Friday, May 16, 2008

Could "Slow" Be Good for Business?

The Slow Movement (Carl Honore, In Praise of Slow, 2004) is gaining popularity, as evidenced by articles in the New York Times, on CNN, and CNet News. "Slow" is about taking time to build a (local) connection and gain enjoyment and quality from everything we do in today's fast-paced world; it's about taking time to experience our world and our activities instead of rushing through life.

The Slow Movement began in the food industry as Slow Food, using local sustainable agricultural products as an alternative to factory farmed, genetically modified, and/or fast foods and a return to the home cooked meal and family time. The slow movement has now spawned other "slow" applications:

  • slow travel - using public transportation, bicycles, walking, and trains as an alternative to high emissions automobiles and airplanes and taking time to immerse yourself in the local experience

  • slow shopping - buying local, organic, and/or fair trade as an alternative to items mass produced abroad; shopping at local stores and markets as an alternative to mass retailers; shopping at second-hand stores as an alternative to new merchandise

  • slow sport & slow exercise - enjoyment of yoga, tai-chi, Pilates, and other physical sports and exercises which still offer health benefits while promoting calmness and relaxation

  • slow design - designing safe non-toxic products for cradle-to-cradle usage (recycled new uses) instead of cradle-to-grave (throw away)

  • slow work - taking time to enjoy your workplace and job and taking time to rejuvenate as an alternative to the hurried fast-paced stress-filled days we often have at work

  • slow money - investing longterm in local sustainability projects (and accepting the possibility of slower returns) as an alternative quick returns in corporate stock investments

  • slow cities - cities designed for pedestrian and bicycle usage as an alternative to cities designed for automobiles and taking time to get to know our town and neighbors

  • slow books - taking time to enjoy reading

  • slow schools - returning to basics in education, connecting children to learning, involving parents in learning, bringing "slow" values to children

  • slow thinking - seeking deeper understanding, taking time to collect your thoughts, recapturing the imagination and creativity of childhood

  • slow living - appreciating and implementing the value of slowing down our lifestyles

  • slow medicine - "an approach that encourages less aggressive — and less costly — care", particularly for the elderly

  • slow sex - need we say more?

Slow Business

Could "slow" be good for business? The term "slow business" generally has negative connotations referring to a decrease in business activity - which results in decreased profitability and oftentimes reduced hours or layoffs for employees.

The Industrial Revolution, the Technological Revolution and Globalization are business eras that have continued our push for increased speed, quantity, and domination. Perhaps it's time for "Slow Business" and for a shift toward connection, experience, appreciation, quality, and inclusion.

What would "Slow Business" look like? "Slow Business" would suggest a return to "old-fashioned" business practices:

  • reconnect with the world and with others (with your surroundings)

  • engage local suppliers

  • operate in an ethical and just manner

  • keep your word; nurture trust (with employees, community, suppliers, and all stakeholders)

  • care and concern for others

  • treating others with respect (employees, stakeholders, supply chains, labor)

  • seek to offer a service or product that others genuinely need, rather than creating demand for built products

  • reverance for the natural environment in all your operations and activities

  • allowing employees to nurture the mind, body, and spirit

  • developing relationships and appreciation

  • more down time to allow a focus on quality, enjoyment, and taking time to experience your existence

To learn more about "Slow Business" visit the Sloth Club.

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