to the unknowing author of this article!!!! Now I understand what can i do.

26 08 2007
Słowo na niedziele | Internet-Marek Molicki-In Online We Trust

[…] var wc_project=59073; var wc_version=1; var wc_graphic=0; Z jednego bloga trafiłem do drugiego, gdzie pojawił się (dawno temu, w styczniu) interesujący tekst o pracy w Szwecji, choć […]

3 10 2007

Someone has actually forwarded me the post in an email 🙂 The word seems to be spreading fast.

So, I’ve decided to look the original up to congratulate the author.

26 10 2007

its really good, in this hurry world there is no time to see even our parents,
so we need a renovation like slow down our life style and enjoy the life.

6 12 2007
Music Search and Music Downloads

Music Search and Music Downloads

Sorry, it just sounds like a crazy idea for me 🙂

27 12 2007

I agree, kudos to the author. It really makes us think about what we always do these days..

4 01 2008
46 « Frustrat o gniewie

[…] więcej tu. […]

15 01 2008

hmmmm…very interesting!
Thanks google

8 02 2008

Really true that ‘When we think stretched, we can yeald better’. Tention does nothing but, kill our brain.
Eg: If we have to catch a train in the main terminal in 30 Mins and the local takes 20 Mins to reach better think where not to waste the 10 mins from local to main terminal and not about the 20Mins which reach the terminal. I costs nothing and fetches nothing. ( General experiance which I face with co-passengers)

17 03 2008
Jennifer Sandberg

The alleged “slow down culture of Sweden” is a matter of opinion and debatable.

Sweden is NOT about the size of San Pablo (or Sao Paolo), a state in Brazil. Sao Paolo has an area of only 1,523 square kilometres (588 sq mi) while Sweden has 449,964 km² (173,720 square miles), making it the 5th largest country in Europe. Comparing the sizes of a large country and a state is just ridiculous.

Sweden, as of December 2007, has a population of 9 million, NOT 2 million.

The capital city, Stockholm has a population of 1,252,000 people, NOT 500,000.

Nokia is from Finland, not Sweden. Geez.

23 08 2008

It is not slowdown culture. It is more about how things should be first planned and then done.

27 10 2008

This one of the greatest idea.. I too will try to spend little time to spread the message & at least make someone else’s attention. Thx.

29 12 2008
Sheldon Dsouza

This is a very good article… BUT sadly… Managers and and Businessman will applaud it and then shove it under the doormat…

24 07 2009

nice, now I have a name for slacking off at work.. my slow down culture.. cool!

14 10 2009
Barton Wyatt

This is a fantastic little motivator. Thanks for the post…

4 02 2010
Antony Panama

There is plain a lot for me to learn outside of my books. Thanks for the great read,

21 03 2010

Al pacino did NOT say “A life is lived in an instant”!!!
What he really said was “A minute? Some people live a lifetime in a minute”

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