Learning about being

You may have heard about the country brand delegation that was appointed in Finland some time ago, in 2008. They worked, and they worked, and they worked, and then came out a report, late last year. And what a report! Not the usual kind.

I’ve been reading the text now in detail related to something I’m working on, and I find myself smiling every other page. It’s not that I find it funny. It’s just that I recognize myself so clearly from the pages. The writers have used a lot of time to describing how Finnish people think, work, design, solve problems, network and find happiness. Bingo.

I also understand better and better why I’m so allergic to hierarchies and people with over-developed egoes. There’s a fantastic paragraph in the report (page 94):

Rather than hierarchical directives and orders, management by partnership is based on negotiations and dialogue. It may also be called dialogic leadership. In organisations which apply a leadership model based on partnerships, informality and equality are the starting points. The various parties respect one another’s views and competence, and there is a genuine effort to find solutions together, to engage in dialogue.

For me, this does not mean that every decision in an organisation has to be a lame compromise. Surely we need leaders who take decisions when needed. But the clue is in communication. If you only push people around instead of negotiating and creating dialogues, you’re doomed (page 103).

The global trend of development is towards the model of the Finnish society. Dismantling hierarchical systems, increasing equality and emphasising the rights of the individual – these are some of the means that poor countries have employed to create their prosperity. The ideal of a safe and functional society is turning towards a hierarchy-free model. The old route to controllability was through control, the suppression of information, and the threat of violence. A competing model is based on the notion that the best thing to do is to remove obstacles to insecurity and a lack of functionality. For this to be possible, equality and trust must be created in society through a sustained effort. The peace and safety of Finnish society is based on the idea of ‘more keys, more problems’ the more there is to lock away, the more there is to control.

And the fab quotes just keep coming and teaching me about myself (page 107):

In this world, the contributions Finns make increasingly come about through cooperation with people from different cultural backgrounds. It is obvious that Finnish practices and the ideals of functionality cannot be implanted in multicultural organisations and communities just like that. For this reason it is important to consider what constitutes the core of Finnish functionality that can overcomes cultural boundaries. Determining this issue will certainly require bold experimentation. This will also teach us more about being Finnish.

This is really my kind of report. And I’ve only covered one third now. Will continue reading. A special treat is that I’ve always known this country started urbanizing rapidly only in the 1950’s, but I’ve never really stopped to think how we still describe many situations with agrarian idioms. Geez, the idioms are everywhere (and hard to translate, sorry). I never realized that I’m still living in the countryside – in my head.

I’ve decided to categorize this posting under ‘literature’ as the report is so cool.

♦ In the meantime: there I was, thinking the second issue of Intelligent Life comes out mid-June. It’s out now! Hooray!

♣ Song of the day: Q-Continuum, Spreadlove

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