An interesting reflection: Slow Down Culture

Read on if you have the time in this fast paced world…

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:
Sweden is about the size of San Pablo, a state in Brazil.
Sweden has 2 million inhabitants.
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.

As received by email

Song for this post : Radiohead – The Tourist ( which has a chorus…”Hey man slow down, slow down / Idiot slow down, slow down”)

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  1. Krishna said

    I read it to completion 🙂

  2. Stephen said

    Loved the article… Thanks for the inspiration!!

  3. Pradeep said

    Seth Godin writes

  4. p.v.narayanan said

    I was amazed to know that such things still exist. But its great stuff.keep up the good work

  5. sunny said

    love the article……. very good artical

  6. Hiren Bhatt said

    A good reflection, requires sharp (not necessary fast) reflexes to digest!

  7. suchitt said

    Reading this article I could remember a tale. Once there was a shepherd. He was resting under a tree. A rich man passed by. Amazed seeing the shepherd resting, the rich man asked – “Why are you resting?”. Shepherd replied – “I am doing my work. The cows are grazing. By evening I will compose this poem. Cows would have grazed. So I think I am doing my work and enjoying my life”. Rich man replied – “No, I meant if you could just do some extra work”. Shepherd asked “What work”. Rich man said “Perhaps some more hours laboring here and there”. Once again the shepherd asked – “How do I benefit from doing this”. Rich man replied – “See if you labor more you save more. Once you save more you could buy more cows. More cows means more milk, more money”. Confused by this the shepherd asked – “What do I do by earning more money”. Rich man explained “ Look, once you have lot of money, people will work for you and you can rest”. Exclaimed the shepherd – “But Sir, that is what I am doing right now”.
    Sometimes we take circles instead of straight paths. These circles simply lead us to same point where we started. More productivity does not come from greater hours of work. It comes from creativity. Creativity in turn gets nurtured in a meditative and relaxed mind. A mind which has time to think of alternatives can be more creative. God did not create this world in haste. Creation takes time. Destruction is fast. It needs no time. Sometimes people running too fast simply discover that they ran too much but the end goal of happiness remains unfulfilled. This nevertheless does not mean idling out and not working. But relaxing is recharging.


  8. anand trivedi said

    Absolutley right my dear friend,
    But some how system is also effecting in this situation.
    Enjoy life in every moment……….. MASTI !!!!!!!……..

  9. Ripal said

    Its really a true part of life. Sometimes we do not know that how much we have left for earning more money. I am now feeling to go to Sweden to work. (Just kidding). But really its a great thing to notice. We do not have time for our children and wife in the rate race of career and money. But we do not know that we are earning for them and it is they who need the most in life. Do give some time for family, friends and don’t live in tention.

  10. nimesh bakrania said

    i have read the message properly and undrerstand.i would like to put my think here.sir you are right at your a days there are to much globleization in the wrold runs very fast with increasing its speed constant.but sir it is also necessary at some place,suppose america attacked on swiden and emmidiate need of vepons are there,now 24 hours work is neccesary.i understand slowdown system is not applicable obviously.but if you have’nt the habbit and does’t have a system,don’t have the presons who are trained for this.than you will be failed.the simple funda can be aplicable for other same as the major unknown deases will reached at the swiden and emmidiate invention of madicine or entybody will be needed.and after invention the heavy lot of entybody have to be provided in short time.
    exquese me sir i am not in front of you.i am also with you.i oppose the the man who is running behind the money and willingly for that at any period
    of life.that is called as crazy globel wrold which have no end but as i told at above in such cases crazy globlelization is only a way to success.

  11. DAXESH SHAH said

    proof– instead of few words of praise – i would like to state that in my own life i have experienced benifits of working in relax manner.The other such great concept is that of TOYOTA PRODUCTION SYSTEM – what’s more i think this can be proved also -indeed ,
    In the end slow is fast ( lazy you must not be)
    i also have feeling that in these times we all have lost ability to work on basic things ( which is slow and real work ) in order to be so called dynamic and aggressive approach

  12. anwar hussain said

    i read about this article in news paper in bhaskar group this is really nice article it is motivation for me because all my friend have job but i am still studying and waiting for good job i am not hurry about job because i know hurry is not good in big decision so i like this article too much ……………………….. thank u

  13. maryadakumar said

    In present time all are hurry , but in this mail utilise of time is important.
    thanks for mail

  14. Ravi said

    YESTEDAY IS HISTORY;TOMMORROW IS MYSTRY;TODAY IS THE GIFT,TAHT IS WHY IT IS CALLED PRESNT.When you enjoy what you do,you do not rush.Hence enjoy what ever you do and you will be happy.Lastly, if you can do a coorect job, you are not to redo it.
    God Bless All

  15. vijay said

    it’s not a artical it’s a new generation

  16. Rohit Joshi said

    the movementin USA of slow food eating& drinking to take the entire taste and to make it more digestive is our ancient Indian culture which is now realised by West and is adopted by them.
    the creativity therby produtivity comes from slow and effective appoach, not by in hurry to get rsult .
    the mail direct us not to work less but to work efficient and correct
    thanks for the mail

  17. pc said

    Its really a good article to read who really need it and also for whom r going to start work.

  18. Mukund Kothari said

    It brings out the very essence of making the life happier, enjoyable. Rush ruins the joy of life. Every moment must be lived with taking the present time into consideration. Wasting the current joys of life for the sake of unknown future is simply unpardonable. We must live the life in such a way that takes inti consideration the happiness of others. This will create a sense of inner happiness, which is invaluable.

  19. Ashwyn said


  20. leandar said

    good article , remind about rush life style …….

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