Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans"

A very good read :-)

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

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.

1. Sweden has 2 million inhabitants..
2. Stockholm has 500,000 people.
3. Volvo, Escania, Ericsson, Electrolux, are some of its renowned
companies. Volvo even supplies 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, neither the second or third days. One
morning I asked him, "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, don't
you think that whoever gets in late will need a place closer to the door?"
Imagine my face.

Nowadays, there's a movement in Europe named 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, 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, fuelled 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 driven up by 20%..

This slow attitude has come to the notice of USA , the pupils of the fast
and "do it now" brigade.

This no-rush attitude doesn't represent doing less or having a lower
It means working and doing things with greater quality, productivity,
perfection, with attention to detail and less stress.
It means re-establishing family values, friends, free and leisure time..
Taking the "now", present and concrete, versus the "global", undefined and
It means taking humans' essential values, the simplicity of living.
It stands for a less coercive work environment, more happy, lighter and
more productive work place 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.

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 Pacino responds, "A life is lived in an instant".
Then they dance the 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 to live for 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"

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